Enjoy this guest post by Halimeh Salem
Do you have a picky eater at home? If you do, I know exactly what you are going through. I am convinced that my son was the pickiest eater out there. He would not eat anything I gave him. He would literally take the plate from my hand and throw it on the floor for no reason. But now, I am able to get my son to eat the right amount of food. And guess what, all his food is healthy! If you are looking for tips on how to get your picky toddler to eat healthy food, keep reading!
In this post, the following will be discussed,
- What is healthy eating?
- How to get your picky toddler to eat?
- Healthy Food Recipes For Toddlers
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a dietician and this should not be taken as medical advice. Please ask your doctor if you have any concerns about your child. This post is for informational purposes only.
What Is Healthy Eating?
Healthy eating for toddlers is quite easier than for adults. The amount of calories is much less. A toddler is a child between the ages of one and three. Depending on their size and health, toddlers should take in 1000 to 1400 calories a day.
Nutrition is very important to keep in mind when it comes to young children, especially toddlers. They need a balanced amount of nutrition every day, and it is important to keep an eye on their weight and development. There are four main food groups toddlers should have during each mealtime. Toddlers should have three meals and two snacks daily. The food groups that should be found in each meal are starch, veggies or fruits, protein, and dairy.
The dairy could be met by milk intake. A toddler between the age of 1 and 2 can take in whole milk. A toddler older than 2 years should take in reduced-fat 2% milk, but this depends on what your child’s pediatrician says. Do not exceed three cups of milk a day because it causes iron deficiency. I also recommend not giving too much milk because it causes the child to get full and not eat.
So, you should provide the other three food groups during each meal time (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Whether your children refuse to eat a certain food group or not, each food group should still be available on their plates.
- Starchy Foods: Bread, Rice, Pasta…
- Veggies and Fruit: Grapes, Carrots, Tomatoes…
- Protein: Chicken, Peanut Butter, Eggs…
- Dairy: Cheese, Milk, Yogurt…
If your child is under a year, they should be getting formula or breastmilk with food.
How To Get Your Picky Toddler To Eat?
There are several ways you can get your picky toddler to eat healthy foods.
- Take Control Of Some Things Not All
My child’s dietician told me parents are in charge of what foods they want their kids to eat and when. But, whether they eat it or not is up to their children. After a few days, the child will understand that food will only be available at certain times so I should eat. Meals should be family-style. They should be provided at the same time every day. Children love routines. Unfortunately, this did not work for my son. So, I personally did not choose this method. If this doesn’t work for you, follow the next method.
- If, Then Method
What I followed was the if, then method. I simply told my son if you want something, then you need to eat. I was very strict. After a few days, he began listening to me and eating. The first bite was the hardest and then the following bites became easier. Not everyone agrees with this. You don’t need to. I was personally worried because my child did not eat at all and my son’s doctor said it was important for him to eat. Do what works for you!
- Be Strategic!
Think of all the foods your child likes to eat. Provide at least one of his favorite foods in each meal and add a new type of food. Keep providing new foods. Also, children thrive on routines. Try to give them food at the same time every day. This will encourage them to eat.
- Be Creative!
Make eating fun. Cut up the foods they like and don’t like into funny shapes or something they like. Also, you can turn it into a game. For example, dare them to try some new foods.
- Practice What You Preach!
Model what you want your child to do. Try new foods with your child. Children love to imitate. Be a great role model!
Healthy Meals Ideas For Toddlers
- Scrambled Eggs, Applesauce and A Slice Of Bread
- Boiled Egg, Grapes, and English Muffin
- Pancakes, Blueberries, and Sausage
WITH A CUP OF MILK
1. Chicken Nuggets (Air Fried), French Fries (Air Fried), and Peaches
2. Mac and Cheese, Pears, and Pinto Beans
3. Spaghetti, Zucchini, and Frozen Berries
4. Cucumber and Hummus Sandwich and Strawberries
5. Pizza, Orange Slices and Black Beans
WITH A CUP OF MILK
1. Rice, Strawberries, and Chicken Bites (chicken breast sliced into very small pieces)
2. Beef Enchiladas, Green Beans, and Peaches
3. Tuna Sandwich, Mini Carrots, and Apple Slices
4. Taco Shell, Cheese and Beef, and Orange Slices
5. Cheese Tortilla, Chips and Peaches
WITH CUP OF MILK (Optional)
1. Saltine Cracker and Almond Butter
2. Yogurt and Granola
3. Hummus and Pita Slices
4. Turkey Sausage in Bun
5. Cottage cheese and Ritz Crackers
The most important thing to keep in mind is the well-being of your child. Talk to your child’s pediatrician before making any decision. Decide which of the methods above can get your toddler to eat. After the age of one, pick eating is quite common and you should not feel like you are going through this alone.
Many problems will arise as your toddler meets his/her milestones. Wait until you potty train, you will need many tips. Many if not all of us have struggled with our children. It is just important for us to remember we should do what we can to help our children grow into their best selves.
Leave a comment below. What did you do to get your child to eat?
Halimeh Salem is an English teacher, a freelance writer, and a mother of two beautiful children, Basem who’s a 2-year-old, and Sama who’s an 8-month-old. They are from California. To pursue her dreams of helping mothers overcome the obstacles of motherhood, she founded her own blog, Crying Toddlers. Halimeh provided all of the amazing content and pictures for this post.