New resource inspired by parents for parents: The Toddler Meal Planner is a must have in every kitchen!

Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist

 

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century, with recent NHS figures revealing that one child under five is admitted to hospital because of obesity every week. The coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdown has challenged already difficult circumstances and during this time many children were consuming more higher fat and/or sugar snacks, spending longer in front of screens and missing out on regular activity including physical education classes.

It is not all doom and gloom however, one silver lining of lockdown is that more children have been enjoying eating meals as a family, according to research from the Bite Back 2030 campaign and Guys & St Thomas’ Charity. However, these healthy mealtime and eating behaviours need to be introduced and reinforced from an early age to sustain healthy lifetime habits.

We at the Infant & Toddler Forum know that there is a small window of opportunity when a child is young where healthy eating habits are instilled and can last a lifetime. Yet planning balanced meals which toddlers will eat is often not that easy – which foods? how often? how much? – these are burning questions frequently asked by parents’ when it comes to feeding their children. Our research tells us that almost 40% of parents don’t feel confident knowing what to feed their toddler.

 

Introducing the Toddler Menu Planner

Our new Toddler Menu Planner is a must have for your kitchen! Created in collaboration with parents to solve a real need, it makes it easy for parents to get the balance right, helping to take the guesswork out of toddler meals and set up healthy habits for life at a critical time in children’s development. The resource helps to dissipate any anxiety around ‘getting it wrong’ and supports and empowers parents to create new habits which consider:

  • Which types of foods in the right balance– carbs, protein, dairy and fruit/vegetables
  • How often different types of food should be offered every day
  • How much should be on the plate – think toddler portions!

With the return to nursery or preschool in September, many parents will be sending their toddler in with a lunchbox, but making sure that this is varied and balanced can feel like a challenge. Our Toddler Menu Planner is packed with lunch and snack ideas for your toddler’s lunchbox too.

 

What does it include?

Rapidly growing toddlers require more nutrients in each mouthful of food than adults – The Toddler Menu Planner is specifically developed to meet the growing needs of smaller tummies (1-4 year olds) and is packed with useful info and helpful tools, including:

  • 67 tasty and nutritious toddler recipes developed by a paediatric dietitian
  • A 14-day meal planner featuring easy toddler meal ideas and healthy toddler snacks
  • Photos of the recommended toddler portion sizes for each recipe and snack ideas for children
  • Guidance on how to combine a variety of meals and snacks to ensure that your toddler receives a balanced diet every day
  • Tips and tricks on saving money on groceries, ordering and shopping for food

 

Don’t just take our word for it!

Samantha Williams, mum to 1 year old Amber says:

“The Toddler Menu Planner is a brilliant resource. I am always trying to introduce my daughter Amber to new tastes and textures, but that, combined with making sure she gets a good balance of all the food groups each day, and in the right portion sizes, is not easy! It can also be challenging to think of different meal ideas that I can batch cook and freeze and the Toddler Menu Planner was great for giving me inspiration, saving me time and simplifying the meal planning process. I think the resource will really help parents as it puts everything you need to know in one package which you can easily refer back to for reminders. The recipes are really easy to follow and there is a good mix of easy to prepare meals, as well as more advanced ones for when you have a little more time”.

 

How to get hold of a copy?

The Toddler Menu Planner is priced at £4.99 and is available to download from our new shop. Follow along with all the chat by checking out #MyToddlerMenu on social media and tell us what you think!

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Further Reading

  • Dr Gill Harris, Consultant Paediatric Clinical Psychologist   Following his recent recovery from coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has publicly blamed excess weight for his need for intensive care. He has subsequently declared a war on the UK’s obesity crisis and is planning a post-pandemic public health drive to battle the growing problem.
  • Katie Fox, Primary School Teacher   Due to coronavirus, playgroups and nurseries are shut and those children due to start school in a few months will be out of routine and away from friends. It is understandable that many parents are worried about getting their children ready for September. Children learn and progress at different rates so there are no set criteria on what they need to be able to know or do when they first start nursery, but if they have had some experience learning at home it could help to make it a smoother transition. Turn taking games, imaginative play, reading, and developing fine and gross motor skills can promote independence, build confidence and help develop simple skills.
  • Dr Gill Harris, Consultant Paediatric Clinical Psychologist Dr Maddy Harris, Clinical Psychologist   In times of crisis – such as the one we are currently living in – parents may find that the normal stresses of everyday life are magnified and additional worries and concerns emerge. Knowing how to cope may prove difficult, but an approach which has widely been discussed in the media and on social media is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).The premise of ACT is that fears and anxieties are seen as real and cannot be ‘challenged’ away, unlike with cognitive behavioural therapy. By concentrating on our actions we are able to work past our fears. This method may help those struggling with this new chaotic routine we find ourselves in. The Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help with our top tips on how to apply this intervention.