We’ve created the following health eating activity blog to help parents who want to encourage their toddlers and young children to eat healthily. The added bonus is that we’ve included some tasty toddler snack ideas and fun activities to help get the ball rolling. Read on to find out how to encourage healthy eating in toddlers.
Play a Guessing Game
Is a cucumber a fruit or a vegetable? The answer may surprise you! Play this fun, interactive game with your toddler and young children to encourage healthy eating. Older children and adults can get involved too as you take turns to guess whether certain foods are fruits or vegetables. To play the game, have a selection of ready-to-eat foods nearby that you can point to and ask your audience if it’s a fruit or a veggie. Pictures of vegetables will also work, though if you play with real food it means your toddler can also have a healthy snack at the same time.
Here’s a list of fruits that are commonly mistaken as vegetables to start the game with; feel free to add your own too!
- Bell Peppers
- Green Beans
- Pumpkin or Squash
Have a ‘Rainbow Day’
A ‘Rainbow Day’ is a challenge you can try with your toddler and little ones to encourage healthy eating. The aim is to eat healthy foods of as many colours of the rainbow as you can in one day. When you are planning your ‘Rainbow Day’, try to teach your toddler about the difference in nutrition from each food group e.g. carbohydrates, like pasta, will give you energy whereas water will keep you hydrated. To help explain this, you could even make a ‘healthy eating plate’.
How To Make a Healthy Eating Plate
Unlike the ceramic plates we eat from, a healthy eating plate is usually a bit bigger and made from paper or scrap cardboard as shown below. Safely cut out a large plate shape from your material and gather some pens to draw with. On your plate, draw clear sections labelled: protein, carbohydrates, fats, fruits and vegetables. You can then draw different foods or print some small pictures of foods out and engage your toddler to interact with the healthy eating plate. Ask them where they think certain foods belong e.g. bread, crisps or strawberries and stick them into the right category. The idea of this exercise is to show your toddler and little ones the different food groups that make up healthy eating.
‘Design A Plate’ Activity
Food doesn’t have to just be for fuel, it can also be art that you eat! To encourage your toddler to eat well-rounded healthy meals, you could try designing food art with them using food from the different food groups of the healthy eating plate, like the two examples below.
A wonderful bonding activity that is also positive for the environment would be home growing your own fruit and vegetables. Try growing your food from home with your little ones. This activity will encourage them to have an interest in healthy eating as they will be able to watch their planted vegetables grow into something tasty that they can eat. Green beans, herbs, tomatoes and peas are all easy examples of the types of food you can grow in a small patch of soil. If you have a bigger garden, why not even plant your vegetable patch? Encourage your little ones to help you plant the seeds, water the crop and harvest when ready - watch as their excitement grows!
Reduce Artificial Sugar in Foods
You can encourage healthy eating in your toddlers by showing enthusiasm for trying sugar-free alternatives. Opt-out of buying foods that are full of artificial ingredients and instead choose more natural foods, yoghurts and drinks for your toddler to try. It doesn’t have to be all at once, but small swaps to sugar-free and natural foods with healthy bacteria is a good place to start. Alternative snacks could include dried fruits, active-bio yoghurt, nuts, cheese, vegetable sticks, hard-boiled eggs or mini sandwich quarters. To give water some flavour, you can try adding a small amount of diluted juice to it for your toddler to enjoy a different taste. Snacks that aren’t sugar-free are fine now and again! Though if you want to encourage a healthy diet, it’s important to have some sugar-free or low sugar alternatives.
Have fun with your healthy eating activities and remember it’s all about trying something new, offering encouragement and promoting well-rounded health! Children can also learn from example, so if they see their parents and caregivers try new, healthier foods, they will likely be interested in trying them too!
Good luck!Related Blog: Three Great Dinner Time Recipes For Toddlers