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Health & Nutrition Toddlers

Essential Nutrients for Toddlers



Eating well and eating right offers your children with the right nutrition to meet their growing needs.

 

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

– -Hippocrates

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Health Promotion Board of Singapore (HPB), “For optimal growth, development and health… recommend exclusive breastfeeding (with no other food or drink) for the first 6 months (i.e. 180 days) of a baby’s life. Mothers are encouraged to continue breastfeeding their children until they are 12 months old and thereafter as long as mutually desired, together with the timely introduction of solid food from 6 months of age.”

Breastmilk is the most natural and best milk source for babies, and breastfeeding is encouraged by medical experts. When it is not practiced due to medical conditions or other concerns, formula milk is introduced, and toddlers may continue to consume breastmilk, formula milk or start on fresh milk to complement their diet.

Toddlers require a wholesome diet to support their development, fuelling them with energy and nutrients for healthy growth!

What are some of the essential nutrients toddlers need?

Children from one to three years old enter toddlerhood, and this is also the phase when they undergo development in all areas such as cognitive, emotional, motor skills to name a few. Nutrients from the food they eat provide them with the essential nourishment to promote and support healthy development as their organs mature alongside their physical growth.

Some of the essential nutrients that toddlers need are:

 

Carbohydrates

  • Carbohydrates provide a source of energy to toddlers, and these active bubs need plenty of energy to fuel their daily activities.
  • Food sources: Carbohydrates can be obtained through food such as grains, rice, noodles, bread and cereals.

 Proteins

  • Proteins are necessary to help babies build their bodies and supports their growth. Dietary proteins are digested into amino acids, which help maintain the development of organs, muscles, bones, teeth, hair and skin.
  • Food sources: Offer high protein foods such as vegetables, meats, beans, eggs, dairy products such as cheese and yogurt.

Lipids

  • Besides supplying a major source of energy, lipids help reduce body heat loss and act as padding to protect body organs. Lipids also aid in the absorption of Vitamin A, D, E and K, which are needed to build baby’s immunity, vision and skin health. Essential fatty acids (e.g. ARA and DHA) associated with visual and neural development while further studies are warranted (i.e. sample size, duration, dosage)*.
  • Food sources: Fatty fish such as salmon and cod offer healthy fats such as DHA and Omega-3 along with proteins. Avocadoes are fruit sources that provide good fats to support healthy development, and are known as superfoods as they pack wholesome nutrients

Calcium

  • Needed to build strong bones and teeth, calcium absorption is enhanced with the presence of Vitamin D. Experts suggest that an adequate intake of calcium during childhood may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis during the later years.
  • Food sources: Milk is a common source for calcium for children. Besides dairy options such as cheese and yogurt, other non-dairy food with high calcium includes tofu, soy beans and soy milk, oranges, almonds, beef, broccoli, peas and ikan bilis.
To offer variety to your toddler, try cooking food with different methods, herbs and spices so he obtains a range of nutrients.

 

Choline

  • Required for the normal functioning of cells, choline is linked to memory and learning functions of a child too.
  • Food sources: Animal and plant-based sources such as beef, eggs, salmon and cauliflower.

Iron

  • Iron is necessary for the formation of haemoglobin, which help to carry oxygen around to the organ and muscles through red blood cells. Research advise that iron deficiency leads to poor weight gain, irritability, pale skin and poor appetite. Toddlers with low iron levels or are anaemic, iron-rich food should be added to their diet. For ideal absorption, consume with food rich in Vitamin C.
  • Food sources: Heme sources (meat) such as beef, pork, lamb, liver, veal, chicken; non-heme sources (plants) such as spinach, broccoli, legumes, beans, eggs, lentils, and iron-fortified food such as cereal, whole grain bread and enriched pasta.

Vitamin A

  • Vitamin A is needed to support toddler’s visual development, immune system and promotes healthy skin and hair.
  • Food sources: Eggs, milk, and dark coloured or orange coloured fruit and vegetables like carrots, spinach, kale, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, apricots, papaya and peaches.

Vitamin E

  • A powerful antioxidant, Vitamin E helps to protect the body against germs, and supports healthy development in toddlers.
  • Food sources: Nuts such as peanuts, peanut butter, almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach, wheatgerm, broccoli and kiwi.

 

Vitamin C are iron-rich food are friends – when taken together, Vitamin C helps to improve the absorption of iron by the body.

