Healthy Eating for Toddlers

In the beginning of our solid foods adventure (aka 7  months old), my child would eat anything I gave him. Yeah, pretty much anything. Now, this only applies to our dog. Jibbers has long-since learned the meaning of the word “no” and delights in refusing mommy’s pleas to eat your peas. Some tips for coping…

Rule #1: Make it “pretty”

Although I have a boy, never discount the value of presentation! I have read many a “mommy mag,” replete with descriptions of recipes for toddlers, only to [sigh], “I have no time to do that!” Really? And arguing/trying to bribe your child to eat certain foods is saving your time? You sure?

Rule #2: Texture!

My son LOVES dried peas, but is not so keen on the cooked variety. Okay. Basically the same nutritional makeup… the child likes the crunch, then give them crunch! We enjoy Just Tomatoes Organic Dried Peas in this household.

Rule #3: Be sneaky…

Happy Babies has a line called Happy Tots which features several bite-size “nuggets” of several varieties appealing to toddlers. Should you be fortunate enough to have a Whole Foods or similar close to you (practicalmomma is not, but makes the trip every 8 weeks or so), these are easily obtainable there, or via Amazon. Peas of Mind also makes “fries” of apple, broccoli, and other vegetables,  which taste amazingly similar to french fries… try them, with or without ketchup.

Another tip with being sneaky: Baby food or your food processor can do magic in increasing the vegetable intake of the entire family. Try mixing one part (container) organic baby food (green beans, peas, or mixed vegetables) into two parts organic ketchup or organic marinara. Bet you can’t taste the difference.

Tasty Baby also makes cereal bars in both Carrot Cake (carrot + apple) flavors and Pumpkin Pie (pumpkin + banana) that the whole family enjoys. Yes, they are both plenty sweet, but contain all-organic ingredients, and nothing you can’t pronounce/don’t know what it is.

Rule #4: Make it cool, make it common.

What this means is, if other people are doing [eating] it, your child is more likely to eat it. Daddy eats an apple, mommy eats an apple, guess who else wants an apple…? Nutritionists and doctors have always said ad nauseum that children tend to emulate parents and role models, but it’s absolutely true. Look for brands that may carry healthy foods that contain animals or characters that your children associate with (my son enjoy’s EnviroKidz Gorilla Munch, Happy Tot characters, and almost anything Earth’s Best– Sesame Street).

Rule #4: Set the example. This may seem obvious, but if you eat healthy foods, so will your child. Particularly if you are breastfeeding, as this is your child’s first introduction to new tastes. Don’t be afraid to eat asparagus or those beets! This is how your child “learns” the food pyramid. For dinner, when Jibbers began to eat more solids, we created a “pick plate.” This was a plate, composed of everything we had eaten (even spicy/highly “herbed” dishes) and let him have at it. Minimal facial expressions/reactions… remember, everyone is entitled to like what they like, don’t discourage! Have your “backup” ready… this means yogurt (YoBaby and YoToddler are both commercially available nearly everywhere), cheese sticks (Stonyfield), quesadillas, and the like… but always offer the “family meal” first!

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About practicalmomma

Wife. Mother. Personal trainer. Coupon clipper.Tree hugger. I go by many monikers, but it all boils down to living well, living healthy, living mindfully, and staying within our budget. A San Diego native transplanted to the Southeast, trying to stay true to my convictions. Changing diapers, changing minds, and maybe, someday, the world.
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