Monday, March 26, 2012

Feeding Ben - What I've learned about toddler nutrition

Ben just came from his monthly check-up the other day and we are happy to report that his doctor is satisfied with his weight and height.  This is a victory for me, Bry and Yaya.  Ever since I had Ben, my target is that he becomes heavier and grows taller each month.  Thankfully, with hard work and prayers, we're usually successful.  Most friends and family members are quite amazed with Ben's appetite whenever we eat with them.  He eats a lot, has just the right built, and more importantly not sickly.

I had a lot of help in getting Ben to be fed right, and I still have a lot to learn.  I try to research, learn from experiences of other moms as well as consult with pediatricians to confirm if my instincts are correct.  Here are some of the things I've learned that might be helpful in feeding a toddler:

(1) Target your toddler to get most of his nutrition on solid foods.
This is a tough one since your child is used to a liquid diet as a baby.  However, part of being a healthy is being able to get your nutrition from a well balanced diet.  Let your toddler get the majority of his daily calories from fish, meat, vegetables, fruits and wheat.  It will teach him to be adventurous as well as identify which type of foods are healthy for him

(2) Consume milk wisely
Milk can be a good thing, but as a child grows older its role in a child's nutrition shifts.  From being the sole source of food, milk should eventually become a complimentary part of a child's diet.  It is recommended that your child consumes only 2-3 glasses of milk as he becomes a toddler.  This is because if your child gets most of his calories from milk, either of the two things will happen (1) the excess calories may lead him to become overweight or (2) he'd become so full with milk that he won't have an appetite for solids anymore.  This is especially the case with formula milk that's sweeter and more filling.

(3) Get other non-dairy source of DHA and calcium
We hear a lot about the importance of DHA/RHA for brain development.  This is true, especially for infants, and the best source of this at the start of a child's life is breastmilk.  Same goes for calcium.  Now, what happens when you eventually wean your child?   If you stop breastfeeding during a stage that your child is eating well, he can get DHA by eating fish 2-3 times a week.  Also, do you know that vegetables can be a source of calcium as well? These solid foods have nutrients that are easily absorbed by the body compared to the synthetic ones in formula milk.

(4) Snacks are important
If you can't get your toddler to sit down for a long time in the dining table, why not offer snacks in between meals so he gets to eat more.  Sliced fruits are a popular choice.

(5) Relax, Be Patient and Have Fun!
Easy to say, hard to do.  It really is a challenge when to be firm and when to let go when it comes to feeding your child.  I usually want Ben to finish everything that's in his plate and would use all types of distractions to get him to it.  But when it's the weekend, we're pressed for time and I know he has eaten a lot, I TRY (hehe) not to sweat it.  Eating is suppose to be fun and not a chore, and it's important that a child has a positive attitude towards it.

Ben having Magnum Ice Cream for dessert after he finishes his meal

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