kids protein ideas

Toddler-Friendly Protein Ideas Ask Amanda: Your Questions Answered by Expert RD

Ask Amanda is a weekly column from Feed to Succeed dietitian Amanda Gordon. Have a question? Email Amanda and let her know or submit an “Ask Amanda” question for a future column.

Do you have recommendations for healthy protein sources that toddlers actually eat?

Protein recommendations vary by age, but on average, children need 1 gram of protein per kilogram of weight (to get your childs weight in kilograms, divide their weight by 2.2). We have found that most parents overestimate their childs protein needs. To give you an example, an 80 pound (~36 kilograms) child would about 36 grams of protein per day! Thats it! Bottom line is that most toddlers get plenty of protein in their daily diets, even if they don’t eat much meat. However, for parents that want to include more protein, below are some ideas that are often toddler friendly.

Lean protein sources such as chicken and fish are great, but many toddlers are not always interested in eating them. Lean meats can have textures that are sometimes difficult for young children to handle, so they don’t naturally gravitate towards these foods.

Eggs are a great source of protein.  Many toddlers will eat them scrambled with a little bit of milk and cheese. Remember just one egg is a serving of protein for a toddler. When my kids get tired of eating scrambled eggs, I often mix things up and make egg in toast (cut a hole in the center of a piece of bread and cook an egg in the center of toast in a pan with butter), or sometimes I make homemade French toast with egg, milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon.  Yogurt and cheese are also good options for protein.

Beans are also a good source of protein for toddlers. My go to method of “bean inclusion” in our house is homemade nachos. I used corn tortilla chips (made with no additives or coloring), cheese, black beans and sometimes cooked chicken and bake it (then let my kids add avocado or guacamole and salsa).

I always encourage parents not to resort to “kid friendly” meats, like frozen chicken nuggets (which can be highly processed) in order to get kids to eat protein. If you are worried that your toddler won’t eat meat at mealtime, you can supplement with eggs, cheese, yogurt, beans or other protein sources until they are ready to eat lean meats and seafood.

Bottom line is that most toddlers get plenty of protein in their daily diets, even if they don’t eat much meat. However, for parents that want to include more protein, below are some ideas that are often toddler friendly.

Keeping Kids Involved in Packing Lunches Ask Amanda: Your Questions Answered by Expert RD

Ask Amanda is a weekly column from Feed to Succeed dietitian Amanda Gordon. Have a question? Email Amanda and let her know or submit an “Ask Amanda” question for a future column.

Recently, a parent asked me, “How can we help our kids make good food choices?”

Great Question! If we want our young children to learn how to make good, healthy food choices, we have to lead by example, but as they get older, we also need to give them opportunities to learn to make these choices for themselves and feel empowered by the choices they make.

One easy way to do this is to have school-age children participate in what goes into their school lunch. In our house, this has proven to be an easy way to encourage healthy eating and smart choices. Since evenings and mornings can be busy, having our kids make their own lunches is not feasible. However, asking them to write out what they want in their lunches has proven to be an easy way to encourage and discuss healthy eating and smart choices. We call these “Lunch Orders.” It provides us with an opportunity to talk about healthy foods, and often involves compromise! It also gives us a chance to discuss and start to make the important connection for kids between what they eat and how it fuels their brain and body to do what it needs to do every day at school. It contributes to a family dialogue about how food choices impact what we do every day and how well we do it; from learning in the classroom, to concentrating on music lessons to playing sports.

 

 

Decoding baby formula labels

Bacteria Business: Decoding Baby Formula Labels Ask Amanda: Your Questions Answered by Expert RD

A walk through the baby formula aisle at the store can be daunting! There are so many options and the labels are full of different ingredients and health claims for infants and toddlers. This week we got the following nutrition question from a Chicago-area mom: I am a breastfeeding mom, and I am also supplementing with formula. I am confused by the difference between prebiotics and probiotics in baby formula. Can you help clarify this?

