Start training your toddler early to eat healthy foods. Healthy foods promote good health. Picky eater does not like to eat healthy food, and there are tricks to use to encourage different behavior. Involve your older children in helping toddlers learn to eat better. When they see older children eating healthy food, they serve as role models.
What Foods to Serve
Serve soft vegetables that are easy to chew with tasty dips. Cucumber peeled, raw or roasted green or red peppers, tomatoes mushrooms, and spinach or salad greens. Wash vegetables well and drain before serving. Serve with healthy commercial or homemade ranch dressing, honey mustard, or creamy Italian. Cut very small and in thin strips.
Cook harder vegetables for children by steaming, roasting, or boiling. Roasted peppers with dip, baked broccoli tots that are soft on the inside, and crunchy on the outside are a few ideas. Stir-fried broccoli with Asian dressing, carrot fries, glazed butter carrots, soft pizza with vegetables, baked potato with cheese, tomato soup, pizza rollups with spinach and cheese, or mashed sweet potatoes with coconut sugar are just some suggestions.
Educate Yourself on Recipes
Research healthy recipes for toddlers online, and you will find many good recipes. It’s important to make vegetables tasty and flavorful. Serve fresh fruit as it has less sugar than canned or processed. A good choice is fresh strawberries, blueberries, pineapple pieces, soft peaches, and orange slices.
Bake or saute harder fruits. Some ideas are baked apple slices, apple cinnamon oatmeal, banana pancakes, fruit with plain or low sugar yogurt, or fruit smoothies. Cut fruit in small pieces to avoid choking in young children. Try making your fruit pops.
Introduce healthy fat in their diet. It helps with brain development. Avocados are soft and easy to eat. Smooth peanut butter or nut butter on soft bread are good sources of fat. Olive oil is a healthy oil to cook with.
Children should eat healthy grains, whole wheat bread, rye, pumpernickel, and gluten-free bread. These grains keep blood sugar consistent and take more time to digest. Try cereals that are all-natural like oatmeal or quinoa. Whole wheat and gluten-free pasta provide vitamins and minerals.
Cook your toddler grass-fed ground beef, free-range chicken, and wild-caught fish. Pick fish without bones and soft meats. These foods have no hormones or antibiotics added. Another excellent source of protein is cooked beans. Look for healthy recipes for a toddler in your favorite search engine or cookbook.
Cut Food Thinner and Serve Smaller Portions
For small children, cut foods into small thin strips and serve smaller portions. A toddler’s throat is very small, and the food has to pass down easily. Even rounded fruits and vegetables should be cut into small thin strips. Portion sizes must be smaller than older children.
For portion size, think of a 1/4 cup yogurt with one tablespoon of diced fruit-cut blueberries in half and strawberries into small pieces. Try serving two crackers instead of five, half an egg, 1/4 cup of cereal or soup, a few vegetables with dip, and 1/2 cup of a fruit smooth. Keep in mind your child’s appetite will increase as they age.
Sit Down With the Toddler at Mealtimes
You and the family should have the toddler sit with you at mealtimes. This is how they learn to eat properly. You are role models, and they will often imitate you. Experts advise when a toddler throws food; it means they are finished eating. Remove them from the table, and let them play with toys or books. Forcing children to eat is a losing battle.
Toddlers learn about food by being messy at first. They drop food, smear it on the table and themselves, and throw it. This is how they learn to enjoy food. You should have a spoon and a cup so they can learn to use it. They are independent and often messy. Dress them in easy to clean clothing and use placemats or a plastic tablecloth when training toddlers.
Consider Portion Sizes and Timing
Make meal portions small as toddlers have small stomachs. Don’t force them to eat and reward them for eating even a spoonful. Give them healthy snacks during the day, and don’t reward them with sugary treats. Accept that at some meals, they may eat very little, and this is normal behavior.
Introduce new foods to make eating interesting. Meals should be 20 to 30 minutes. Show your toddler how much you enjoy eating the new food by eating it in front of them. It might take several attempts before your toddler eats new foods. Try new foods out when the toddler is not distracted and cranky.
Serve the same food that you make for the rest of the family. Try offering the new food with foods your toddler likes to eat. This will encourage them to try new foods.
Children often have medical reasons why they do not eat. It can be acid reflux, constipation, and digestive disorders. Check with your doctor when your toddler’s eating problems continue. Have your toddler tested to rule out any serious medical condition by visiting the doctor.
The sensory appeal is another reason toddlers may not eat. They do not like the feel of the food when they touch it. It is too mushy or slimy. They may not like the feel of the food in their mouth and throat. Often babies are repulsed by the smell of the food or what it looks like. A sensory appeal is often an overlooked reason.
Chewing and Swallowing Might Be Hard
Sometimes, their chewing and swallowing skills have not been developed enough. Signs of this are trouble, chewing, vomiting, and spitting out food. Check with your pediatricians about techniques to improve oral motor skills in toddlers. An occupational therapist provides feeding therapy or lessons on how to help your toddler eat. It is often on a weekly or monthly basis.
Sometimes the problem arises when routines and regular mealtimes are not followed. Set a regular time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Do not eat in front of the TV or iPad, as this is distracting. These are some ideas on encouraging your toddler to eat healthily.