So. Here’s the thing. Food issues with a toddler suck. Mealtimes and nutrition are most definitely, without a doubt, our biggest struggle with Evalyn right now. Apparently, thanks to the wonderful world of twitter, I know that I’m not alone in this.
I guess it’s normal for kids to love something one day and then shudder and shake and spit it out as if it’s poison the next. I guess it’s normal for kids to eat nothing but 1/2 a banana in a day. I guess it’s normal for kids to throw their food on the floor, push your hands away when trying to feed them, and say “All done, thank you” after two bites.
But guess what? Even if it’s “normal”? It sucks. It’s frustrating. It’s stressful. And it’s annoying.
As Moms, our children’s nutrition is always at the forefront of our radar. They are dependant on us for their nutrition. It is up to us to ensure that we set them up with the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating. No pressure, right?
So, since a lot of talk about toddler eating habits (or lack of eating habits, rather) has been floating around blog land, I thought it may be helpful to toss some ideas out to each other. What do your toddlers love? Hate? Creative ideas? It seems pretty common that lunch is the most difficult meal for moms to be creative with, so maybe you have some great ideas. Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to help mealtime be a happy time instead of a “please get me a strong drink NOW” time? I admit, I do things I said I’d never do. I bribe. How many times I tell her she can have a bite of a chip if she eats another bite of supper is almost shameful. And yes, on average, we watch a cartoon with our meal at least once a day, just to keep her distracted enough to shovel some food in her mouth. Heck, today? I actually encouraged her to toss bits of her food to Nika, who was casually chillin’ at the foot of her high chair, because she thought it was fun to eat together. Mom fail, FTW!
There are so many things she won’t touch that she used to love. Carrots? Nuhuh. Unless they are in soup. I even tried making the most delicious carrots with apples, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. She refused. Except if they were dipped in French onion sour cream dip. Um, sick? Beets, squash, avocado (except if it’s guacamole on a chip) are other things she used to love but won’t touch now. Lately, she won’t eat meat. From about 9-12 months, she was a carnivore. Now we’re lucky if she eats one bite of meat a day. I can sometimes trick her into a bit of meat on a sandwich or wrap but usually she figures it out and spits it out. She used to gobble up meat like it was her job. No longer.
Because I know that I am always stumped for new ideas, I’ve tried to list a few of our go to meals and snacks in hopes that they may spark some inspiration for you. I like to limit the amount of processed food we eat, although I’m not saying my child has never had a french fry or chicken nugget. For the most part, though, I like to see her eating fresh and mostly homemade foods. Of course, as you’re reading this list, remember that sometimes she loves them, sometimes she hates them. Sometimes she eats 3 eggs, sometimes eggs are disgusting. Every single thing on this list has, at some point, been tossed on the floor. But for the most part, they are quick, easy and mostly healthy suggestions, that we have at least had some luck with in the past.
- yogurt, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, pancakes (make a huge batch and stock them in the freezer for a quick morning), toast with butter and/or peanut butter, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, dry cheerios/other cereal, french toast or waffle sticks, muffins.
- cottage cheese mixed with chopped spinach (this is our #1 go to and makes an appearance in our home multiple times per week), cheesy scrambled eggs, soup/stew/chilli/other dinner leftovers, brown rice and beans, whole wheat tortilla roll ups with flavoured cream cheese, sliced ham, finely chopped tomatoes and cucumber, steamed veggies (most often peas, broccoli or green beans), quinoa with sauteed peppers, mushrooms, onions and (if I’m lucky), some meat, grilled cheese (although she’s learned the art of licking off the ketchup and chucking the sandwich), peanut butter sandwiches, hardboiled eggs (it’s so great to boil up a few at the beginning of the week so they are there and ready), chicken salad sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, omelettes.
We try to feed Evalyn what we’re eating. The types of meals she will eat are lasagne, spaghetti, soups, stews, chilli, pot pie and a few others. But often, I make a meal and she just won’t have it. Also, she usually starts to get hungry and fussy just a few minutes before we’re ready to eat. Because of this, most of the time I have quick and easy things on hand that I can toss on her tray. Some of her favourites are: black beans, chick peas, peas, steamed broccoli (which she normally loves and gobbles up but currently will only eat it if it has ‘dip’ or hummus), green beans, shredded cheese, fruit (always fruit), bread with butter, applesauce.
- these muffins (with a variety of add ins), often with peanut butter, fruit (specifically: kiwi, berries, pears, clementines and bananas are her favourites), crackers, hummus on cucumber, pitas or crackers, cheese strings (although girlfriend is super iffy with cheese lately), applesauce, black beans, raisins (all.the.time. These never, ever, ever fail).
- cereal with milk, yogurt, fruit, muffins, English muffins, toast, apple sauce. Sometimes if she had a crappy dinner, we’ll even toss an egg in.
Now, I want to hear from you. What meals or snacks have you found that your toddler will gobble up? Any great feeding tricks? Is duct tape and cookies the only solution? (Kidding. Sort of). Help a mama out!