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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: Nutrition for Toddlers: Little Sammy

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nutrition for Toddlers: Little Sammy

It's been a long while since I've done a Nutrition for Toddlers post.  A long time!  To be honest, life changed.  I have more babies... and older kids.  Spending time posting about toddler nutrition had to fight with all the other fun things to post about.  And the other things won.  Sorry!

But I have received email and more email about these posts and my menus over the years... and those menu posts remain, to this day, my most hit and popular posts of all time!  I have a handful of posts I wish were the most popular... but alas, the people call for toddler nutrition and menus.

Well just this weekend, I received another one of those emails.  (I love emails!!!)  And I thought I'd share it, and my response, with you.  I'll be editing both... and the names are being changed for privacy reasons.  Keep in mind that this is my answer to this one mom, but I know she's not the only one out there who struggle with this or my menus wouldn't be so popular!!  This is how I would try to address some of the concerns she brings up.  So here we go...

 Dear Babychaser,

I came across your blog while looking for sample menus for my toddler.  I have found your information very useful, even if it's dated back to 2008. 

I am going desperate because I don't think my 16 month old is getting proper nutrition.  Do you ahve any other information, printables, charts or whatever that can help me?

(and from another email...)

He loves french fries and juice! That's about it. He refuses most meals and he's even refusing milk. He was on formula, then on toddler formula and I started him on whole milk last week but he doesn't seem to like it at all.

I am definitely going to implement most of your suggestions (I especially loved the "15" rule)....  I am a single mom and I'm really beating myself over this all the time....  I am thankful for your fast response and I'll be grateful for all the help you can give me.  I wish I had more information to give you but the truth is, I haven't tried hard enough.  I relied on the formula.  Now that there's no formula, I've realized my mistake and I'm willing to make it all right.  

~Sammy's Mom

Now, again, I've changed names and I've left out parts of the email to keep this from being too long. :) 
And I must take a moment here to mention that I am not a medical professional or nutritionist... just a mom who has been down this road a few times.  Please consult your own doctor or nutritionist if you feel there is a problem with your child's nutrition!!!

That said, here's what I have to say in response:

  1.  Let's start with the french fries:  This may take more time than you are used to (depending on what sort of fries he's used to), but I'm going to suggest making a bridge (like I mentioned in my 8 strategies posts) starting with the fries.  Instead of fast food or frozen fries, try making your own from fresh potatoes.  Season the way he's used to for starters (then maybe you can reduce salt, etc. a little at a time later on) but use a healthier oil or bake them.  Try to get them to look the same (steak fries or stick like or whatever).  If he'l eat those, make another change.  Try sweet potato fries (similar texture and shape) next.  Same shape.  Before serving them for a meal, try putting them out as a snack... or eat them yourself and share when he shows interest.  Be very no pressure!!!!  Make enough for a few days of this at least and just keep munching on them yourself if he doesn't seem to like them.  Once he eats this, try something crazy, but still a bridge... maybe carrot sticks (similar shape and color and cooked so they are soft).  If he is used to dipping fries in ketchup, offer the ketchup with the soft carrot sticks.  If he won't eat them at first, offer dip of some kind whether he's used to it or not.  See if you can think of other bridges from here, or in place of the others if they don't seem to work (bread cut into stick shapes, etc).  Keep in mind though that rule of 15!
  2. Now for the juice:  I don't know which juice he is used to drinking, but if it's a sugary one, your first switch could be moving to a juice that is all fruit juice.  A great second step would be beginning to dilute the juice.  If he's used to straight juice, begin by giving him 3/4 juice to 1/4 water.  Next day with a bit more water... third day even more water and less juice.  It may take a week or two (or more depending on your son) but try to get down to as little juice as possible.  We've gotten to a place where we get them a cup of water, then add a splash of juice... enough to give color and a hint of flavor, but no more.  Reducing the juice intake (though still getting water into him) will reduce the number of calories he gets from the juice.  This (hopefully) should help him to be hungry enough to be willing to try some different foods.
  3. A thought about the milk:  Again, I don't know what you've tried already, but have you offered it warm?  Cold?  We made the change from a bottle (for my first) to a sippy cup at the same time we switched from formula to milk.  Maybe a different cup would help.  If you did this already, maybe he would take it in a bottle (though I'd try to get away from bottle when you can for the dental reasons, but let's take one thing at a time.)  You may even think about helping him to drink it out of one of your cups. 
  4. One more thing:  Try to get the most nutrition out of every bite you can get into him (whole grain breads, etc).  If he's going to be a picky eater, try to be selective about what you offer.  Reduce or remove sugary foods and drinks completely so he'll be hungry for more healthful foods.  Other empty calories like white bread can also fill him without giving nutrients. 
There are so many other things I could say (as you all know, I'm a talker!!), but I don't want to overwhelm you any more than I already have.

I do want to say this though... Please don't be too hard on yourself.  Parenting is hard (as is life!), and we make "mistakes" all the time.  And I'm sure this is especially hard as a single mom.  Less time, less money, etc.  All we can do is move forward and keep doing our best.  I will assure you though, that you are not alone in this.  God can and will help you with this (and everything else in life) if you ask Him.  I'd love to point you in the right direction if you have any questions. 

And I'd love to know how all this goes.  Please keep me posted... or feel free to come for more ideas if these don't seem to work.  I'm willing to try brainstorming more ideas. 

I hope all this helps... I'm emotionally involved now and I'll be praying for you and your son as you work to make menus and try some new ideas!

Many blessings,

P.S. My toddler likes the same chewable vitamins my 3 and 4 year old take each night with dinner.  If he'll eat them (or other sort of vitamin), that can help with vitamins and such that you worry about until you feel more confident, or even after.  My kids take them (as do we.)


Well... that's was my response.  And I'm glad to say that I heard back again from her with some more detail.  So stay tuned for another post following up and adding more ideas!

Anyone else have any ideas for Sammy's mom???  Have you ever been in her shoes?  Feel free to share some encouraging words with her! :)



At November 30, 2011 at 11:06 PM , Blogger Kristin said...

Of my 5 kids, I've only had 1 that I would call picky, but he is extremely picky so it is a challenge!

Sammy's Mom,
Definitely don't beat yourself up over a picky eater. I've fed all my children the same way and only one of them is picky. Sometimes it is more about the personality of the child than the habits of the mother. BUT even if he is picky as a result of something you've done, you've decided to make a change and that's what is important!!

As far as milk, we've actually made a decision as a family to limit drinking milk. My oldest two children (ages 9 and 7) drink a glass at breakfast, but the rest of us do not drink it at all. We choose to get our calcium through other foods-- cheese, yogurt, broccoli, etc.

I agree with Babychaser about the juice. Watering it down is a great way to maintain the flavor while limiting the sugar (even natural sugar). I still water down juice for my 9-year-old out of habit!

One of the best things I could say to you would be this: Children grow up and seasons change. While you are right in being concerned about providing proper nutrition, it is likely that he will stretch his tastes as he gets older. My 5-year-old extremely picky boy eats far more now than he used to! And my brother who grew up picky (and is now a 29-year-old adult) eats lamb and duck and things I'd probably never dream of eating. :-)



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