If you're the parent of a toddler, you know that it can be tricky to get kids to eat a balanced diet (unless your idea of a balanced diet consists of equal parts chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese, that is). Of course, your little one needs lots of nutrition to grow, and some foods have a lot more of the stuff your kid needs than others -- making them known as superfoods.
When you're looking for foods that will help your toddler grow strong and healthy, you want to concentrate on essential vitamins and minerals as well as nutritional building blocks including calcium, protein, and iron. Calcium is crucial for developing bone mass; protein, which is in every cell in the body, is key to overall growth. Iron plays an important role in brain development. The superfoods on this list are great choices because they provide these nutrients and more.
Kids usually love blueberries, and that's a good thing -- they're full of antioxidants, vitamin C, and potassium, which helps keep kids hydrated and promotes healthy muscle function. They're also high in fiber, which will keep your little one's digestive system running smoothly. (Other berries offer similar benefits.) Sprinkle blueberries on your child's cereal or yogurt, or mix them into a salad with other healthy fruits.
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Nuts and seeds
Granted, allergies make many nuts off-limits for some kids. But even nut-sensitive children can often tolerate seeds and seed butters (such as sunflower butter). Both nuts and seeds are high in "good" fats as well as protein, fiber, magnesium, and folate. They've even been linked to lower risk of developing diabetes and heart disease! Nut and seed butters both go great with all-natural jam in a sandwich; you can also try mixing them into sauces or smoothies.
Unlike berries, kids don't always love seafood. But if you can convince your tot to try salmon (maybe with a teriyaki glaze or as breaded fish sticks), there are plenty of benefits -- namely protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which boost brain development.
Kale, spinach, and collard greens might not be your toddler's first choices for snacks, but it's worth trying to find a way to sneak these nutritional powerhouses into his or her diet. After all, dark leafy greens are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, and K, and they're also high in antioxidants and fiber. Try mixing them into a stir-fry or omelette, or blending them into a smoothie of your kid's favorite fruits.
Little kids usually love the mild taste of sweet potatoes, and that's a good thing. These root veggies are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber. Try swapping out regular french fries for baked sweet potato fries. Yum!
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As if you needed more reasons to make guacamole a regular part of your family's taco night! Avocados have lots of just about everything you want your kids to eat, from essential fatty acids to fiber to potassium to vitamins A, C, E, and B6.
Your toddler might not warm up to all of these foods right away, but keep on trying! You're sure to find some favorites along the way.