adventures in feeding a picky toddler

Adventures with feeding an 18 month old have been....errr...interesting to say the least.

For the most part Sloane has been great but recently {as she develops her sassy little personality - which secretly I really love ;)} there have been several days when food that was once devoured will stay sitting on her plate as she refuses to eat what's in front of her.

I know this is nothing new to some of you more seasoned parents.

I grew up in a household where one meal was put on the table, and if you didn't like it {which you still had to taste at least one bite of everything} you were out of luck and would have to wait until the next meal to fill your little tummy.

Sloane is a little young for that mentality just yet of course, but trying to please the taste buds of toddler is tough business.

What I have determined from reading and talking to other parents - this is normal.

Baby food was easy in my opinion. I could jam pack them with all sorts of healthy ingredients and not lose.  Introducing new flavours and textures however, is a whole new ball game. 

I believe that we have such an incredible responsibility and opportunity to educate our children on what REAL food is as parents.

I love experimenting with new flavours and "hiding" some of the healthy stuff but those days of epic failure can bruise a mama's ego.

Meal time showdowns are the worst.

Luckily this was a hit! French toast with banana, cinnamon and sprinkles {hemp seeds} with a side of "dip" aka maple syrup.

Here are a few tips and meal ideas for the picky eater in your home. 

  • Make food fun: I am doing my best to make the whole "food experience" fun for Sloane. I take her grocery shopping with me, allow her to help unload the groceries, and sit her in her chair so she can see me making a meal. We talk about the food, colours, I let her touch them and taste them. My hope is to make food fun so that she will enjoy helping in the kitchen and understand how food gets to our plate.
  • Focus on healthy fats and proteins: I think it's important to stick to simple tasting, fresh whole foods and in doing so make sure your toddler gets all of the necessary building blocks that he or she needs. Fats and proteins are important for so many functions in their developing body and mind so do your best to ensure there is one of each at each meal. I love including beans, lentils, organic animal protein {although S is super picky about this}, coconut oil, avocado, hard boiled eggs, nuts, seeds, nut butters, and more.

 Different colours and textures. This plate has hard boiled egg with a bit of sea salt, grapes, apple and some mozzarella

  • Hide the veggies: Getting your toddler to eat veggies can be a task. This I now know. I like to play around with blending them into smoothies, homemade sauces or dressings, soups, homemade baked goods, pizza, and raw energy bars. All of these are good places to hide the veggies that they think they won't eat. 1-0 mom when you master the art of hidden vegetables. I also think that presentation can sometimes help. Cut them in different shapes or sizes, serve them in fun and creative ways {ice cube tray or muffin tin tray is fun}. It helps make food more fun for your babe and keeps you from boredom too.

When in doubt, I blend! I know I can hide lots of veggies and other super foods to make sure even the worst of days include good nutrition. Sharing a smoothie with mom and dad is always fun too!

  • Avoid too many snacks: While necessary sometimes of course, I have found when I limit the snacks {even if they are healthy ones} she is much more apt to eat her entire meal. Allow your child to get hungry {also a good tip for adults} so that their little bod actually understands what hunger cues are.
  • Family style meals: This is a work in progress in our house. I used to prep Sloane's meal and let her enjoy it while I finished our dinner but I am trying to break the habit and serve more of a family style dinner ensuring that the meal includes something that I know she will enjoy too. I think it's a great idea to create an environment around meal time as a family whenever you are all able to sit down as a family together. Eat together, laugh together, catch up on your day and create an incredible relationship with food and family.
  • Don't give up: And in the event that your kid just won't eat some days... BREATHE. I have had a few of these and while {outrageously} frustrating I try to remind myself that as they get older this stage will pass, their appetite will fluctuate and if they are really hungry, they will eat... eventually. Try not to give up on certain foods or meals, reintroduce them in different ways, get creative in the kitchen, lead by example and stick to family food rules that you set for your household.

Some recipe inspiration from some recents eats in our house I am calling a success....

Homemade "yogurt" made by blending banana, avocado, frozen fruit, hemp seeds, cinnamon and rice milk.

Snack on the go. Grapes, banana, dried figs, oranges with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

 Sweet Potato + Banana Oatmeal

Raw energy balls that are great on their own but for a toddler easy to crumble up into yogurt or a breakfast cereal.

To give you a bit more motivation, my friend Sarah has been running regular blog posts on Real Food Lunchboxes that I know you will find helpful. This is catered to a bit older age range, but it can help provide you with some recipe inspiration. Another great tool for family meals is 100 Days Of Real Food - such a great resource!