Ideas for Picky Eaters
Now that your baby has grown into a rambunctious toddler, making sure that he gets proper nutrition from his daily diet can be a lot trickier, especially if your child is a picky eater. But giving in is not the answer; in fact, it’s crucial to ensure that your child establishes proper eating habits so that they will understand nutrition facts later on. Luckily, you can rest assured; with our easy-to-follow Healthy Eating Guide for Toddlers, introducing healthy food to your little one has never been easier!
Tips on How to Ensure Your Child Gets the Nutrition They Need
Although feeding babies can be a difficult task, making sure toddlers have a healthy, balanced diet can sometimes seem more like an Olympic event.
Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, and fickle ones as well. They might refuse one food, while binging on others for weeks at a time before eventually tiring of them.
While you might worry about whether your toddler is getting the nutrition she needs, remember that children this age only typically eat one to two full meals daily; although it is important to keep preparing three well-balanced and nutritious meals.
Also, think about your child’s long-term healthy eating habits. While she may not be meeting the basic daily nutrition requirements outlined by the Food Pyramid for Kids, if she is eating healthy foods overall on a weekly basis, then you needn’t worry. Remember that unlike infants, toddlers don’t go through very many physical changes and so therefore don’t require as many calories.
If you’re still concerned about your child’s eating habits, talk to your child’s doctor about possible vitamin supplements. Keep an eye on your child’s energy levels; even if he is eating only small amounts of healthy food, if his energy levels seem normal, then he’s probably fine.
Follow these guidelines for a step-by-step approach to healthy eating for your toddler:
- never use food as a bribe, reward or punishment; this will only cause eating habit problems later on in life
- make sure that dinnertime conversation is pleasant; don’t discuss your child’s eating habits during dinner
- limit food and drink to the table or high chair and try to make sure your child doesn’t fill up on snacks or sugar-filled juice before dinnertime. And be sure to offer about two healthy snacks a day
- be creative: make mealtime fun! Make a ‘face’ on your pizza out of vegetables and other toppings like green pepper, mushrooms and pepperoni; or try making a healthy dip for chicken fingers
- if your toddler doesn’t want to eat a certain food, don’t force him to eat it and don’t offer an alternative; this will only cause more serious eating problems later in your child’s life. And don’t worry, your toddler won’t starve if he misses a meal
- offer your child smaller portions; larger portions can be overwhelming for a young child, especially if he’s already a poor eater
- fortify foods and snacks with healthy ingredients; for example, add fresh blueberries to low-fat bran muffins and cauliflower to spaghetti
- if your family has a history of being overweight, don’t talk about calories or weight. The focus of your child’s diet should be nutrition, not dieting
- visit a farm or orchard; get your child interested in food and how it’s prepared
- let your child play at sous-chef! Involve your child in the planning and preparation of meals; let him wear his own apron and give him easy tasks to start, like mixing ingredients or adding toppings to tacos
- set a positive example for your children. If you maintain healthy eating habits, your child will be so much more likely to as well
Tips on Introducing Healthy Foods to Your Toddler
Introducing new foods to a picky eater can be challenging. But it’s important to introduce healthy ingredients now and again in order to ensure that your children get the nutrition they need.
Here are some simple tips that will make sure your toddler is on the road to healthy eating:
- be honest about new ingredients. If you’re mixing in spinach with a quiche dish, tell your child. Say, "I’ve added a yummy new ingredient to our quiche tonight: spinach." Hiding ingredients and not being honest about them will only cause resentment later on
- introduce new foods in small amounts; for example, offer your toddler a tablespoon of peas, instead of a plateful. That way, he won’t feel so overwhelmed and he’ll be more likely to try the new food he’s being offered
- introduce new ingredients with something your child loves; try adding broccoli as a new pizza topping
Never force your child to try something, but don’t give up either. Try introducing that new ingredient in different ways until your toddler tries it. Never give up on your child’s diet needs; her lifelong healthy eating habits depend on it.