I love the fact that my daughter can finally feed herself, but I often have mental blocks when it comes to creating new healthy foods that are toddler friendly. I want my daughter to eat more than the same four options listed on every kids’ menu. I want to entice her palate and help her appreciate the wide variety of flavors that healthy food has to offer. Starting this process at a young age is an imperative part of preventing her from becoming a picky eater down the road. Before we get into the healthy meal ideas, I wanted to give you a few tips on how to introduce new foods and how to prevent a picky eater.
1. KEEP INTRODUCING THE SAME THINGS OVER, and Over, and Over again (times 12) and then Over again
Toddlers are actually willing to try new things if we will let them. They may act like they don’t like something on the first try, but it can often take up to 12 or more introductions of a food for a child to truly form an opinion. And, while some foods (such as ice cream and chicken tenders) will always get the finger licking sign of approval, you may be shocked by the vast amount of healthy and diverse foods your toddler will grow to love.
2. NEVER TELL YOUR CHILD THAT HE/SHE DOESN’T LIKE A FOOD
So, instead of giving your child a taste of a new food, seeing a wrinkled nose and a tongue thrust and saying, “Oh, you don’t like that,” try telling your child what they are experiencing. For example, if they taste a lemon let them know that it is sour. If they eat a pickle let them know that it is salty. If they try a new texture, identify the texture by saying that it is crunchy or slimy for example. If you tell your child what they are experiencing rather than assuming that they don’t like it, they will be much more likely to try it again in the future.
3. DON’T FORCE FOOD
If your child has tried something new and doesn’t want any more of it, save yourself the grief of a food war. Praise your child for at least trying the new food, and then let them know that they can try it again on another day. Forcing them to eat a new food that they haven’t yet acquired a taste for, may actually cause them to revolt and dislike the food in question. Force feeding is never a good idea…no matter what the age.
4. DON’T INTRODUCE NEW FOODS COLD TURKEY!
When introducing new foods to your toddler, make sure that you are also giving them foods that they know and like. In this way, they won’t feel like you are sabotaging their mealtime or taking away their favorites. Introducing the new food at the start of the meal when they are most hungry may also lead to a better outcome.
Now, for the healthy meal ideas for toddlers…Instead of listing my favorite recipes I decided to direct you to some GREAT ONLINE RESOURCES for toddler recipe ideas. These websites are always coming up with new and exciting recipes for little ones. Don’t be afraid to try the ethnic foods! My daughter loves Thai, French, and Mediterranean foods. If you cook for your FAMILY with your toddler in mind, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy. It’s not a bad idea to have some back up options in the pantry, just in case your little one’s taste buds aren’t up for Thai quite yet. I always keep a supply of organic squeezies like the ones made by Ella’s Kitchen in my pantry. That way, if mealtime starts to be a battle over new foods, I have a healthy alternative. Your toddler will get there eventually; you just have to be patient. Check out these four recipe idea sources by clicking on the hyperlinks. Not only are the recipes delicious, they are healthy and fun!