New Zealand food and nutrition guidelines recommend that adults eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day. However, because toddlers are smaller, the guidelines suggest around 4 servings of fruit and veges a day. It all counts: fresh, frozen, and canned (without sugar). A serving is roughly around a handful, so 4 servings in your toddler’s day might look like this: 1 medium sliced apple, ½ cup stewed fruit (on cereal), 1 medium mashed potato, and a snack of lightly cooked carrot sticks (1 x medium carrot). Don’t get too worried about exactly how many fruit and vegetables your toddler eats. Remember, variety is the key, and lots of fruit contain similar nutrients to veges. So if your toddler is going through an anti-vege phase, make sure there is plenty of fruit on offer.
Here are a few creative ideas for bringing more fruit and veges into your toddler's diet.
- Freeze it – try freezing berries or a banana, then blending a few pieces with some milk to make a mini-smoothie. You can have the rest of the frozen fruit in a smoothie of your own!
- Adapt it – try adding fruit and veges into your existing recipes. Fruit slices work well in your pikelets, and chopped veges can really bring an omelette to life!
- Dip it – try a tasty spread or dip, but instead of crackers use fruit or vegetable sticks. This works well for both sweet and savoury options.
- Mix – grated pumpkin or pureed cauliflower make great thickeners for soups or casseroles. They also add a little sweetness that your toddler is sure to appreciate.
- Add to it – you can always extras to your toddler’s ready-made meals. A little grated carrot or some tasty mashed veges can give extra flavour and texture.