It is no secret that toddlers can be very picky eaters. At that age, independence is starting to emerge and your previously agreeable baby may be turning into a handful at the dinner table. It is important to keep in mind that this is not only a completely normal phase, but also an opportunity to instill healthy eating habits in your child. There are a number of simple tips that can help you win this struggle.
1) Offer variety. Toddlers love to make decisions. If you provide a wide range of healthy choices on their plate (or in an ice cube tray), they are bound to like something. While they may choose to only eat fruits one day and dairy products the next, that is okay. It is important to aim for a well-balanced week of nutrition, instead of forcing all of the food groups into one day.
2) Allow grazing. Toddlers are busy, busy! Keeping strict meal times may not be ideal at this age. Instead, place the finger-food tray on a low table, and allow your child to eat over the course of an hour or two. Your son or daughter may stop for a few bites and carry on, only to come back and eat more a little later.
3) Presentation is important. Not only should you offer a variety of foods, but also you should incorporate a variety of methods. Allow your toddler to dip finger foods into peanut butter, preserves, or yogurt. Spread ingredients on top of crackers or blend them into a nutritious drink for a nice change. Often, simply altering the way that you cut or slice a sandwich or pancake can make it more or less appealing to your child. So, mix it up!
Meal ideas for toddlers should not be complex or complicated. Many moms get frustrated when they spend hours working hard on a delicious meal only to have their two-year old turn up their nose at it. Do yourself a favor and keep it simple. In the end, they will be more likely to eat what you offer.