This post was written by staff member Erin Wholey, RD, LDN, and Director of Youth Wellness Programs.
Every parent knows…
Feeding a toddler is not an easy job. This little person who is so needy in some ways (like when you really want to drink your morning coffee), can be so independent when it comes to deciding what they do or do not want to eat. As a parent, you want to feed them nutritious foods, but it’s not always easy to get them to eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and lean proteins. To complicate things, they may love something one day, and throw the ultimate temper tantrum the next day when you give them the exact same thing!
Below are some simple tips and recipes that may help you feed your toddler. I use the word may because every toddler is different. Do what works for you and your little one, and don’t be afraid to try some of these ideas more than once. It can take a while for toddlers to adjust to something new, so don’t be surprised if something that works one day might not work another.
Six tips for feeding your toddler
- Serve it with dip. Many toddlers think it’s fun to dip things (I know mine does!). Make a cinnamon yogurt dip to go with fruit or whole grain waffles. For the dip, use yogurt + cinnamon + maple syrup (optional) or make a yogurt + hummus dip to go with vegetables or whole grain crackers.
- Try cool shapes. Use cookie cutters to make fun-shaped pancakes, sandwiches, or cheese slices!
- Blend it up. Try making smoothies with your toddler as a fun way to serve fruit and yogurt. They may think it tastes even better if they get to dump some of the ingredients into the blender themselves.
- Let them build their own. Make miniature pizzas and let them add the toppings themselves. They can also practice their building skills with cheese, crackers, and fruit or cucumber slices, or make their own yogurt parfait with yogurt, fruit, and a crunchy topping like cereal or nuts.
- Make it a muffin (or better yet a mini-muffin). I swear kids think everything tastes better when it’s served as a muffin! Plus, most muffins are easy to freeze for future use. These are good to have on hand for when they like something one day but refuse to eat it the next day.
- Sprinkle it. Give your toddler the option of sprinkling their own shredded cheese onto their eggs, whole grains, vegetables, etc. (Hint: many toddlers won’t approve of your cheese sprinkling abilities and would rather do it themselves.)
Hopefully some of these tips will make feeding your toddler a little more fun for you both. Keep in mindthat it’s not just about WHAT you feed your kids but HOW you feed them that helps them to develop life-long healthy habits and a positive relationship with food. Check out registered dietitian Jill Castle’s blog post Take the Stress Out of Feeding Toddlers: 9 Tips for Joyful Feeding for some feeding tips from an expert, and remember to be patient with your toddler and yourself!
Some kid-friendly recipes from Must Be the Milk
Banana Breakfast Shake (can substitute whole milk if your child is 1-2 years old)
Fruity Flatbread/Sunny Start Flatbread (offer to let them build their own)
PB&J Smoothie (can substitute sunflower seed butter for peanut butter if needed)
Hawaiian Personal Pizza (this is another great one for them to build on their own)