Toddlers are notorious for lots of things … picky eating and mischief being at the very top of that list! If you have tried to introduce your toddler to a new, healthy food, you may have found its reception a little unwelcome. For many parents, this can be a cause for concern, but for most children a limited diet isn’t usually a problem.
Toddlers are very opinionated. They know what they like and they stick with it. This isn’t necessarily because they are difficult but because they find comfort in familiar things. They may also be finding joy in their newfound sense of independence and the ability to voice when they don’t want to do or eat something. All of this is very normal, but if your child is giving you a run for your money when it comes to healthy eating, read on to find three helpful ways to stop the mealtime battles for good and to keep your children healthy …
Sneaking in fruits
Sneaking in fruits is a little easier to do than veggies because of their sweet taste, but even still, many toddlers flat out refuse fruits of any kind. If your child isn’t keen on apples or pears, try sneaking fruit into smoothies. Yoghurt is also a great way to help meet their daily dietary needs. If they don’t like yoghurt the old fashioned way, you can try freezing it to make it more like an ice lolly; however, make sure to watch your child closely while eating frozen yoghurts, as they don’t melt as fast as normal ice lollies and can become a choking hazard.
Bringing in veggies
Veggies can be a bit trickier to sneak into mealtime without fuss. Try replacing normal chips with sweet potato ones, which look the same but have a sweet, salty taste that kids love. In place of crisps, try homemade ones, which are simple and quick to make. Shave potatoes with a peeler. Lightly spray them with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in a 240ºC oven until potatoes begin to brown and bubble. This usually takes three to five minutes.
Dairy dos and don’ts
Milk is a great source of calcium for young toddlers, but milk can also be very trying on tummies that are lactose intolerant. If you notice that milk gives your child loose or runny bowel movements, or if they seem to be fussy after ingesting milk, try soy-based products. Cheese is also a great source of getting your child’s daily portions of dairy into them; however, remember that too much cheese can cause constipation. If your child is lactose intolerant, you can always try a calcium supplement if you are concerned that they aren’t getting enough nutrients on a lactose-free diet – just be sure to read the label, as some calcium supplements aren’t completely lactose-free.
Feeding and nutrition can be a sore spot for many parents, but remember that if your toddler still refuses new, healthy foods, vitamin supplements can help even things out. Always remember to avoid forcing your child to try new things. This usually backfires and only creates more stress for both you and your child. If you are still concerned about your child’s nutrition, consult your GP or paediatrician for advice.