Ever struggle with how to encourage your toddler or preschool age child to eat nutritiously? You put together a meal that you took time in the kitchen to make, only to find out your child who you adore and love doesn’t like what you made. Well, let’s think about some ideas that can help change your little one’s attitude towards food. I’m sure he prefers the easy microwavable type of meals that are high in fat along with other not so nutritious ingredients. More than likely his favorite foods doesn’t have the nutritional value that you as a parent would prefer. Let’s find a way to minimize the frustration and meet not only your needs but satisfies your child’s appetite.
Well, you want to include the four important components for lunch and for dinner. These components are protein, fruit, vegetable, and bread or bread alternate. In addition, don’t forget breakfast. Breakfast should be something nutritious as this is the first meal of the day to carry your toddler's oomph through the morning. So for breakfast you want to include two important components which is a bread or protein accompanied with a fruit. These meals should include milk or a nutritious drink like fruit juice. Water is important to have around throughout the day. If you have a child that isn’t a “breakfast eater”, you might find it easier to include a nutritious snack sometime between breakfast time and lunch time. A nutritious snack can be cutup fruit with a couple of multi-grain crackers and juice. If you keep the portions small, this shouldn’t spoil the chance of your child having an appetite for lunch later.
Here are some foods that I find are simple to put together, doesn’t take a lot of cooking time, easy for them to feed themselves with, and generally satisfies their appetites:
Lunch and or dinner meals
These are only some of the ideas listed for each component. Keep it simple. Toddler's tend to shy away from mixed foods like in a casserole. They seem to like their foods separate in small portions. Once your child get older, he might be willing to try foods that are mixed and with more variety.
- For a protein, sandwich meats like pieces of chicken, ham, or turkey, pinto beans, kidney beans, refried beans, cubed cheeses like cheddar or Monterey Jack, yogurt, cut up hot dogs (without skin for first timers), and tuna mixed with small amount of mayo.
- For a fruit, I usually remove the skins and serve mandarin oranges sections, cut up apple, cut up pear, pineapple tidbits, cut up cantaloupe, peach, grapes sliced (careful, these can be a choking hazard for first timers), and banana cut up in cubes.
- For a vegetable, I find the little ones like to dip veggies in a small portion of mayo, ranch dressing, or melted cheese. Some of the veggies I’ve had success in encouraging little ones to eat are; green beans, peas, carrot strips, cooked carrots, broccoli, potato wedges, corn (not on the cob), and cucumber (no skin). Did you know that it’s best to steam your vegetables rather than boil them in water? I have learned that by steaming them, you could take maximum advantage of their nutritional value.
- For a bread or bread alternate, I serve breads broken up in pieces like; regular sliced wheat bread (the less seeds the better chance they’ll go for it), biscuit, flour or wheat tortilla, rolls, and buns. Or you can cook up some plain pasta either wheat or regular like; penne, macaroni, rigatoni or pastas that are easy for them to pick up or poke with a toddler fork.
Breakfast meals again, these are only some ideas
- For a bread or bread alternate, I look for a multi-grain type of cereal that doesn’t list sugar as their first ingredient, scrambled eggs (with nothing mixed in it), soft breakfast bars with fruit in the middle, toast with butter cut in squares, plain waffles or pancake (some like to dip in a small amount of syrup), multi-grain muffin, and mini bagel.
- For a fruit, I serve the same types listed above.