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by: Jessica Arnold

Simple Nutritional Tips and Tricks for mealtime with your Toddler

Chef Joss

How to eat Peanut Butter by Joss:

*Mash both hands into a blob of peanut butter

*Concentrate intently as you thoroughly knead and smoosh your fingers through it

*Stop and quickly glance at both peanut butter covered hands

*Smash it into your face


This eating technique developed by my two year old may seem familiar to other Mom’s with babies and toddlers. There always seems to be more food on or around them (or you for that matter) than actually inside their bellies. And these newly independent thinkers often decide to assert themselves in many ways, including what they will and will not eat at the dinner table. These mealtime scenarios raise the common concern, “is my child receiving enough nutrition” and “will mealtime always be a battle”?

I have come across several tips and tricks on eliminating mealtime battles, making mealtime fun, and balancing nutrition.

Tips on keeping the peace during meal time:

Offer your child several options of healthy food choices and let her choose what goes on the plate. This compromise will give your toddler a sense of control and also prevent the onset of a picky eater.

Include at least one dish that is tried-and-true at each meal in addition to something new. I don’t recommend becoming a short-order cook, but with this method if the “new” food receives the yucky face then you have a fall back plan.

Have set meal and snack times. Some toddlers may ask or demand snacks and juice throughout the day, eliminating their desire to eat a nutritious meal after it has been prepared. To the pleading toddler simply explain it is not time to eat, but that food will be served soon. Then diversion to a fun game or coloring book to pass time may be useful.

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Making Mealtime fun:

Distraction is a key tool in keeping a toddler interested. Serve Breakfast foods like pancakes with fresh fruit for lunch or dinner and grilled cheese sandwiches for breakfast.

Make it playful with dips. Toddlers love finger foods they can dunk. Choose healthy dips like, creamy goat cheese, black bean, or hummus. Whole wheat crackers, mini pita breads, blanched carrots or broccoli are all good dipping options.

Let your toddler help in the kitchen. I know my little one gets so excited to “help” me cook. I will have her stir the batter, add pre-cut veggies to a salad, or pat dry washed greens.

Tricks on ensuring a balanced nutrition:

Include time-tested favorite toddler foods on the table with each meal along with new foods. This will help your toddler receive the nutrition he or she needs and at the same time ease any pressure on trying the new foods being offered.

My Toddler-Friendly Food List:

-yogurt or applesauce

– Rice, or pasta with tomato sauce or cheese

-grilled cheese sandwiches, turkey burgers or scrambled eggs

-favorite fruits such as apples, bananas, or berries

– Vegetables like steamed broccoli, beans, or peas

– Avocado and cucumber slices

Preparing homemade meals for your toddler or baby not only provides better overall nutrition but also teaches your little one good eating habits. Toddlers eating techniques may be frustrating at times, but hopefully incorporating these few basic tips may help your sanity and their happiness during mealtime.

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