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As a mom to a picky toddler I am always looking for ways to make sure my little one is getting enough nutrients. I’m by no means an expert–my daughter Layla is super-stubborn and can be very picky so it can be tough to get her to make healthy choices, but today I’m sharing some of my tips and secrets for encouraging your little one to eat nutritiously without turning the dinner table into a battleground.
- Let them choose fresh vegetables or fruit at the store or market. We recently took Layla to a Farmers Market and it was fun to see her excitement over buying fresh blueberries! It’s easy to get hung up on all your kiddo refuses to eat, but be sure to celebrate and encourage the healthy foods they already love!
- Let them help. My daughter loves to “help” in the kitchen when I’m cooking. “Me do it!” is her favorite phrase right now. So although it creates more of a mess and we move slower I like to let her participate in creating her food. I have a little gotten a few things together to be a her cooking gear.
- Step stool-so she can reach the counter easily.
- Tin measuring cups and measuring spoons
- Small plastic bowl
- Spoon for stirring
- A little bit of flour or oatmeal so she can measure and stir it around–this is where things generally get messy! 😀 I like to just let her go to town mixing and stirring and then also let her help “wash” the dishes in the sink and sweep the floor afterwards.
- Have low expectations for introducing new foods. It is generally thought that it takes 10-15 times of introducing a new food for a toddler for them to accept it. So be patient. I’m going to repeat that: be patient.
- Sneak it in! I add protein powder to Layla’s oatmeal and baked snack goods! She has no idea she is getting extra protein and she loves it. I also like to blend up spinach in smoothies for her–she totally thinks she is getting a “milkshake”. I like to sneak vegetables into our dinners by adding spinach or onion or green pepper or carrots finely pulsed into soups, stews, casseroles, and even spaghetti! While I want my little one to love vegetables in their true form, I’m also not above some covert tactics to ensure she is getting vegetables!
- Dip-dip-dip! Isn’t all food tastier when you dip it!? Ranch, hummus, and the classic ketsup can go a long way in making new foods more appealing. Layla even will occasionally enjoy raw broccoli with ranch dip! A miracle!
- Don’t fight over food. My pediatrician gave me some great advice on toddler eating: “You pick when and what and they pick if and how much.” So I can control when–I determine meal times and IF snacks are available and what I put on her plate. I try to have at least one thing I know she likes and if she picks at or refuses (if or how much choices) the main dish she can eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a bowl of oatmeal (with that sneaky protein powder!). We will probably enforce “courtesy bites” when she is older, but since I’ve gotten over the “make it her eat” mentality meal times have been much more pleasant.
- Make it fun! Keeping the tone light and happy when encouraging her to eat has helped her try new things. When we eat our veggies like a lion or gnaw on them like a beaver she thinks it is hilarious! She’s also more apt to try new foods when she sees a friend her age or us enjoying healthy foods!
- Fill in the nutritional gaps with a high quality children or toddler vitamins. We recently tried Zarbee’s Naturals Toddler Vitamins to make sure Layla was getting all the vitamins and minerals she needs. She loves her “special candy” and I love that it has “all yum, no yuck! It is
- Formulated with 11 essential vitamins like A,C and B12
- Uses honey as a sweetener
- Made with fruit pectin
- Contains natural fruit flavors
- Two formulas one for toddlers ages 2+, and one for children ages 4+
Right now it is conveniently in Wal-Mart stores! I found mine in the vitamin aisle near the pharmacy. And you can get $5.00 off Zarbee’s Kid’s Multivitamins (Children’s or Toddler varieties) available at Walmart for a limited time! Zarbee’s also offers a Baby Vitamin D option that I want to check out for Barrett.
It’s not easy getting your toddler to eat nutritiously, but, as I remind myself often, Rome wasn’t built in a day.I didn’t start liking half the vegetables I like now until I was a teenager! It will take time for her to embrace eating healthy foods, but I can consistently involve her in her food choices, praise her when she eats (and loves!) healthy food, model healthy eating, offer her a quality multivitamin, and allow her to explore food at her own pace.
Would you give Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Multivitamin a try with your picky eaters?
Any tips that have helped your kids eat healthy?