So, what does potty training have to do with guacamole?
Surprisingly, a lot. Avocados have tons of great nutrients, tend to be easy on the sometimes-picky palate of a toddler, and most importantly, they have a whopping 9 grams of fiber. My own toddler enjoyed eating avocados to point, but if garlic, onion, and salt were included, she gobbled it up like cookie monster. I didn’t actually start eating avocados until I was over 40! I've included our hard won "perfected" recipe at the end.
Here’s a harsh reality: helping kids learn to “pee-pee on the potty” is actually the easy part. I said it, it’s true.
More and more parents, and certainly more since I started in the field of child development twenty years ago, find that their child struggles when it comes to defecation. Yep, we’re talking poop. They resist pooping in the potty. They hide; they go days without a bowel movement; they poop in their underwear.
Sometimes it’s behavioral. Most of the time, it’s not. There’s a simple formula for a healthy digestive system- fiber, fluids, and exercise. There’s a reason that constipation is more prevalent in today’s age. These are not nearly in the supply they were in 1950. My son’s kindergarten has 20 minutes of recess daily, which is often shortened or canceled. The P.E. class which occurs twice a week, is not always all that physical and it’s not all that long. Kids are not always provided open access to water and encouraged to drink throughout the day, and certainly, generally speaking, the American diet is low in fiber.
So how much fiber do kids need? It’s great question. Different professional organizations have different recommendations. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that children ages 1 to 3 get at least 19 grams of fiber a day. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, children between the ages of 1 and 18 should be getting between 14 and 31 grams of fiber a day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics based their recommendations on fiber needs and the negative impacts of too much fiber (yep- it’s a thing). Too much fiber can result in gas, bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain. A minimum recommendation for daily fiber is your child’s age + 5 grams. So, if you have a 2-year-old, you should aim for a minimum of 7 grams of fiber daily. Very few negative effects have been found at age + 10 grams, so if you look to accomplish age + 5 to 10 grams daily, you are doing better than most American families.
So, a 1 year old should get between 6 and 11 grams of fiber, a two-year-old should get between 7 and 12 grams of fiber, a three-year-old should get between 8 and 13 grams of fiber, and so on.
If you are reading this with a sense of misery at the thought of including fiber in your child’s diet, I just want to encourage you to start with minimal introductions. Fiber is actually awesome. You need the fiber anyway. Fiber not only helps prevent or relieve constipation, studies show it increases feelings of fullness, lowers cholesterol, helps to prevent heart disease and diabetes, and it may even may lower the chances of getting some types of cancer.
We cover some ways you can increase fiber in our Potty U course, but you can start today by adding in or substituting foods your toddler is already eating. Consider switching out barbeque chips and goldfish for Sunchips or popcorn. Consider adding fruit to your child’s yogurt or some avocado to a sandwich. Raspberries have 8 grams of fiber per cup. Consider adding some to yogurt. Beans are always great sources of fiber and can be added to a variety of savory meals.
And finally, maybe you could try having some Guacamole. We have taken to perfecting our family recipe, and I am going to share it with you.
Half and pit your avocados, put them in a mixing bowl (or a molcajete). Put in remaining ingredients EXCEPT the tomatoes. You may want to skimp on some things so you can taste as you go to assure it’s perfect for your family. Finally, once fully mashed, add tomatoes and eat with veggies or chips.
If you have ways you incorporate fiber into your child’s diet or fiber rich foods you love (or recipes), I’d love to hear about them. Send us a note at [email protected]
Want to know if your child is ready for potty training? Take our free mini-course and know for sure.