Getting your toddler to eat is no small feat! The constant changes in likes and dislikes are enough to make you want to pull your hair out trying to come up with toddler meal Ideas. You either make a separate meal for your toddler or end up leaving some cut up fruit and snacks on the table for them to eat whenever they want. You are not alone! All of us that have toddlers are struggling with this and some things work for some and not others. If this is you then we feel you, hang in there and read on for some tips that may work for your picky eater.
For more information on why you are having eating problems you might like this article on Toddler Eating Problems
I decided to research toddler meal ideas because frankly, I am at the end of ideas of what to feed my 2-year-old. He won’t eat meat unless it’s sausage he either spits it out or won’t touch it and now he is starting to not like vegetables either, snacks are the only thing I can count on him eating some days so how do you get past this and get your little one to eat?
This is what I found that works for our picky eater and hopefully, you will find it helpful and maybe give you ideas on what to feed your picky toddler.
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Toddler Meal Ideas
I have talked to our family doctor about the picky eating and she said that he will eat when hungry and it is all normal. Taste buds change and some foods like vegetables suddenly seem scary or weird looking making them not even want to try taking a bite. The key to getting them to eat vegetables is to offer them in small amounts at every meal and they may eventually try them and start eating vegetables, however, this can take up to 10 times of it being offered to actually work but don’t give up just keep offering them.
webmd.com says: It’s perplexing, but your child’s food fatigue is not as unusual as it seems, says pediatrician Jennifer Shu, MD, co-author of Food Fights. “Adults may suddenly become tired of the same foods, too.”
However, little ones don’t have the language skills to express their sudden change of heart about food, leaving you in the lurch at meal time.
Shu tells WebMD that a toddler’s rejection of favorite foods is natural, but could become problematic when you mistakenly assume that it means “I hate this food and I never want to eat it again.”
The first thing to do is not overreact your little one isn’t trying to upset you and second teething or illness can cause a loss of appetite as well. Some older toddlers may do this for attention to show independence or because it’s fun to watch your reaction. The best thing to do is take it in stride and don’t react negatively, try using the ice cube tray method with a variety of colors and types of foods.
If you are trying a new food do so earlier in the day when your little isn’t tired and aggravated. Most toddlers are into eating in the morning and not as much in the evening so use those times to introduce something they haven’t eaten or may have tried too late in the day. I find that my son will eat a big breakfast and barely any lunch or dinner. Sometimes he may skip his lunch and eat dinner after his nap and have a snack later.
Adding a dip may also work, making mealtime more fun when they have something to play in and eat off their fingers. I have found that having Donny pick out his food to eat he is more likely to eat it then if I choose for him. Also buying organic chips that he likes and having guacamole or hummus for him to dip it in helps get to add some protein and superfoods into his diet.
Another tip is to feed him whatever he will eat, even if he wants pizza for breakfast or cereal and fruit in the evening. Designate the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to be food your toddler can pick out to eat.
Try getting a table and little chair for him to sit at, this may make mealtime more inviting and he may sit still to eat. Mealtime at my house is a battle to get him into his high chair to eat unless he is super hungry I have to chase him around and sometimes bribe him with sesame street. Most of the time we will sit and eat with him but sometimes we aren’t ready to eat when he is and he can watch an episode he loves while he eats.
Whatever gets your little one to eat is always a win!
Meal Ideas That Might Work
Here is a list of great meal ideas that will add protein into your little one’s diet without much fuss, especially if they have an aversion to meat like my little guy does!
Manucili Pasta With Pesto or Pasta Sauce With Cheese:
Boil water, add some salt, and cook pasta then pour sauce or pesto over top.
The fun shape of the pasta makes for a pleasant and exciting eating experience for your little one!
Alphabet Pasta With Veggies:
I use chicken stock and boil the pasta and veggies together until the pasta is done and veggies are soft.
You can use frozen veggies of any kind for this and it only takes a few minutes to cook.
The color is bright and fun and the chicken stock helps boost the flavor and most little ones love the alphabet shapes.
Corn Bread Waffles:
Breakfast works well for dinner and helps mix things up a bit! I use the jiffy cornbread mix and my waffle maker to make these.
The bonus is that it has egg in it as well and you can add fruit on the side or on top for added flavor.
Scrambled Eggs and Sausage:
Sometimes this is a good go to dinner if your child will eat the eggs and sausage! Mine only eats sausage and occasionally eggs.
Hummus And Veggies:
Hummus is a great source of protein and whether you make it yourself or buy it, this works great with tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers as a dip for a fun meal idea.
I would pair this with a sandwich like a peanut butter and jelly if possible. I know sometimes they just won’t eat anything else but it’s worth a try.
We have used peanut butter and crackers to get our little to eat something when he is not interested in food that day.
For an added bonus you can try the pasta that is made out of veggies and add sauce to it and see if your little one likes it, I started buying this kind of pasta recently and it doesn’t taste any different, our son ate it up. Another thing I have noticed is that he is bored by his food sometimes if offered something new he eats it right away. Your picky eater may not be picky and might actually be a bored eater so try new things and maybe it will work!
Sometimes your toddler is excising independence so try to offer one meal with no other options, if they won’t eat save it for later and when they ask for food give them the same thing again. After a few times of this, you may find that your little one isn’t as picky and eats what is given at mealtime.
Other Suggestions For Your Picky Eater
If all else fails I give Donny the Mighty 4 Pouches so that he still gets some nutrition when he refuses to eat all day, they work great and are like drinking a smoothie and filled with 4 food groups so you can be sure your little one is getting what they need even if they refuse anything else.
I also use Happy Tot super food snacks because they have veggies in them and are a great way to trick your toddler into eating vegetables.
Final Thoughts on Toddler Meal Ideas
You can also make smoothies and add in yogurt and kale and anything else you want them to eat, this usually is a win-win but some toddlers may be more stubborn and not want it! It’s all trial and error (I usually add in a little sugar-free ice cream and make sure that he sees me do it so that he will drink his smoothie).
I know how frustrating it can be to get your toddler to eat trust me I have tried almost every idea on Pinterest for meals to feed my toddler that are suppose to work and none of them have, even the ice cube tray with different options is a fail for me. Just hang in there and try some of these ideas and maybe they will work for you.
These are what have worked for me so far until he hits a different phase and then we may be trying a new way lol. There is no manual for our children as mom’s we just have to go with it and try until something works.
The point I can’t stress enough is to not react when they refuse to eat!!! You will only fuel them to keep doing it if you stay calm and say “ok” and simply take their plate away for the next time they are hungry it will be tiresome to them and your little one may be more willing to eat for you.
Another thing that works well is to have at least one food on their plate that they like so that out of everything on it if they won’t eat what you made at least your little one will eat the one thing she likes. This also helps when it comes to trying new food or food not liked a whole lot, for some reason having a portion of food they like helps them try the food they aren’t sure of!!
Try a variety of foods and keep them on their plate at different meals for at least seven times, usually, that is how long it takes them to try a portion of new food and possibly like it.
Let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions to add I would love to hear them!
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