Because of the known health benefits of breastmilk, baby formula is often formulated to include some of the naturally occurring components of breastmilk. Probiotics and prebiotics are both found in breastmilk and have made their way into baby formula over the past 10 years.

Prebiotics are carbohydrates and the precursors to probiotics. They help create the right environment for probiotics to work and do their job. They serve as the food source for the good bacteria (or probiotics). Prebiotics are found in abundance in breastmilk, specifically Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO). Many formula companies are now adding prebiotics to infant formula.  The common names for the prebiotics found in infant formula are: Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), Galactooligosaccharides (GOS), Polydextrose and 2′-Fucosyllactose (2-FL). While the prebiotics found in formula don’t provide all of the immune functions of naturally occurring HMO in breastmilk, studies indicate they can help grow the good bacteria in a baby’s intestines.

Probiotics are the actual beneficial bacteria that live in our bodies and can have health protective qualities for babies and adults alike. They are added to infant formula with the goal that they will help populate babies’ intestines and provide balance between good bacteria and bad bacteria. While some baby formulas also now contain probiotics, they are not found as commonly and widespread as prebiotics in formula. The common names for the probiotics found in infant formula are: B. lactisand L. Reuteri.  Hopefully this helps “decode” the labels a bit!

 

 

 

Toddler Playdate for Tube Feeding Families Please join us!

We are excited to partner with Notube, an international nonprofit organization that specializes in working with tube fed children, for an infant and toddler playdate at our office on November 4.

Our team has worked with hundreds of children with feeding tubes. As research and experience has dictated, we have shifted away from formula feeds over the past few years towards using real food. Real food is more digestible, decreases reflux and constipation, encourages good growth, and is more natural. Parents who are trained to prepare real food for their children are often surprised to know that they can meet their child’s nutritional needs and improve feeding tolerance by shifting from formula to real food. With Feed to Succeed, something as elusive as feeding a child is suddenly a real possibility. Time and time again, we get to share the moment of a family making a positive transition to a healthier child.

Spots are limited, so please RSVP to info@feedtosucceed.com or marion.russell@notube.com.

toddler playdate for tube feeding nutrition

what peanut butter is healthy

What Peanut Butter Is Healthy Ask Amanda: Your Questions Answered by Expert RD

Ask Amanda is a weekly column from Feed to Succeed dietitian Amanda Gordon. Have a question? Email Amanda and let her know or submit an “Ask Amanda” question for a future column.

Hi Amanda – I am wondering about peanut butter and what the differences are between the natural peanut butter and regular store brands? Is there a difference? There are so many options now in the grocery store aisles.

Good question. It can be confusing. In my house growing up there was Jif, and that was the only option, but there are many more choices now. (Disclaimer: there were also canned mandarin oranges, which counted as a fruit in my house growing up).

Hopefully, I can help break it down in a way that makes sense and gives you and your family some help to make some informed decisions.

All peanut butters and peanut butter spreads must contain 90% peanuts in order to be labeled as peanut butter or peanut butter spread. Some conventional peanut butters can also contain hydrogenated oils, which help make food taste smooth and creamy. However, in many studies, hydrogenated oils have proven to be heart unhealthy.

In light of recent studies on hydrogenated oils, there has been an increase in the number of peanut butter options that don’t have hydrogenated oils, but are simply roasted peanuts and salt. You’ll recognize these jars of peanut butter because without stabilizers or other additives, they have natural separation of the oil at the top. These peanut butters require a fair bit of stirring and can be higher maintenance, but have no additives.

As if this wasn’t confusing enough, there are now “No Stir Natural Peanut Butter Options.” Many popular peanut butter brands now make “No Stir” options that are marketed as “natural.” They are often labelled as peanut butter spreads instead of peanut butter. They do not separate or require laborious stirring, but the labeling can be misleading. While they don’t contain hydrogenated oils, they usually contain other additives such as palm oil, sugars and/or molasses.

Hopefully this helps inform your decision about peanut butter, no matter which route you decide to go!