Fueling Tips for Toddlers

Admit it. Like toddlers, we get grumpy when we get hungry. Imagine being a 40-pound metabolic machine who uses carbohydrate faster than your minivan goes through a tank of gas. No wonder toddlers throw fits! Summer foods and water will help:

  1. Fresh fruit. Summer fruits are fun to eat. For instance, buy and wash seasonal fruit like plums, nectarines, peaches and grapes, and keep them in the bottom drawers of the refrigerator. This will give the kids an option for an “always food.” They don’t have to ask you if they can reach it and then eat it. It empowers them if they can self-regulate their appetite and recognize when they are getting hungry.
  2. Pack fun snacks. Finger foods are always a fan favorite. Baby carrots dipped in hummus, cheese and crackers, or peanut butter and pretzels are great ways to get your kids to slow down and focus on their food. Combining a vegetable or complex carbohydrate with a protein and healthy fats helps to create balance in their snacking – and keeps them exploring longer!
  3. Need to buy some time? Carry pistachios. These little green nuts not only pack a HUGE nutrient punch, but their shells are fun for little fingers to crack!  Nothing occupies a toddler like eating and organizing.  Pro tip: bring an extra bag or cup for the shells
  4. Stay hydrated!  The summer sun is great for memories and relaxation – but dehydration is not an adventure worth taking! Toddlers are more susceptible to dehydration because their bodies have a higher percentage of water than adults.  Keep reusable water bottles in backpacks, purses, or cars to allow for 8-10 oz of water every 90 minutes.  Good hydration helps prevent fatigue, irritability and may help decrease anxiety.
  5. Picky eaters can be tough! Make food fun by making them scientists that get to explore new textures and flavors. Give them shocking flavors like lemon or ginger, crunchy foods like pistachios or granola, and squishy foods like mashed sweet potato or tofu.  The idea isn’t for them to like the foods – but just challenge them to become brave eaters.  They might be surprised that they discovered some foods that they enjoyed, or it might break the stigma that they “won’t try new foods.”

So get to it!  Plan a picnic at the zoo, a hike, or maybe fishing.  Just get outside and enjoy the great kids you are raising! Summer is short. Taking care to fuel up each day will allow you to turn every minute into a memory!