Vitamin C

  • Besides promoting the absorption of iron and calcium, Vitamin C is needed for wound healing and resist infection, and helps maintain bone and teeth health in toddlers*.
  • Food sources: Citrus fruit such as oranges and lemons, guava, kiwi, strawberries, honeydew

Depending on individual babies, nutritional needs may vary. Experts advise that a healthy balanced diet would suffice in providing the essential nutrients needed for toddlers. While supplements should not substitute a diet, toddlers on special diets or have medical concerns may consider doctor-prescribed supplements.

Consult a nutritionist of health expert when in doubt. After all, eating right is key to raising world-ready citizens for our future too.


 

 

Categories
Babies Health & Nutrition Toddlers

Recipe: Wholesome Baked Eggs in Avocado

Eating well offers children with the daily essential nutrients to take on the activities in a day.

As busy parents, we understand that meal preparation should not take up too much time, while the quality of food offered to our children should not be compromised.

Avocadoes are some of the best first foods parents offer their babies who are ready to start on their solids journey. Young children and adults can enjoy avocados for its delicious goodness too!

Hailed as a superfood for its wholesome nutritional benefits, its creamy texture is mild tasting and perfect on its own, or paired with other ingredients.

So,… what’s so great about avocados?

Nutritional benefits of avocado for babies and growing children

Avocados pack a punch, beneath its tough exterior. These stony fruits boost a wealth of essential nutrients to support children’s development.

  • Calories: Active growing children require calories for their daily energy needs.
  • Omega-3, Monosaturated fatty acids: 60% of our brains are made up of fats, so healthy fats such as Omega-3 help support healthy brain development in children.
  • Vitamins C, E, K, B6: Antioxidants promote healthy cell growth, and support bone health by increasing calcium absorption.
  • Folate: Essential for red blood cell formation and promotes healthy cell growth.
  • Riboflavin (also known as Vitamin B2): Helps body absorb iron and zinc, supports healthy nerve and brain functions.
  • Lutein: Primarily found in green vegetables, and absorbed best when taken with a high-fat meal, supports eye health
  • Fibre: Avocados are high in fibre, and promotes a healthy digestive system by preventing constipation.

Serving Avocado to Children

At six month old, parents may consider serving avocados to their babies. They can be served mash as puree and fed with a spoon (also termed as Traditional Weaning), or sliced up into wedges for children to self-feed (also termed as Baby Led Weaning).

Eggs are another wholesome food that is packed with proteins for growing children, and complement avocados to offer a new adventure of those young palates. How about enjoying both eggs and avocadoes in the same dish with this easy recipe?

Iron-rich foods might be an answer to help prevent iron-deficiency through food sources.

Why are Eggs Good for Children?

Research suggests that eggs are a rich source of proteins and iron. This easy way of providing iron-rich foods might be an answer to help prevent iron-deficiency through food sources.

More than just the building blocks of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood, proteins are macronutrients that are required in relatively large quantities in children to fuel healthy growth.

Just like avocados, eggs are also brain food with doses of cholesterol, DHA and choline, which are vital for developing the various components of a child’s brain, including memory stem cells.

As with new foods, do monitor your child for allergy reactions. While avocados typically belong in the low allergenic foods category, eggs on the other hand, belong to high allergenic foods. Go for whole eggs if your child does not have any allergy reaction to them.

Let your child enjoy avocados with eggs, with this simple recipe!


Baked Avocados with Fresh Eggs Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • A sprinkle of Italian Herbs, or any other herbs that you prefer
  • A sprinkle of salt or coarse sea salt (optional)
  • A dash of black pepper (optional)

Methods:

  1. Preheat oven at 180deg. Pit avocado and slice into half. Using a teaspoon to remove some avocado around the pit area to make space for egg.
  2. Crack egg one at a time, either into a separate bowl or directly into avocado. Ensure yolks fit into avocado. The egg may overflow if the space is not deep enough. Add Italian Herbs.
  3. Bake for 15-20 min or until desired state of egg yolk*.
    *Tip: For young children or pregnant women, ensure egg is fully cooked.
  4. When ready to serve, sprinkle some salt and pepper as desired.

This quick and easy baked avocado with eggs recipe is great for families who wish to enjoy a healthy and hearty breakfast to start their day. Nothing beats quality ingredients which support families in raising world-ready children as they prepare to take on new adventures!

Does your family love eating avocados too? Tell us what’s your family’s favourite way of enjoying avocados!