Some toddlers are great eaters. You put food in front of them and they immediately lift their plastic fork and dig in. Others who were great eaters as babies become the pickiest of eaters in toddlerhood. My toddler falls into the second category. In order to ensure that T actually gets some quality food into his belly, the hubs and I have a few tricks we employ. Here are some things that work best with our toddler and may even work for you.
Pretend It's Your Food
Toddlers always want things that they can't have. Actually that might go for adults too, but in this case we just care that it works for toddlers. My husband is the best at this game. If T doesn't show interest in eating his meal, the hubs will say, "Mom, don't let Tyler eat that (insert food item here). It's mine!" T will of course respond, "No it's mine." So with a little back and forth of "I'm going to eat it", "No, I'm going to eat it", it eventually gets eaten, by Tyler.
Have a Race
My toddler likes to win. Maybe yours does too. In the mornings, sometimes we race to eat our cereal. By we, I mean that I eat my food at my normal pace and occasionally throw out phrases like "I think I'm going to finish first". T actually likes cereal and would eventually eat his whole serving anyway, but this makes sure that it happens in say 20 minutes instead of like an hour. My son happens to be very careful in his eating, I wouldn't recommend this one if your kid is likely to scarf down his food too quickly. As I said, I don't increase my speed I just throw out a little taunt if he is becoming distracted.
Only Stock Up On Healthy Snacks
Fact: Toddlers love finger foods and they love snacks. Stock up on a variety of healthy snacks that you can put together to make a meal. You can stock up on whole grain crackers, veggies, hummus, fruit, nut butters, and tons of other healthy snack items. Put these together and you have a great lunch for a toddler! It's both healthy and fun to eat. The key to this one is to only have healthy options. Then no matter what snack food they pick you can be happy giving it to them.
Make Snacking into a Game
A fun way to get toddlers to try new healthy snacks is to make it into a game. Recently, T and I headed to Walmart to pick up the Gerber Lil’ Beanies snacks. They have 2 flavors, original and white cheddar broccoli, so it's perfect for the game we wanted to play. How does this fit with getting toddlers to eat healthy? Gerber Lil’ Beanies is made from the goodness of navy beans to deliver 2 grams of protein (9% Daily Value), 1 gram of fiber, and 10% Daily Value of Vitamin E per serving. Plus it's baked, not made with genetically engineered (GM) ingredients, and is naturally flavored!
What was our game? We decided to be taste testers and we got the whole family involved. I served the snacks in two bowls and Mom, Dad, and Tyler had to guess which snack was which flavor. We also each picked our favorite flavor. Hails was the referee. She also volunteered one of her headbands as our blindfold. Here are some shots of the action:
And here are the results:
Tyler: prefers original
Mom: prefers original
Dad: prefers original
Hailey: to be determined (once she starts eating real food)
You can try this snack yourself by heading over to Walmart and picking up a container. You can try one at a time or try our game and see if your toddler can pick out the flavors! Be sure to register your purchase with iBotta to get 50 cents back! Remember this was one of my favorite money making apps I told you about a while back!
I hope you enjoyed these tips! Tune in Friday when I will be doing my 20 week postpartum update including tips on how to stay motivated to exercise!