There’s two things tots are notorious for being picky about: bedtimes, and food. If you’ve cracked the former (or simply surrendered to the nocturnal antics) ensuring that your tyke is getting his five-a-day is the other battle — but it needn’t be so. Check out this easy breakdown on what toddlers actually need to be eating each day, plus some tips to help you encourage more healthful noshing.
According to the Healthy Kids website, the ‘five-a-day’ guideline is broad, and the actual amount of fruit and veg recommended for children is age-dependent:
Age: Fruit: Vegetables:
1-2 1/2 serving 2-3 servings
2-3 1 serving 2.5 servings
4-8 1.5 servings 4.5 servings
One serving of fruit = 1 medium sized peach OR 1 cup of diced fruit OR 1.5 tablespoons of dried fruit
One serving of vegetables = 1/2 cup of cooked veggies or legumes OR 1/2 a medium spud OR 1 cup of salad
Top tips for upping the fruit and veg intake
- Have a bowl of fresh fruit out where your child can grab a quick snack.
- Offer crudités as a starter if you’re kids are hungry while you finish prepping the main meal.
- Be creative with veg; add to all meals whenever possible. Grating into pasta sauces is one stealthy hack; savoury muffins are another. And mix up how you cook the veggies, too: steam, roast, mash (not just potatoes!), or leave crunchy and raw.
- The same goes for fruit – add swirls of fruit puree to breakfast porridge, top cereals with raisins and banana, and whizz up a fresh smoothie as a meal accompaniment.
- You don’t need to break out the food art to get your young ones interested in food; just keep your offerings (and recipes) varied. Take them along to fruit and veg markets to help choose what strikes their fancy – kiddies love to get involved!
- Your tot learns food attitudes from you, so model healthful eating and choose the carrot sticks over the crisps.
- Peer pressure can work in your favour in the right context; invite some playmates over who like something your tot is fussy about, and see if curiosity is piqued when they see their friends munching. (You might be surprised – even if it’s a salad green!)