Feeding a toddler is by far one of the hardest parts of raising them. Each meal time ends in a big mess. Half the food on the floor, Some on their shirts, some on their seat, and maybe a little in there tummy. They like mac n’ cheese, cookies, crackers, and pretty much anything else in a dull yellow or bland color. However, those foods don’t hold the proper nutrients our little eaters need, so we continue the battle of force feeding veggies and meats. Am I right?!
For me, meal time is tough. My daughter will eat anything for her dad and just laughs at me when I tell her to take a bite (I may be the softy of the situation). She usually makes a bigger mess for me and she always tries to eat my food instead of hers. While these challenges do make meal time a bit of an ordeal, there is one thing I do not have to worry about and that is ensuring she is eating nutrient dense foods.
Since day one of eating, my daughter has ate whole foods. I can’t say baby led weaning because (for all you super baby led weaners out there) we did cut up some food, we used utensils, and for a
bout a week I mashed a few things up. But, point being, she has had real, whole, colorful foods on her plate since day one. She has had to chance to try many, many veggies, fruits, meats, and grains. Now, at 2 years old, it is not a fight to eat the veggies because she simply doesn’t know any better. Our biggest struggle is meat. Mostly because she only has a few teeth (yes, at 2 we are still working on getting our teeth) and chewing it up is difficult but she still eats it!
Toddlers do not have to be picky. They do not have to hate veggies. And, they can have a balanced diet. Here are a few of my tips and go-to meals!
- At every meal, place a veggie on their plate. The more times they are exposed, the more chances to have to acquire a taste for a food.
- Always include protein. Toddlers love cheese. String cheese, cottage cheese, sliced cheese. Add it in! Put a little on their broccoli, in their rice, or on their potatoes. Milk, nuts, eggs, and meat are also great sources!
- Just because they didn’t eat it today, doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow. Keep trying. Kids will develop taste as they grow and get curious. Each time they are exposed to a food helps!
- Add in nutrients where you can. I like to add sliced almonds and chia seeds to my daughters oatmeal. Lots of added nutrients and she hardly notices it is in there. Some other nutrients I add to meals are: ground flax, greek yogurt (I like Siggis), Hemp hearts, veggies (in smoothies). Here is her breakfast this morning:
- Base a meal off of one food they really like. My daughter loves noodles. I can coat them in just about anything and she will eat it. Some of my options are: squash with cheese, olive oil and avocado, mixed with tomatoes, olives, and chicken, shrimp and garlic with olive oil.
- Breakfast is essential. Want a tantrum free (ok maybe not ‘free’ but better mood) kind of day? Ensure breakfast is a nutritious meal. We like to make scrambled eggs, avocado, cheese, and fruit. Raelyn loves scrambled eggs and gets even more excited when I let her cook them! Other options are oatmeal, Ezekiel raise bread, greek yogurt, chia seed pudding or Hash.
- Limit Sugar intake. News flash, the more sugar your kids eat the more they will want. Sugar gives cravings like no other foods does. If your kid is not eating well, it may be their bodies telling them they need sugar (or simple carbs) instead of veggies. If you can avoid those craving, you are more likely to see them eating nourishing foods.
- Let the kids cook. Yes, it is messy. Yes, it takes more time. Yes, measurements get messed up. It is all so worth it though! If I let my daughter help cook, she is more excited to eat the food. She has a chair that she pulls up to the counter and stands on so she can stir and see the food cooking.
Feedling a toddler can be tricky business. Hang in there! The more you introduce them to good food, the more good food they will eat.
I am strong. I am capable. I am powerful. I am beautiful.