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Toddlers can sometimes behave a lot like teenagers. There may not be a lot of room to reason with them and it’s pretty safe to say they invented FOMO!
But, one bonus (that definitely doesn’t apply to teenagers) is that toddlers can be inclined to do something if they see mummy or daddy doing it first.
Use this to your advantage and kick-start some healthy habits early on.
A good diet
Food is one of the best ways that you can lead by example for your toddler. Try to make healthy food choices, avoiding foods containing added salt and sugar, which your toddler should limit. Opt for nutrient packed, high-fibre foods such as wholegrain breads, legumes, vegetables and fruit. These are good for the whole family and, as an added bonus, may help with toddler tummy comfort.
Encourage your toddler to try new fruits and veggies, and aim for a variety of colours within these food groups to help your little one obtain a wide range of nutrients. It may be inspiring for your toddler to see you enjoying veggies, and is a worthwhile practice considering the majority of 2-3 year olds do not eat enough vegetables. Just remember that toddlers often refuse new foods and it can take 10-15 exposures before your little one accepts them. So don't get disheartened if they reject a vegetable the first time, just keep trying!
Take lead from doting dad Chris Hemsworth and involve your toddler in cooking. There are so many benefits of cooking together. Through conversation, and physically showing your toddler the raw ingredients, you can expose them to where food comes from, what fresh foods look like, and ultimately what goes in to create their breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Toddlers may also be more open to trying new things if they have been involved in the process of preparing a meal or healthy snack from scratch. Plus, homemade food often contains less fat, salt and sugar when compared to highly processed, ready-to-eat foods. Use the opportunity to talk to your child about food, nutrition and health. Not to mention, it's a really fun, family activity to do together!
Jessica Alba and her daughter Honor go for a walk together.
Toddlers are full of energy and it’s important to channel that and keep them moving. Government guidelines recommend toddlers be physically active for at least three hours every day. That's three hours spread out throughout the day, not one big chunk of park laps! On top of that, the government advises that children under two should not have any screen time and those aged 2-5 be limited to less than one hour per day. Screen time includes watching TV or DVD’s, and using a computer or mobile phone.
Choose physical activities that you can do together as a family so that exercise becomes second nature to your little one. Try walking to the shops and using the stroller only on the way home, when your toddler becomes tired. Head to the park and encourage running around with a ball, kite or some bubbles. Go for a swim together or do a bit of beach yoga together. Being active gives toddlers the opportunity to channel some of that bounce-off-the-walls energy. You never know, it may even help them sleep better!
Family meal times
Sitting down and enjoying food together can make mealtime a pleasant, family-focused part of the day. Toddlers have the opportunity to see others enjoy the foods they previously rejected, which can help build acceptance. It can also help demonstrate the proper use of plates, cups and utensils.
If you are using family meal time to expose your little one to new foods, along with modelling healthy choices, be confident you are taking great steps to assist with positive habits. If you are still worried that your toddler isn't getting all the nutrients they need, supplementing their diet with a toddler milk drink can help fill the nutritional gaps. (Consulting with a dietitian or healthcare professional can also be beneficial.)
A love of the outdoors
Spending weekends in the great outdoors is a great way to foster an active lifestyle for your toddler.
Incorporating nature into your toddler’s routines today may transition into beneficial habits down the track. Research has shown nature can improve mental well-being, mood and physical health.
Sponsored by Karicare+ Toddler