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Facts and advice about healthy food for children. Written by pediatricians for parents. It is not difficult to make nutritious food for children. Meatballs, fish sticks, sausages and pasta are a good base. A little bit of carrots, frozen peas and maybe a little corn with that, just to complete the healthy plate model. You can make more advanced food using a variety of vegetables if you want, but children grow and develop excellently from simple food.
Read my column about why many children do not like carrots in the pancakes here.
Protein, carbohydrates and fats
Healthy food for children consists of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the right combination. There are a variety of diets that advocate different proportions of protein, carbohydrates and fats. However, in the ideal world:
Preschool children should eat one third vegetables, one third protein, one third carbohydrates and in addition some fat.
Children need to consume more fats than adults. The smaller the child, the more fat they need. So always add a little oil, cream or butter to your baby’s portion. If your child does not like vegetables, don’t worry too much. Children usually pick at what they need even if you, as an adult, do not understand how it works.
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 eaten quickly and often appreciated. Some children prefer to have them frozen and others prefer them with butter.
Carrots and cucumbers are also popular with many children, especially if you cut them into sticks.
A good trick to encourage children to eat vegetables is to place small bowls of vegetables in front of them while they are watching a movie or playing a game.
Read about children and screen time
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. For a vegan diet to be complete in terms of proteins, it is necessary to eat legumes such as lentils and beans, otherwise there are certain amino acids missing.
If you want to raise your child on a vegan diet, make sure you read about nutrition carefully and feel free to take advice from a licensed dietitian. It can be challenging. It may be easier for yourself to let the children eat meat. Then there isn’t much to think about.
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 to prepare.
Do not forget to add fat in your children’s food
Children need more fat in their food than adults. As a basic rule, the younger they are, the more they need fat. 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 the children’s food, especially if they are small or have difficulty gaining weight.
Read more about poor growth in children – investigate and interpret the growth curve
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.
Read about iron deficiency in children
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Poor growth in children – investigate and interpret the growth curve
Read about iron deficiency in children
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