When L was an infant, she ate all sorts of healthy foods: mashed avocado, pureed squash, eggs mixed with spinach…basically anything I gave her. Because of her good eating habits as an infant, I incorrectly assumed that such habits would continue as she grew older. NOPE!
As we transitioned away from pureed fruits and veggies, L resisted the solid versions. She flat-out refused to eat ANY solid fruits or veggies, raw or cooked. She is now approaching two years old in a matter of weeks, and I worry about how well I am doing with her toddler nutrition.
I have had a handful of successes when serving her a soup with tiny veggies in it, or by placing (again, VERY tiny) veggies in with her rice or pasta. For fruits, I grate them and add to pancake batter, muffins, or yogurt smoothies. Still, I’d like her to know she’s eating healthy foods and not always have to hide it from her.
My other technique to ensure L gets at least some fruits and veggies every day is to serve her a pouch. My favorites are Happy Toddler, Earth’s Best, or Ella’s Kitchen. There are also Kashi bars and Stonyfield yogurts that have fruits and veggies in them.
My concerns in this area are: Should I even offer pouches (mainly designed for babies younger than L) if I want her to be eating actual solid fruits/veggies? Will her eating habits get better as she gets older, i.e. is pickiness at this age just the name of the game? And finally, how do I know that my toddler is getting the proper nutrition?
At our last checkup (18 months), my pediatrician listened to my complaint about L’s non-fruit/veggie diet, but was not concerned. She has a healthy weight and height and is developing normally, so the only thing I could do is to continue to serve the healthy foods I want her to eat.
After talking to other moms and doing some online research, I’ve collected the following tips:
Focus on the big picture. Once upon a time I thought that I was a failure as a mom if my child wasn’t getting a fruit, veggie, protein, and carbohydrate at every single meal. Then my friend Jill gave me a great piece of advice- don’t judge your child’s eating on a meal-by-meal basis. Look at the weekly picture and observe whether there was enough x,y, and z present in the diet. This took the pressure off of creating the “perfect meals” three times a day and allowed me to not feel terrible about an occasional dinner of just noodles with butter.
Keep trying. I used to be of the mindset that it was a waste of food to offer L apple slices at lunch, since I knew they would remain there, untouched. But slowly I see her getting a little more daring with foods she used to ignore…licking the peanut butter off the apple slice (but then still not eating the apple), or pretending to take a bite of the carrot stick. So I’m hopeful that one day she may just take a bite and enjoy it!
Be creative. With the Internet, and especially Pinterest, there is a wealth of healthy, fun recipes for toddlers. Just today I found an insanely easy recipe for apple chips, which are baking in the oven as I write this. (Update: L ate the apple chips and LOVED them. Finally!)
Some helpful websites I have come across with regards to toddler nutrition:
What about you- what are your issues/concerns with your child’s eating habits?