Spring has sprung! Along with the promise of warmer weather, the change in seasons brings with it a wide variety of tasty seasonal fruits and vegetables. The sunny spring skies shine light on a perfect opportunity to get the whole family — toddlers included — involved in eating fresh, seasonal foods. Seasonal eating allows toddlers to experience new flavors, textures and colors of foods, helping them grow to love and have a healthy relationship with a variety of foods. In this recent article from The Bump, Liz Sanders, MPH, RDN, the Director, Research and Partnerships at the International Food Information Council, shares four seasonal foods that parents and toddlers are sure to love.
Spring is the start of strawberry season! Nothing compares to snacking on ripe, juicy strawberries on a warm, spring day. There are many ways for toddlers and young children to enjoy strawberries. Cut strawberries into sections, making them a finger food for your toddler to pick up easily. For a tangy snack, mix mashed or pureed strawberries into unsweetened Greek yogurt. Not only will your child like the textures of the strawberries and the yogurt, but they’ll also provide an added boost of protein and calcium.
To prevent choking on the kernels, serve toddlers mashed or creamed corn. By the time children can sit up independently, they should be ready to grasp small pieces of food. At this time, you can serve corn as its full kernel so your child can explore the small, yellow kernels while sharpening fine motor skills. You also can serve your toddler corn in fresh or frozen varieties.
Interested in introducing your child to some more “advanced” flavors? Try asparagus! Like many other spring produce, asparagus can be pureed to ensure safe consumption for toddlers. If you choose to serve it as finger food, be sure that it is well-cooked and cut up into small, easy-to-grasp pieces.
Spinach may not look appealing to toddlers, let alone adults, but its nutrition benefits are worth putting in the extra effort to encourage your child to try it. Spinach is packed with nutrients, as it contains vitamins A and C, which contribute to metabolism, immunity, and skin and nerve health. Mix finely chopped spinach into an egg scramble. This meal is quick and simple for parents to prepare, and your child is sure to enjoy it as a finger food, as well.
For toddlers, mealtime is a learning experience. Introducing toddlers to these seasonal fruits and veggies at a young age will help them build a healthy relationship with these foods throughout their lives. Exposing toddlers to a variety of tastes, flavors and textures can only positively influence their eating patterns. If your toddler doesn’t accept a food on the first try, don’t give up. Stay consistent and positive, and give it another try. Chances are, they’ll accept the food on the second or third — or twelfth — time. Happy spring!
This blog was written by Morgan Manghera, a communications intern at George Washington University.