Getting a busy, always-moving toddler to sit still for 10 minutes to eat is no easy task. I know my fellow toddler moms – especially those busy boy moms – will agree!
I’ll admit it: sometimes I turn the other cheek when one of his grandparents offer him a tiny bite of chocolate cake or he “sneaks” a Thin Mint from my hand.
But when I stop to think about it, Walker’s health is the most important thing to me. I have personally made mistakes along the way – binging on too many chocolate eggs during Easter season, not working out like I should, eating the baked potato instead of the sweet potato – but I want Walker to have the best start when it comes to his health.
Starting from the beginning, I nursed Walker (for as long as I could) to give him the awesome nutrients that come from breast milk. Then, when I could no longer nurse, we researched high and low the best formulas to mimic breast milk (Similac Sensitive, in case you’re wondering!). When it was time for him to eat food, Brandon and I decided I would make his purees, giving me the comfort of knowing what was going in his little belly. I couldn’t even pronounce the list of ingredients on a jar of baby food found at the grocery store – and I knew I wouldn’t want to eat it – so why should I feed it to my child? (Read my full post on making homemade baby food here.)
But then came time for table food and a busy, wiggly, trotting-everywhere-one-year-old.
Like with the homemade purees I made, I wanted Walker’s table food to be healthy, too, and of course ensure that he got the proper nutrition he needed. Around his one-year birthday – when I got the okay from his pediatrician to give him milk and dairy products – I also talked to her about appropriate serving sizes for toddlers. She directed me to this website, which has been very helpful in determining the amounts of food Walker should be eating at each meal and snack. We set up a schedule for Walker to eat:
- Breakfast: 7 a.m.
- Snack: 9:30 a.m.
- Lunch: 12 p.m.
- Snack: 3 p.m.
- Dinner: 6 p.m.
With each meal, he receives a straw sippy cup of milk. With each snack, he drinks cold water from a straw sippy cup.
Knowing that Walker was eating what we ate really helped me rethink my dinner choices, and allowed me to do some easy, healthier swaps. Instead of rice, I’ll substitute quinoa where I can. We also eat a lot more chicken (for protein) as opposed to beef, and I’ll use ground turkey (and whole wheat noodles) in my spaghetti as opposed to ground beef. Instead of baked potatoes, we now all eat sweet potatoes, and any grain in the house has been substituted for whole wheat.
Lunch and dinner were pretty easy to figure out for us: Walker just eats what we eat! He loves eating baked chicken, sweet potatoes, watermelon and any and all citrus. He’s also a big fan of grilled cheese (and I sneak some deli turkey in there, too), Chick-fil-A’s grilled chicken nuggets, and whole-wheat penne pasta with organic tomato sauce.
But trying to nail down healthy snacks was somewhat challenging for me. I knew he could eat fruit, but I wanted to ensure he got enough dairy – especially when he quit drinking formula and was pretty apathetic about the whole (organic) milk thing in his sippy cup.
After doing some research (such is the theme for me!), I found that yogurt was a great snack for Walker. We started with a baby-friendly yogurt that I fed him with a spoon, but as he grew – and the independence set in – he was no longer content with me feeding him. I knew we needed to find a yogurt in a pouch, but didn’t want to do a sugar-filled alternative just because my child wanted to be independent.
After a trip to the grocery store, I picked up Chobani Tots Mango & Spinach and Banana & Pumpkin Greek Yogurt Pouches. I chose Greek Yogurt because it has more live cultures, which is better for anyone’s stomach. And the plus with this “Tots” yogurt is that its whole milk-based – and that’s great since we’re all about the Vitamin D found in whole milk right now! Like with his purees, I wanted to ensure I could pronounce the ingredients in the yogurt (I could!), and these yogurts are made with non-GMO ingredients, have no artificial sweeteners, no preservatives and have three types of probiotics! And, for those of you who need this, they’re also gluten free, vegetarian friendly and are Kosher certified. Pretty good, right?
Walker loves both of the flavors, and I love that they’re whole milk Greek yogurt blended with real fruit and vegetables. I also love that they have twist, resealable lids (meaning no spoon! Yay!) and I can pop them back in the fridge if Walker decides he doesn’t want to finish it…even though that’s a rarity! Plus, they’re portable, which works great for our on-the-go lifestyle.
Other ways we encourage being healthy and active in our home are taking daily walks (when the weather permits), playing outside on Walker’s jungle gym, and making sure he always sees his parents doing some form of exercise – whether working out at home or simply just taking the stairs at the mall. Brandon and I try not to keep sweets in the house, because if we did, we’d be “as big as a barn,” as we in the South like to say. Instead of cookies and chocolate, we like to eat a spoonful of peanut butter, a fruit, or fruit-based coconut water popsicles.
As Walker grows, I know the temptation to eat whatever he wants will grow. The best advice I was ever given regarding to feeding children was to not deprive them, because then they will go hog-wild and binge eat.
I’m definitely not one of those who will hide broccoli in the birthday cake or deny my child the taste of a Capri Sun after a soccer game. But we will – and do – make healthier choices where appropriate: grilled vs. fried chicken nuggets; milk or water vs. soda at a restaurant; whole wheat Goldfish crackers vs. chips; and Chobani Tots Greek Yogurt vs. the other, brand-shall-remain-nameless sugary stuff!
Disclaimer: A Chobani representative reached out to me to share best tips, thoughts or ideas for encouraging kids to live a healthy lifestyle and get the proper nutrition they need. I was not compensated for this post.