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This is sponsored by Enfagrow® Toddler Next Step™
Cooper just turned three and if I had one word to sum him up at this age, it would be: I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.T. Dealing with a tiny toddler who wants to be his own boss has been, ahem, a trying time.
He doesn’t want to nap, he doesn’t want to sleep in bed at night, he only wants to go potty by himself (door locked!), he demands long sleeves and jackets on hot summer days, yells “no” like it’s his job, annnnd wants to set his own menu like he’s a head chef at Junk Food Cafe. Not happening, buddy.
I’m not an expert in child nutrition or a doctor but I do know that he needs a balanced diet to help his body grow, his brain develop and to give him energy for his nonstop wild personality. So here are our tried-and-true tips for getting our toddler to try almost any food and enjoy healthy eating:
Give Them Multiple Choices
This is a trick that works every time. Scene: Coop wants jelly beans. Not taking ‘no’ for an answer. I ask, “do you want grapes, a banana, or both?” – and immediately he ponders it and responds with an answer that isn’t ‘jelly beans’. Give them multiple choices where every answer is a win.
Fill the Gaps
Even with a pretty adventurous diet, almost no toddler is going to get all the nutrients he or she needs. Because the first 3 years of life are such an important time of brain growth and development – 85% of brain growth happens in the first 3 years – DHA is an important nutrient in a toddler’s diet as DHA is a building block of the brain. On average a toddler’s diet only has about 25% of the expert-recommended amount of DHA, leaving a gap in nutrition. Enter: Enfagrow® Toddler Next Step™ – it’s a milk-based drink that has DHA, important vitamins, and prebiotics to help bridge the nutrition gap. You can grab a free sample of Enfagrow Toddler here.
Call It Something Special
We don’t call broccoli ‘broccoli’ – it’s ‘magic trees’. Similarly, cauliflower = white trees. Green beans = green pea pod sticks (creative, right?!). Carrots = crunchy orange sticks. The whole idea is to rename the vegetable or whatever food is offending the toddler with a word with which they have a positive association. Make it silly, make it fun.
Deconstruct the Meal
My kids will NOT eat a turkey sandwich. Weird. But they love bread, turkey, cheese, hummus – all the things you’d have on a turkey sandwich. So I just break it down and serve them slices of turkey, a slice of cheese, a side of hummus, and a piece of bread and it’s all gone STAT. You can try deconstructing any traditional recipe by keeping the ingredients separate (tacos, sandwiches, pasta dishes, etc) and they might just eat it.
Sneak it In
Smoothies are one of my favorite way to sneak superfoods into my toddler’s diet. I add traditional smoothie ingredients like milk, yogurt, berries, bananas, etc but I also add stuff he usually wouldn’t eat alone, like spinach, flaxseed, kefir, and coconut oil.
Skip Sugary Drinks
We generally don’t keep juice in the house, so the only choices are water or milk. Occasionally, we’ll let them have lemonade or juice but by not keeping sugary drinks in the house, we’re not having a constant battle over drinking too much juice and having them fill up on empty calories.
Make It Fun
I don’t do the cute sandwiches made into faces – props to those who do! – or make anything too fancy. But sometimes a little prep to make food more fun goes a long way. One of the easiest ways to get lots of healthy choices in front of kids in a fun way is by serving them in an ice cube tray. It’s novel, it’s cute, and it allows them to make choices. Win/win/win.
This is sponsored by Enfagrow® Toddler Next Step™. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog.