Your toddler’s health is priority number one and when they go off to daycare or preschool, ensuring that they are eating the right foods and getting the right nutrients is essential. You can rest assured that your child is well-nourished by taking a few steps —  combined with a pinch of creativity — before sending them out the door.

The great thing is that there are so many different types of foods that you can offer variety and keep your toddler guessing what’s in their lunch box every day. It also means you don’t have to get stuck in a rut of providing the same food every day, and maintain the connection to your toddler with the food you made available to them. Contact Leaps & Bounds Child Care to see how we always make snack and meal time fun and enjoyable. 

There are a multitude of foods to choose from but if your child enjoys certain foods at home, they would enjoy them the same if they were away. In fact, it could be a little creature comfort for them being away from the only place they know — home. Consider these fresh fruit ideas:

  • Apples, sliced thinly for tiny fingers
  • Bananas, cut into small circles 
  • Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries
  • Tangerines or oranges
  • Grapes, cut in half, if needed
  • Mango, sliced into small pieces
  • Pineapple
  • Pears, cut into cubes

Depending on your schedule, you could either cut these up in the morning before your little one departs for the day or prepare them beforehand and then freeze them. Chilled fruit is a delicious treat and it would likely thaw before your toddler ate it. If your child has sensitive teeth, this may not be an option, but snack and food prepping for the week is always helpful and maybe the refrigerator, rather than the freezer, is where they can stay.

A balanced diet also includes vegetables and there are a plethora to choose from. Obviously, if you know your toddler doesn’t like a particular vegetable or is picky about certain ones, then it would be wrong to think if you put it in their lunch box that a teacher or assistant would be able to get them to eat it. These vegetables add color to any meal:

  • Chopped carrots
  • Halved cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Avocado, sliced or smeared over bread
  • Snap peas, chilled or room temperature

Dairy is always important to consider when planning snacks or meals for your toddler. Depending on the time available to you, a variety of options exist to ensure your toddler is getting all their vitamins. Among the choices of dairy:

  • Milk – (almond, soy, goat, skim or 2%)
  • Kefir – (plain, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry)
  • Cottage cheese
  • String or sliced cheese
  • Yogurt – (preferable to have low sugar fruit flavored)
  • Smoothies 

In terms of grains, there are a number of creative routes you can go. You may want your toddler to get their daily allowance at breakfast, in cereals like Cheerios, Corn Flakes, or Chex. However, there are other alternatives that allow them to keep full throughout the day. Consider these grains as options:

  • Muffins
  • Granola Bars
  • Whole grain graham crackers
  • Sandwich bread
  • Crackers or pretzels

Healthy alternatives also exist at the grocery store and can be bought off the shelf. This might be a good option if time is limited and you have to prepare a snack or meal on short notice. Be careful to monitor the sugar content because that is something you don’t want your child to become addicted to and cause further health problems later in their life. Some health off-the-shelf snacks include:

  • Dried apple chips
  • Unsweetened raisins
  • Applesauce
  • Fruit leather (roll-ups)
  • Freeze-dried veggies (peas, green beans, bell peppers)

There is no shortage of healthy options for your toddler. Snack and meal time can be as exciting as, or even more so, when you pack nutritious treats for the day. What better way to stay connected with your loved one than saying “I love you” with food. Contact Leaps and Bounds Child Care for more information.