Toddlers can be picky eaters. What to do when your young child refuses to eat a whole food group. Mom can get them to eat using some substitutions. You don't want to fight with your kids over eating. Tips, advice, and ideas for feeding toddlers and families.
Two weeks ago, I told you that the USDA recommends most toddlers eat about 1000 calories per day, and last week, I gave you some examples of what kinds and amounts of foods could equal a serving in each of the food groups. Today, we'll address some stumbling blocks to a toddler's balanced diet.
Help! My toddler eats too much of one food group!
Remember that nutrition can carry over several days, right? So it might not unusual for your toddler to eat three days' worth of grains on Saturday, and then refuse to eat any more grains until Tuesday.
Do be careful, however, if she eats three days' worth of grains each and every day.
What if my toddler doesn't want to eat grains?
Last week, I told you that your toddler should eat 3 ounces of grains per day. (Remember that at least half of these grains should be whole grains.) Some suggestions that you may not have considered:
- Bread, preferably whole grain bread
- Crackers - with peanut butter, hummus, cream cheese, fruit spread, etc.
- Tortillas - can be served whole or cut into squares or triangles, as is or toasted
- Cereal - cold cereal is a great snack on the go
- Pasta - Barilla makes mini pasta shapes that are perfect for toddlers (They're called Piccolini.)
- Baked tortilla chips - a fresh tomato salsa or diced fruit salsa makes a great dip
- Rice - if your toddler is reluctant to eat rice, try adding some flavor in the form of a marinade or salad dressing (or even balsamic vinegar, though in a very small quantity)
- Oatmeal - try mixing a spoonful of jam and whipped cream or some brown sugar and milk in with the oatmeal
- Barley, quinoa, couscous - these and other grains might be pleasing to your toddler's palate. They're worth a try, especially if you're having a hard time!
What if my toddler doesn't want to eat vegetables?
Last week, I told you that your toddler should eat 1 cup of vegetables per day. Some suggestions that you may not have considered:
- Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables all count in their daily allowances!
- Shredded vegetables added into meat loaf, lasagna, pasta sauce, or a casserole
- Shredded vegetables can be added into baked goods
- Great snack foods - carrot sticks, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, black olives
- Vegetable soup
- Vegetable stir fry, with or without meat
- Put a plate of cut up raw vegetables on the dining room table while you're preparing dinner. If she's hungry, your toddler will likely help herself (or you can direct her to the plate if she asks for a snack).
What if my toddler doesn't want to eat fruit?
Last week, I told you that your toddler should eat 1 cup of fruit per day. Some suggestions that you may not have considered:
- Top cereal, yogurt, pudding, and oatmeal with a handful of berries or a spoonful of mandarin orange slices. If your toddler refuses them outright, mix them in!
- Keep dried fruit available for snacking. ½ cup of dried fruit meets your toddler's fruit needs for the day.
- Keep fresh fruit on the counter or table. If your toddler sees it, she is more likely to want to ask for some.
- A baked apple or baked pear might entice your toddler to give fruit a try.
What if my toddler doesn't want to drink milk?
Last week, I told you that your toddler should eat 2 cups of milk per day. Some suggestions that you may not have considered:
- Of course, offer milk as a drink throughout the day.
- Use milk to make oatmeal and rice.
- Use cheese to top casseroles and vegetables.
- Offer cheese sticks and cheese cubes as a snack.
- Make a dessert-like parfait with some fresh fruit, granola, and yogurt
- Make smoothies or milkshakes
What if my toddler doesn't want to eat meat?
Last week, I told you that your toddler should eat 2 ounces of meat or beans per day. Some suggestions that you may not have considered:
- Dried beans (Chick peas, black beans, red beans, kidney beans, etc, etc.) - Beans as a main dish? Some toddlers like food that doesn't like to be cut. Dried beans (that have been prepared by soaking and cooking, of course) fit the bill.
- Same with peas. Toddlers like food that rolls.
- Hard boiled eggs
- Peanut butter
- Beans and rice mixed together makes a complete meal - add a splash of lime juice and cilantro for flavor
- Nuts - All kinds of nuts are okay at this age, though be careful. They can be a choking hazard if you don't monitor your toddler closely.