Again I continue this mammoth topic of developing healthy eating habits in toddlers. If you’ve missed the first parts of this topic, you can catch up here and here. Once again these ideas have ben formulated from raising my own two kids and many years of working with sick and fussy kids.
From smooth to lumpy to finger food
I know a lot of parents of toddlers struggle with the transition from smooth to lumpy to finger foods. There is no magic formula here. Don’t stress and be patient – you won’t be pureeing their food forever. Just keep trying to introduce more texture (finger foods are good here) and they will eventually be happy with lumps! One day it will just happen (another practice in patience).
Also, remember, just because they don’t like a food prepared one way, doesn’t mean they won’t like it another. My kids hate baked or mashed pumpkin but love pumpkin soup. Sometimes they like their veggies raw, other times steamed. I recently prepared baked sweet potato for a friend’s baby which he loved. His mum said he normally hated sweet potato, but she had only given it to him steamed and mashed. But he liked it roasted!!
Toddlers food does not need to be bland. This is another reason to give them as much of what you eat as possible (or an adapted version if necessary). I’ve found for some kids a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil (or blob of butter) over steamed vegetables can turn a veggie-hater into a veggie-lover. Always try new things, and don’t place limits on what your kids may or may not like.
My kids both love spicy foods. Most kids don’t, simply because they have never been given them. I watched a friend one day wrestle a sweet chilli flavoured rice cracker from her toddlers hand whilst screaming ‘it’s got chilli in it, you’ll burn your mouth!’ My point is never assume that your child won’t like it and encourage them to try everything!
If you are introducing something with an unusual flavour, don’t be afraid of discussing it with your (older) toddler before hand. The first time my kids tried a natural oyster, we explained it’s texture (slippery and yuk in my opinion) but their dad, and now they, like them (preferably with tabasco)!!
Food does not come out of a packet or tube
As a mother, I completely appreciate the convenience of jars and tubes of food. I’d just ask you not to rely on them. Organic or not, they are flavourless, lifeless, sterile and nutritionally void foods and need to be used as a last resort. Also, never let your kids just suck out of the tube. They need to learn to eat food off a utensil. This is critical for the development of healthy eating habits.
Once your toddler is taking finger foods, jars really should become a thing of the past. Invest in a good lunch box and pack lots of little bits and pieces. I post pictures of my kids lunch boxes on my Facebook closed group, so take a look for some inspiration. You might have an assortment of steamed or baked vegetables packed if they are too young to crunch on raw.
Let them make a god awful mess
I am a clean freak and I really battled with letting my kids feed themselves. But they have to do it at some stage so get prepared, grin and bare it. I found the ‘catch it’ types of bibs very useful during this stage. Perhaps some of the second time around mums out there can offer ways they ‘minimise’ meal time mess by posting a comment or suggestion below.