When it comes to toddler food there are two general groups those who love food or those who dont. I had both types of toddlers those who ate anything and those who had a handful of meals they would consent to eat.
I vacillated between trying to make food fun and exciting to settling for only offering what I knew they would eat. I learnt certain hints and tips through the toddler years which I will share with you in this article.
The two most important things to learn when it comes to toddler food is:
1. They will not starve themselves
2. Do not make meal times a battlefield - don't start toddler food wars!
After your baby has learnt to eat solids starting off according to your preference you can gradually introduce them to food from the table. The goal is to get your toddler to eat the same as the rest of the family sometime around 18 months.
Providing you are cooking healthy and nutritious meals, your toddler will get all their needed nutrients from these meals. Snacks in between meals should be just enough to tide your child over to the next meal and should not be of such a nature that your toddler doesn't eat their meal in favour of the snack.
At dinner time remember that toddlers stomach is roughly the size of their loose fist. This puts the quantity of food you serve them in perspective! And if you divide their plate into quarters it should be balanced like this: ¼ protein, ¼ carbohydrate, ½ fresh or steamed veggies.
There are a few simple ways to make toddler food more attractive to a picky eater.
Some children love to dip! Think of ways that you can get food into your toddler by dipping! Carrot, cucumber bell peppers can all be dipped into guacamole or humus. Toasted whole wheat bread can be dipped into soft cream cheese.
Other toddlers enjoy to eat on toothpicks! Cubes of cheese, cucumber, carrots, mushrooms and tiny little sandwiches can all be served on toothpicks. Just remember to supervise this carefully so that your little one doesn't get hurt.
Let your toddler work with you to prepare their meals. This gives them a sense of accomplishment while you get to do a fun activity together.
For toddlers who dont naturally choose fruit, think about making smoothies for them as a snack.
I have noticed over the years that there are two major issues in a new moms life when it comes to parenting toddlers. Food and sleep. Both of these issues can cause so much stress in a home and in relationships. Toddlers need both of them.
A mom of a toddler can either deal with these two things in a reasonable way or she can stress over them and cause much damage. I have even seen one mom practically force feed her toddler his main meal and now at 7 years of age he has major food issues.
Character training in our children has the spin off effect of being a character training time for us as moms as well. My husband is of the school of thought that if something is on your plate, you eat it. Having been raised in a poor home, food was a precious commodity and was never wasted. As a child he was so grateful for the food on his plate, he never complained.
While I believe it is an opportunity to train our children in gracious behaviour to eat what is served in other peoples homes (bar for really ridiculous meals like haggis!) I do believe that in our home we can cater for different tastes.
This means when it comes to planning meals in your home, you can plan to serve things that everyone will enjoy eating and the dinner then does not become a battle field.
Make a happy face pizza for dinner!
Make a batch of pizza dough before your toddler wakes from their afternoon nap.
2 cups of bread flour
2 teaspoons of active yeast
1 tablespoon of olive oil
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of sugar
1 cup of warm water
Mix the oil, water, sugar and yeast together. Mix the salt and flour together in a large bowl. When the water mixture is frothy add it to the flour and mix well. Cover with a dish clothe and leave in a warm place to rise.
In the meantime, prepare the toppings slice sweet bell peppers into crescents. De-seed some olives and slice in rounds. Grate some cheese. Cube some ham slices or if you are vegetarian leave this off.
When your toddler is ready for the activity, help them to roll out portions of dough into circles with a diameter of about 12cm (5 inches). Cover the surface with tomato puree and some dry oregano and grated cheese.
Help your toddler to use the vegetables to make eyes, nose, mouth and hair.
Bake at 180 deg Celsius for about 20 minutes. Enjoy with a salad or crudites for supper.
Proverbs 31:14 says that a wise mother is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. We are so lucky that these days we need not go far to get good food for our families?
Organic food markets are springing up everywhere as people are becoming better stewards of their bodies. A lot of families are also getting back to basics and are not only learning to prepare foods from scratch, but are also starting to grow their own vegetables again.
May I challenge moms who reach for the nearest convenience food to consider how much better it is to cook from organic at best, or at least fresh ingredients for their families?
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