If you had a bar of chocolate for breakfast you’d probably be crashing by 9am. So don’t overlook the impact your child’s diet can have on his behaviour. If he’s regularly flinging himself on the floor, his meals could need a makeover.
Knowing which foods can have a positive effect on your child could make it easier to keep him relaxed and focused. ‘As adults, we know it’s important to eat regularly to maintain concentration and mood, but this is just as important for children,’ says Amanda Ursell, author of Baby And Toddler Food Bible (£11.99, Waterstones).
So, as well as ensuring your tot is fed regularly, add these to the menu for a happier, (almost) tantrum-free little one.
7 foods that can help prevent toddler tantrums
A bowl of porridge or another oat-based cereal can be a healthy breakfast
and a great way for your toddler to start the day,
‘Oats release their energy slowly, so his energy levels don’t shoot up like a rocket after breakfast and crash down soon after, causing him to feel hungry, moody, and more prone to tantrums,’ says M&B nutritionist Lowri Turner.
Oats can also make him feel relaxed. ‘They’re a source of glutamic acid, which the body uses to make a brain chemical called gaba – an anti-anxiety substance,’ says Lowri.
Try adding raisins, grated apple or fresh strawberries for some natural sweetness.
It might be a challenge to get your little one to eat it, but oily fish will benefit his behaviour
Salmon, mackerel, sardines and other oily fish contain the omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA. ‘This helps electrical signals in your toddler’s brain pass more easily from one cell to another, aids concentration and brain function,’ says nutritionist Saidee Bailey. This means your tot will stay calmer and more focused.
When it comes to serving it up, try fish pie with cheesy mash on top, or smoked mackerel mashed with cream cheese and lemon juice to make pâté.
5) Chicken or turkey
If the slightest mention of bedtime causes minor wobbles with your tot, introducing a few new ingredients to his evening meal could help him be more placid and sleepy.
‘Poultry are a source of tryptophan, an amino acid used to make the happy hormone serotonin. This helps ensure your toddler’s mood stays positive, and reduces the risk of a tantrum,’ says Lowri. Serotonin can also improve nap times, which is why it’s good to have turkey as an evening meal.
‘Combine it with pasta or rice – they have a naturally calming effect because they also raise serotonin levels,’ says Amanda. ‘In fact, Australian research has found that a rice-based dish
in the evening can help promote calmness and induce sleep.’
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