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Toddler food — the struggle can be so real. By this age, our tiny humans have developed their own opinions on food, and have no problems saying NO if they’re not interested in something. But we want to fill their bodies with healthy, nourishing foods that give them the right kind of energy and nutrients that help their brains grow. We’ve had our own fair share of food struggles with T — (healthy) food that he used to love he one day decided he didn’t like anymore, weary of new foods, and he became a creature of habit, constantly requesting the foods he loved the most (which narrowed his palette to 4 types of meals). But we persisted, tried a lot of different things to make him more open minded to all kinds of foods, and I can say we’re at a much better place with T and his healthy food habits than we were a few months ago, and I’ll be sharing 5 healthy eating tips for toddlers that helped us tremendously.
5 Healthy Eating Tips for Toddlers
- Avoid the Steady Stream of Snacking: This was a major breakthrough for us in getting T to be open to trying new healthy foods or just eating his meals in general. We found that if we kept his snacking to an absolute minimum, and no sooner than a few hours before his big meals, he’s be ravenous and gobble up literally anything in front of him. We were diligent about his snack schedule and how much and what type of snacks we gave him — nothing too heavy that could serve as a meal replacement (for T, these were bigger fig or granola bars), and not too much milk (also a meal replacement). Nuts, dried and sliced fresh fruits, roasted seaweed, and Harvest Snaps — baked, low carb, high protein crunchy snacks made from peas, lentils, or black beans — are a few of T’s favorite snacks that keep him full enough between meals.
- Make Healthy Food Fun: Another tip that saved us. Gluten Free Pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse, Almonds or other Nuts mixed with T’s favorite dried fruits, cute bento box food accessories for rice meals, Greek yogurt with his favorite superheroes on the packaging — adding a fun, positive association to healthy foods made T more willing to eat them.
- The Family that Eats Healthy Together: We always introduced new foods to T together. We ate them as a family for a meal or as a snack so he saw that we loved the food too and we told him why we loved it We have a special family tradition of doing a celebratory “Cheers!” before we eat something together…..carrot sticks, any veggie of any kind, and it makes T so happy.
- The Power of Choice: T loves grocery shopping with me, so I take advantage of this by giving him options for meal foods and snacks and letting him pick. The options I give him are all on the healthy spectrum, but the power of choice is a major thing for toddlers, and he is way more excited to eat something he chose versus something pre-selected for him.
- Healthy Replacements of the Addictive Stuff: T loves crunchy snacks – and he’s obsessed with chips, goldfish crackers, etc. We try and give him similar snacks that satisfy his love of crunchiness that are healthier instead — brown rice cakes and Harvest Snaps have won T’s heart in the snack category so we keep these in our house at all times when he’s in a crunchy snacky mood. And since Harvest Snaps has a variety of flavors (Lightly Salted, Tomato Basil, Onion Thyme, and so many more), T never gets bored.
These 5 Healthy Eating tips for toddlers continue to help T explore and develop his diet every day. Hopefully some of these tips are helpful for you and your growing toddler, too!
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