Sure, kids love french fries. They’re salty and savory, and they’re easy for little hands and mouths to handle. That’s why you might not be surprised to learn that researchers found that more than 20 percent of toddlers consume fried potatoes, aka french fries, every day! So what’s the big deal? There is a downside to introducing salty, greasy and even sugary foods too soon. Here are some tips to stop the french fry madness and help your little ones learn to love healthy veggies.
Did you know young children develop their taste for certain foods during the first few years of life? When babies and toddlers are given salty and sugary foods, such as french fries and juice, their taste buds learn to prefer salty and sweet. As a result, they may be less likely to enjoy healthy foods, such as veggies, fruit, plain milk and water.
From infancy into toddlerhood, your little one is growing and developing at a super-fast rate and needs a variety of nutrients, such as protein, minerals and vitamins, for brain development and bone strength. At the same time, her stomach isn’t very big, so if she is filling up on french fries—which offer little nutritional benefit—she’s not going to have any room left for nutritious foods.
Instead of giving your little one those greasy salt sticks, get him hooked on healthy finger foods, such as toasted oat cereal, soft cooked peas and banana slices.
If your child already has a case of french fry madness, don’t despair! It’s not too late to turn things around. Start by serving up real veggies as finger foods. Try steamed carrots or baked sweet potato wedges for babies and toddlers. To prevent choking, make sure veggies are soft cooked and cut into pieces that are 1/2 inch, and that skins are peeled off of sweet potatoes.
The real key to success here is to model healthy eating habits. If you’re eating french fries, your little one is going to want them too. If you’re enjoying healthy veggies and fruits, it’s going to be easier to get your kids to eat them.