The Ins and Outs of Toddler Eating… Tips So You Don’t Lose Your Mind!
Ok moms and dads, let’s be real for a second, how many of you are fed up with your toddler not eating or waiting out for non- nutrition treats? I know I am (a mother of soon to be 3 year old boy)! As a dietitian I thought I had all the answers and that my kid would be “different”. I expected him to have the most refined and healthiest palate around, whom was I kidding?
Struggles that I deal with the on the daily include him wanting to avoid anything that is a vegetable or green for that matter, his famous words are “ yucky” or “ I don’t like that mommy”. He also thinks he can eat by his rules most of the time, i.e. want dessert before meal time or snack the day away before wanting to sit down and have a full meal.
Lets just stay I realized he soon took over the kitchen and I knew things had to change. Although I have worked with other picky toddlers in the past, it’s different when it’s your own struggle. Some tips and words of wisdom that I have come to live by that I feel really have made a difference in our house include:
Limit distractions during meal time
Turn off the TV, put away toys, parents put down your phone (emails can wait). Sitting down together as a family and focusing on the meal at hand can promote improved interest in your child’s meal.
Create Inventive Meals that tell a story
This may sound silly or odd to some, however making foods vibrant in color or into shapes or a happy face can make the food served more appealing to your little one. Some regular meals in our house include: a fruit rainbow, or chocolate chip happy face whole grain pancakes. Make a story out of what you serve. If you are excited about it, good chances your kiddo likely will be too!
Eat when your kid/kids eat
Believe it or not kids don’t want to feel like the “lone one” at the table. If time is taken to sit down with your kids, they often gain interest in what you are eating and may go for the “salmon and veggies” versus their regular “mac and cheese”.
Constant re-introduction to previously refused foods
Research shows that a single food should be tried with your little one up to 10 times before they accept it. Although you may feel like you are wasting food or it’s a lost cause, you may be surprised. I suggest offer kids what is already being prepped for mealtime for the rest of the family that way waste is kept to a minimum.
Healthy Dessert time
There is no question that most young ones are drawn to sweets. By re-creating desired treats such as ice cream or cookies at home you are able to utilize more wholesome healthy alternatives. We often prep 100% fruit sorbets or whole grain/oat cookies with cacao nibs.
Bottom Line parents: It takes patience to get your kid in line with healthy eating. Growth through infancy all the way into adolescence is essential. Starting early with healthy eating habits is imperative. Remember kids learn from their outside influences and household environment. If you put the work in, you will slowly but surely will see improvements.
Meal delivery or grocery delivery services make it so easy to browse new and exciting foods to try out with your kids. Some of my favorite regular grocery haul items for my toddler from Milkandeggs.com include:
For any recipe ideas or healthy toddler creations please feel free to email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Instagram or facebook @foodrxrd