Focusing on food varieties

Baz trying corn at Nandos.

On various websites for parenting and toddler food recipes, variety is given priority. For instance, a couple of olives with your toddler’s lunch or a slice of carrot (who would’ve thought), better yet, some tomatoes can really enrich their eating experience. These varieties help expand your toddler’s palate, enabling them to explore new tastes, discovering new favourites in the process.

Unfortunately in Kurdistan, we’re entering this new phase of parenting whereby focus is given to child-led parenting. In other words, children and toddlers dictate what they eat and how they’re going to consume. This practice (based on experience) seems to be widespread, and perhaps some of the fault lies in our early start of weaning.

When toddlers are not given a variety of food, they simply don’t understand other complicated dishes as they grow up. Exposure is necessary. Although, exposure to unhealthy, fat-rich Kurdish dishes such as Dolma are better off much later on. However, if you’d like to introduce your toddler to Dolma, you can simply make a child-friendly dolma with less oil, salt, and spices.

Nonetheless, it is crucial that you understand your child’s eating habits, but don’t contribute to bad eating habits. For instance, does your toddler throw food on the floor, refuse to eat other than sugar-rich snacks/food? You can learn to change that, slowly. When he throws food on the floor, simply take the food away, warn him that his behaviour is unacceptable (although, this might seem somewhat funny at first). Eventually, he will learn that X behaviour causes Y consequence.

A balanced diet for a toddler includes a wide variety of foods — your focus should not be on large lumps of food (as I have seen many times) but on much smaller and wholesome organic foods.

Try giving your toddler one of the following every day (recommended on BabyCentre):

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Coucous
  • Cereals
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Plantains

Food high in iron and protein:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Chopped or ground nuts, along butters, peanuts (Warning: check allergies)
  • Lentils, chickpeas, beans
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