Getting toddlers to eat a variety of nutritious food can lead to battles at every meal. While exhausting, it is also a great opportunity to build good nutritional habits at a young age. Starting from the very first spoonful, it is important for babies to experience a healthy relationship with food. Here are five tips to help reduce the mealtime blues:
1. Incorporate new items into foods they already love. If your toddler loves love mac and cheese, why not add in some pureed cooked carrots or butternut squash into the noodles and instantly add a new level of nutrition. This also allows children to be introduced to new vegetables without being forced out of their comfort zone.
2. Offer choices, whenever possible. Let your outspoken toddler decide what’s for dinner by providing them with several acceptable and healthy options.
3. Make mealtime into family time. If your baby or toddler is eating either in a different location or at a different time than the rest of the family, they might be missing out on the concept of the family meal.
4. Allow your toddler to try a taste of new foods rather than forcing them to eat an entire serving. This way, children can be accustomed to new flavors in a non-threatening way. Sometimes it may even take two or three times before your toddler accepts a new food, and you can praise them for being adventurous!
5. Make a grocery list together. Allow your child to write or draw items they want to shop for at the store. Talk about foods that grow as opposed to those that come in a package. Encourage your child to choose some fruits and veggies for the week. This will allow independence, but also encourages children to start developing preferences for healthy items rather than packaged foods.