It’s not common, but every once in a while, you’ll come across a picky toddler.
If you’re like me, you’ve encountered many toddlers who are picky about what they like to eat. This is totally normal and not uncommon at all. Trying to cram nutritious, high quality food into your toddler’s diet can be a huge battle. This task can be made a little easier if you get creative.
Toddlers, though out of the rapidly growing baby stage, are still growing and developing at an alarming rate. It’s important that they still get all of the nutrients needed to help build healthy brains, bones, and bodies. But it also needs to happen in a realistic manner. Here are some vital nutrients for toddlers, plus a recipe kids will find new, fun, and exciting. It won’t make all your meal-time battles go away, but it’ll certain help you pick a nutritious snack that’s mom and toddler-approved.
Nutrients Your Growing Toddler Needs
While calcium is best known for helping build strong bones and teeth, it’s also important for muscle and nerve function, blood clotting, and cell signaling. Calcium helps us maintain a regular heart beat and sends messages between cells in the body. If your toddler is anything near as wild as mine, you know how important strong bones are! Calcium is found in dairy products like milk and yogurt, but also in unexpected foods like dark leafy greens, broccoli, salmon, and beans.
Vitamin A helps us keep our skin, eyes, and soft tissues in the body healthy and vibrant. Best known for helping us maintain good vision, vitamin A also plays an important role in cell growth and differentiation, which is important when it comes to things like forming healthy organs. It’s found in orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes, as well as meat, poultry, and even coconuts.
Vitamin D is calcium’s partner-in-crime, helping us absorb and use the mineral for building healthy bones, but it’s also vital for maintaining healthy skin and muscles, promoting good moods, and preventing cancer. We get most of our vitamin D through our skin from the sun, but it’s also found in some foods like egg yolks.
Sometimes this is a hard one because most of us with toddler-aged kids grew up in the midst of the low-fat mania, but fat is a vital nutrient for everyone, especially toddlers who are still developing their brains. In addition, we need fat to let us absorb certain vitamins, specifically vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats promote brain development, joint health, and even support mood. Healthy fats can be found in things like salmon, avocado, nuts, and coconut oil.
Iron has the important job of helping our red blood cells form hemoglobin, which transport oxygen throughout the body. Inadequate iron intake can lead to fatigue, poor growth, and delayed development. Iron is often found in meat sources, as well as spinach, almonds, and beans.
That all may sound like a lot of nutrition to pack into one picky toddler, but luckily, many foods are good sources of these vital nutrients. The following recipe is one of our favorites. It’s loaded with almonds, spinach, eggs, and coconut oil, providing healthy fats, iron, vitamins A and D, and calcium all in one bite. Plus, it’s super versatile — sub out the spinach for pretty much any veggie and the almonds for whatever type of flour you have on hand. This version is gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and soy-free since my toddler has food allergies, but feel free to make substitutions that work for your family!
Making these muffins is a lot more fun if you get your toddler involved. It may make things a little messier, but they’ll be more likely to eat them in the end. They’re also fun to make as mini-muffins or pancake-style on the griddle, which makes my muffin-top loving toddler all too happy.
Toddler-Approved Monster Muffins
Ingredients (6 muffins)
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour (or flour of choice)
- 1 cup packed baby spinach leaves
- 2T coconut oil, softened
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Puree spinach in food processor. Add in remaining ingredients and blend until combined. (You can also use a mixer or spoon.)
- Line muffin tin with liners or non-stick spray. Fill cups 3/4 quarters full.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.