Dr Julie Bhosale wrote The Nourished Toddler for parents but the many grandparents who are raising grandchildren these days would also find it useful.
I know from experience what a busy time that is as when they were little our three granddaughters lived with us for some months. I doubt if I would have had the time and energy to read it then as I was also working full time. But in hindsight, it would have been useful to have more information about the latest ideas on child development, which foods are now thought to be best for toddlers at various stages, and good ways to persuade them to eat healthy food without creating a fuss.
Dr Julie Bhosale’s book is packed full of information, based on research and her own experiences as a mother of two young boys. I’ll just share a few of her ideas which I thought useful.
Tantrums are normal
In The Science of Toddlers, she unpacks the science of how toddlers develop and explains why tantrums are normal especially for toddlers between 2-4 years. During that time they are learning to manage their emotions with limited impulse control. The best way to deal with a toddler tantrum is to keep your frustrations and possibly your embarrassment in check. Sometimes a bit of strategic prevention helps as well.
Parenting styles matter a lot
Research has shown that parents who use an authoritative feeding style by setting boundaries and guidelines (but in a supportive manner) are more likely to raise toddlers who eat more fruit and vegetables and less sugar and processed foods than parents who are indulgent, uninvolved or too authoritarian. Such toddlers are also less likely to become overweight or obese.
Wholefoods are best
Wholefoods processed as little as possible should be the basis of a toddler’s diet. Dr Julie Bhosale has created a toddler food pyramid of her core foods which include a good dose of vegetables with foods high in iron and healthy dietary fat. These, she says, will provide the greatest amount of nutrients toddlers need.
Her suggestion that we should limit the amount of fruit they eat did surprise me, but as these contain quite a substantial amount of sugar I can see her point.
Some strategies for helping your toddler to eat well
Setting some boundaries and having regular routines around food will help. But let them win occasionally.
Be patient: hunger is hormonally driven and they will eventually want to eat!
Breakfast may well be a better time to get veggies into toddlers as by 5 pm they (and you also) may be too tired and cranky.
Try putting a little tasting plate with different kinds of vegetables or other food on the table for them to try. It is more than likely that eventually they will be tempted to give them a go.
Let your toddler help with meal preparation. It doesn’t have to be every day. If they have made it, they are more likely to want to eat it.
And perhaps most importantly make mealtimes a family time, a time to be together and enjoy each other’s company.
Meal plans and recipes
The last part of the book contains a lot of practical information, guidance on more specialist areas like constipation and immune support, and detailed meal plans for each stage of a toddler’s life. There also a handful of toddler-friendly recipes to start you off including a vegetable-laden breakfast fritter, a tofu curry, some zingy meatballs, ABC cookies, easy fish cakes and a magic constipation smoothie.
Survival day go to’s
As a parent of two active little boys, Dr Julie Bhosale admits that sometimes she like other toddler parents had days when she genuinely didn’t know if she would be able to get through them. Many of us will have had similar experiences.
At those times, she says, there is nothing wrong with having porridge or weet-bix for dinner, or opening a can of baked beans or putting some wholegrain bread in the toaster! It’s a relief to know that we don’t have to feel bad if we are not perfect all the time!
The Nourished Toddler (the essential guide to navigating toddler feeding from 1-5 years) by Dr Julie Bhosale is published by Bateman. RRP $39.99
Reviews by Lyn Potter
Parent and grandparent, Avid traveler, writer & passionate home cook