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Healthy food for children

Healthy food for children - spaghetti

This post is also available in: Svenska

Facts and advice about healthy food for children. Written by pediatricians for parents. It’s not difficult to make nutritious food for children. Meatballs, fish sticks, sausages and pasta are a good base. A little bit of carrot, frozen peas and maybe some corn with that, just to complete the plate model. You can make more advanced food using a variety of vegetables if you want, but children grow and develop excellently even from simple food.

Read my column about why many children do not like carrots in their pancakes here.

Protein, carbohydrates and fats

Healthy food for children needs to consist of protein, carbohydrates and fat in the right combination. There are a variety of diets that advocate different proportions of protein, carbohydrates and fats. In the ideal world, this is roughly the case.

Preschool children meal should consist of one third vegetables, one third protein, one third carbohydrates and in addition some fat.

Children need more fats than adults. The smaller the child, the more fat they need. So it is a good idea to always add a little oil, cream or butter to your baby’s portion. If your child does not like the vegetables, then no worries. Children usually pick at what they need, even if you as the adult do not understand how it works.

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Easy-to-cook vegetables that children like

Many children are not so fond of well-cooked juicy vegetable stews. However, it is more common for children to like pure vegetable flavors. Frozen vegetables, such as corn, peas, green beans, broccoli and edamame beans are quick to prepare and often appreciated. Some children prefer to have them frozen and others prefer them with butter.

Carrots and cucumbers are popular with many children, especially if you cut them into sticks.

A good trick to encourage children to eat vegetables is to give them small bowls of vegetables while they are watching a movie or playing a game.

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Rice, pasta or grains – carbohydrates that provide satiety

Most children like to eat at least some kind of pasta, rice or grain. Be sure to serve something like this every day if you plan to make healthy, delicious food for children. If your children aren’t too picky, feel free to try whole grain varieties. They provide a little more fiber and can prevent constipation.

Meatballs, sausages, fish sticks and eggs – good protein for children

In Sweden today, very few children receive too little protein. Whole proteins are found in meat, fish, dairy products and eggs. To ensure a well-rounded protein profile in a vegan diet, incorporating legumes like lentils and beans is essential. They provide key amino acids that may be otherwise lacking.

If you’re considering raising your child on a vegan diet, it’s crucial to thoroughly research their nutritional needs and consider seeking guidance from a certified dietitian.

A vegan diet can be challenging. If you want to make life easier for yourself then let your children eat meat. Easy sources of protein are meatballs, baked salmon, fish sticks, sausages, pancakes (own or ready-made) and egg dishes. Scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, fried eggs or omelettes. Everything is pretty easy.

Do not forget to add fat to your children’s food

Children need more fat in their food than adults. As a basic rule, the younger they are, the more fat the child needs. Fats are found in butter, cheese, cream, oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, as well as in fatty fish such as salmon and fatty meats.

Feel free to add a little extra fat to your children’s food, especially if they are small or have difficulty gaining weight.

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What about vitamins and minerals?

There are two vitamin and mineral deficiencies that we sometimes see in Swedish children: vitamin D deficiency and iron deficiency. To prevent vitamin D deficiency, all children receive vitamin D-drops for the first two years. Give those drops.

Iron deficiency affects babies who are fully breastfed for longer than 8-10 months. And it affects smaller children who do not eat anything that contains meat. Teenage girls with menstrual bleeding and a vegetarian diet are also in the risk group.

Otherwise, you do not have to worry so much about vitamins or minerals. Children get what they need, even through a diet based on macaroni and meatballs.

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Read more:

Läs om mat till små barn som matvägrar

Läs om smakportioner til barn här

Läs om barn och skärmtid här

Läs mer om tillväxt hos barn – utreda och tolka en tillväxtkurva

Läs om att sluta amma här

Läs mer om socker til barn

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