Tips from Experienced Moms: How to get your toddler to eat healthy food
Guest post time!
Beverly Chester wrote this post for me. We were friends in high school, grew up, had kids and have reconnected via social media (of course). She has all the makings of being a bad ass mom. She is a nutritionist for goodness sake. She worked with pre-school aged kids when she was in college and it looked so simple. Little did she know, when she had a kid of her own, how difficult nutrition can be for a toddler. She’s the mom of two boys (seriously how do you do it?) and also super hilarious and honest about motherhood. Here ya go – Enjoy!
My undergrad degree is in Nutrition Science and I focused much of my internship experience on working with preschoolers. We read books, developed lesson plans, played games, made rainbow smoothies, and educated parents on effective ways to get their preschooler to eat healthy food. It was AWESOME! Now that I’m a parent of a toddler, I realize toddlerhood is where dreams come to die.
Alden is my almost-3-year-old. He’s fantastic! There are days he is wrought with emotion, of course, but when I compare him to the other toddlers I’ve ever met, he ranks high among them. Despite him being so stinkin’ rad, he won’t eat what undergrad-Bev could get preschoolers to eat. Undergrad-Bev had some charm or charisma that was magnetic to toddlers. Mom-Bev can’t reach that level of cool anymore.
Here is a comparison of what Undergrad-Bev would tell her preschool parents to do and what Mom-Bev thinks of her advice.
Problem #1 – Toddler eats too many sweets
Undergrad-Bev Advice – Make fruit kebabs! Kids have fun dipping strawberry slices in chocolate sauce.
Mom-Bev Response – He hates fruit. Seriously, he licks the strawberry juice off of the strawberry. IF I give him chocolate sauce with it, he uses the strawberry slice as a vessel to deliver the chocolate to his mouth.
Problem #2 – Toddler doesn’t eat vegetables
Undergrad-Bev Advice – Try making vegetables look cute with Japanese bento-insipired designs.
Mom-Bev Response – WFT? I barely have time to brush my teeth… Besides, kids notice when you’re trying too hard. They’re like cats – if you try too hard, they want nothing to do with you.
Problem #3 – Toddler wants to help cook
Undergrad-Bev Advice – Have kid friendly recipes that your toddler can help
Mom-Bev Response – I try to keep him OUT of the kitchen as much as possible. My kid wants to touch all the raw bacon. If we bake something together, the only thing he wants to do is dump all of the ingredients on the floor into the bowl.
Problem #4 – Toddler eats too much salty, processed food
Undergrad-Bev Advice – Learn to cook your favorite kid-friendly recipes at home!
Mom-Bev Response – Chyeah, Alden will not touch my homemade chicken nuggets. He wants ALL the MSG. Some days, I cook Golden Curry chicken just to get him to eat any protein at all, MSG be damned.
Problem #5 – Toddler should eat balanced meals
Undergrad-Bev Advice – Use color, shape, and smell to encourage your child to eat various fruits, vegetables, and grains
Mom-Bev Response – My kid wakes up asking for cake despite the fact that we rarely ever eat it. I’m talking once a month. Sometimes I make him a cake to get him to stop asking for it. It’s gluten-free chocolate cake because I can’t digest gluten, and I’m sure as hell getting in on this cake.
Problem #6 – Toddler should eat the rainbow
Undergrad-Bev Advice – Play games with colors and letters. Let kids pick which fruits and vegetables they want to try each week.
Mom-Bev Response – The only game my toddler wants to play is “wrestle me” or “let me show you my new trick.” Spoiler alert – there is never a new trick. I have yet to discover what he’s talking about. I think he says that just to get me to pay attention to him.
Honestly, the best advice Mom-Bev can give about getting your toddler to eat well is to ignore the hell out of them. You eat your fruit and veggies and don’t make a spectacle of it. Monkey see, Monkey do.
They go through natural carb-monster phases where all they want is a cup of milk and a slice of bread. Barely any protein, absolutely no fruits and veggies. Whatever. Feed them whatever calories they’ll eat and when they want to eat a vegetable, they will.
It just might take a few years.