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When your Toddler Won’t Eat Anything ~ Part 3

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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: When your Toddler Won’t Eat Anything ~ Part 3

Friday, January 25, 2008

When your Toddler Won’t Eat Anything ~ Part 3

We are talking about basic strategies for encouraging your toddler to eat healthy. You can read the first strategy and source information here before continuing.

3. Switch it up!

Believe it or not, most toddlers crave variety (unless this has been trained out of them by bad food experiences)! If your little one refuses to eat peas today (as happened to me a couple weeks ago) when he loved them yesterday (and most everyday before that), he may just be asking for something different. By inserting broccoli or carrots into the menu in place of peas for a few days, I was able to revive his excitement for peas the next time they were offered!

Even at this young age, God has designed our toddlers to “know” what they need. In order to get our little ones to eat the wide variety of nutrients they need, He has given them a desire to eat a variety of foods (instead of the same 3-4 foods all the time). So… switch it up!

If your toddler is refusing to eat something you want him to eat, make some changes. And by changes I don’t necessarily mean a different food. Perhaps he is tired of everything being “mushy”. Offer carrot peelings instead of steamed carrots… or allow him to self feed a slice of avocado instead of mashing it up and spoon feeding… or make steak fries from the potatoes instead of mashed potatoes. Do you see a pattern here? The same food served a different way can offer variety to your little one! Chicken can be breaded and cut in strips or sautéed in a sauce and served with rice. Ground beef can be served as taco meat or as a hamburger. Get creative… push yourself to find new recipes for the same basic foods! (Your husband and older children will probably love this too!)

In addition… add a new variety of foods to your toddler’s diet! Instead of peas, carrots, and broccoli (3 veggies I find it easy to get stuck on in the winter because I buy them frozen), include asparagus, cauliflower, squash (I was shocked to find that my son loves canned pumkin... try even the crazy ideas), etc. My son loves mushrooms… cooked or raw, flavored or not… try those "adult" veggies! Don’t get stuck on pears and peaches in the fruit department either! Add that mango that is on sale this week (ok… for me it was last week). My DS loves bananas and would eat several a day if I let him… but instead of letting him (seriously… that would be a lot of potassium) I try to spread out 3-4 bananas throughout the week. I am secretly hoping this will keep him from ever getting tired of bananas!

Do you find that at meal times your toddler always eats the bread first (or something else)… leaving the veggies or the meat until last? Try not to let that worry you (and try not to make it a battle). Given enough time at the dinner table, he may just surprise you and finish off the whole plate! Bread is a quick filler for that hungry little one (of course you won't want to let him finish a whole loaf)… after the initial hunger has gone away, he can feel safe to pick through everything else available to him… and the more different foods you have available… the more he will probably eat. It is easy for me, with our little family of 3 (2 adults and a 13 month old), to only have 2-3 foods available in a given meal… a meat, a bread, and a veggie… but put an additional veggie on the table, or a fruit or two, and you may find that your toddler is more than willing!
When your Toddler Won't Eat Anything ~ Part 4

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