The temperatures are dropping and the nip in the air is welcome after the hot, dusty summer. Preparing for the cold months must be at the top of your mind, especially if you have children. A balanced, nutritious diet plays a very important role in building your toddler’s immunity and keeping him warm during winter. During winter, the calorie needs go up in order to maintain the body heat. Your kid might feel hungrier than he normally does. That said, it is important to not indulge in highly fatty foods and sweets.  

Here are some tips on winter foods for your child:

  1.  Keep up the proteins: Include high protein foods in your toddler’s diet. The high protein content in foods like eggs, dairy, soy and sprouts helps in raising body temperature· This is because the body has to work harder to absorb these proteins compared to carbohydrates or fats. So body uses and creates more heat. Add proteins first thing to the breakfast as boiled or poached eggs, sprouts or a besan cheela.
  2. Vitamin C rich foods: Vitamin C helps boost immunity and its regular intake helps to keep seasonal flu, cold, cough at bay. Include citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, sweet lime, capsicum, guava in your toddler’s daily diet. Amla or Indian gooseberry can also be given in candied form or its juice can be added to any fresh fruit or vegetable juice. It can also be given in a dried form.  
  3. Vitamin D: According to a study, vitamin D deficiency is related to low immunity and occurrence of upper respiratory tract infections, cold, cough. Include fatty fish like herring, salmon, trout and whole eggs in your child’s diet. If you’re a vegetarian, then include some butter/butter oil, fortified milk, and cereals in your toddler’s meals. Daily exposure of sunlight early morning between 8-10 am for at least 15 minutes is necessary for adequate vitamin D absorption. Consult your child’s paediatrician for vitamin D supplements  
  4. Ginger: For centuries, ginger has been used for its medicinal properties. Ginger helps in cold, flu, cough and even asthma. You can add a little ginger juice to the glass of milk your little one drinks. Ginger can be added practically to all foods including curries, soups, dals, even desserts. You can also try giving ginger candy to your toddler.
  5. Carrots: These are a winter favourite. So make sure your toddler has a carrot every day in some form or the other. One carrot almost provides for a day’s requirement of vitamin A of a toddler. Beta carotene or vitamin A of these carrots is not only a strong antioxidant but also has a direct role in the functioning of the immune system. You can give your child carrots in soup, vegetable, halwa or kheer form.
  6. Sesame and flaxseeds: These foods are traditionally consumed for the warmth/heat they generate in our body after ingestion. These are also an excellent source of omega-3 fats, vitamin E which help in keeping up the immunity during winters. You can roast and grind these seeds and add over porridge, soups. You can even use Tahini sauce (sesame sauce) on chapattis, bread or as a dip for vegetable sticks  
  7. Nuts: Since your child will feel hungrier in the winter months, give her some nuts like walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachio to snack on. These generate heat in the body and provide essential nutrients too. You can make chikis, or add them to any dessert or porridge your little one eats. You can even powder them and add to milk. 
  8. Dried fruits: Dates, raisins, figs, prunes and other dried fruits are powerhouses of energy for your children during winter. Give these at least once a day to provide extra energy, nutrients like iron to keep up the haemoglobin levels (anemics feel colder). The high fibre content in dried fruits will prevent constipation common in winters  
  9. Jaggery: You can include jaggery instead of white sugar wherever possible in your child’s diet.·        Jaggery boosts immunity as it contains antioxidants and zinc. Provides relief from symptoms of cold and cough. Jaggery is rich in iron, and can prevent your child from becoming anemic. The high fibre content prevents constipation  
  10. Soups: Nothing can beat the warmth of a bowl of hot soup on a winter evening. Vegetable soups provide loads of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. You can make any of these for your little one - a mixed vegetable, tomato-carrot, spinach-pea or a chicken or mutton soup. Add an egg yolk or some moong dal to enhance its nutritional value along with a dash of ginger and garlic.  
  11. Nutmeg (Jaifal): It can create warmth within your child’s body and maintain body temperature.·        Crush a little nutmeg with warm water and add it to the milk you toddler takes, it will help beat the cold and cough. You can also make a dried powder and add it to the soup or veggies your toddler eats. 
  12.  Garlic: Like ginger garlic is also been used in a variety of dishes in India for its medicinal properties.·        You can add crushed garlic to your little one's meals, including, soups, dals and other vegetables. It creates warmth in the body and helps combat cold.  
  13. Water: Water is as essential as other nutrients to regulate body temperature during winters. During winters we tend to drink less water so as the children, but we should make sure that children take adequate water to regulate and maintain body temperature. It also helps in absorption of many nutrients and keeps constipation away. If possible make your child drink warm water to avoid catching cough and cold.  

Other simple ways to keep your toddler healthy during winters: 

  • Make sure your child washes his hands. 
  • Teach your child not to touch his eyes or nose. 
  • Try to keep your child away from the kids who are suffering from infections, cold and flu. 
  • Get your child vaccinated on time.      
  • Make sure your child gets enough rest.  
  • Make a habit of regular bed routine.     
  • Focus on the right warm clothes.  
  • Don’t stop her from playing.