Yummy Toddler Food
The Local Mom’s Network (all of us!) are big fans of Yummy Toddler Food. If you haven’t heard of this blog yet, we wanted to take a few minutes to introduce you to one of our favorite resources online for, well, really yummy toddler food. Some of our go-tos in this house include mini pumpkin muffins and baked chicken tenders, but there are so many great toddler-friendly recipes to try on this site. Amy Palanjian, recipe developer, blogger and mom of two, takes foods most kids like – such as the aforementioned muffins and chicken fingers – and puts a healthier spin on them (‘hiding’ veggies or nut butter for added nutritional value, baking instead of frying, etc). Added bonus for moms everywhere – she’s also written several cookbooks and put together downloadable guides for toddler eating. Major win.
The Local Moms Network asked Amy to answer that question every single parent of a toddler has asked themselves (and in our house, definitely multiple times a day!): “How do I get this kid to eat better?”
What are your best tips for getting toddler to eat well?
- Create mealtime structure. All kids, but especially toddlers, thrive on routine. So the more you can create structures around mealtimes (when they happen, where they happen, expected behaviors, etc), the better the outcomes will be.
- You decide what to serve. I know how strong the opinions of our toddlers can be, but it’s important that we not let their likes and dislikes dictate what we serve—because if we only serve the 5 foods they love most, that’s all they’ll eat. Aim to serve a variety of healthy foods throughout the week and don’t stress if your kids don’t eat every single one.
- The kids decide which foods and how much of them to eat. Once you decide what’s for a meal, stick to it. No getting up to make a second meal if your child says they don’t like it—instead, let the child decide what of the foods you served they want to eat, and how much. This philosophy of the Division of Responsibility in Feeding can be a game changer with resetting the power dynamics at the table.
- Don’t force, coerce, or bribe the kids to take bites. We want meals to be fun and light, not a stressful situation. And nothing good comes of forcing a kid to eat broccoli in the long run—and the goal here is to raise a healthy eater!
- Talk about things other than the food to take the pressure off! Change the subject if someone is upset about the meal. Ask about school, see if they can tell jokes. Distract, distract, distract. It may sound silly, but it totally works!
Are there “mistakes” you see well-intentioned parents making?
I think we all get too caught up in the bite-by-bite. I encourage people to look at their child’s intake over the course of a week, when you’re more likely to see balance. Kids can vary so much in terms of what they eat, and how much they eat, from meal to meal and day to day, that getting too hung up on one meal is a recipe for stress.
Are your daughters great eaters?
I like to call my kids enthusiastic eaters. They have definite likes and dislikes and their intake varies day to day. If my kids don’t eat a meal, I assume that it’s because they’re not hungry enough—not because they’re being picky—and we carry on. In my mind, it’s not a big deal if they eat more or less because they are the only ones who can feel their hunger (just like I am the only one who can decide how much is right for me to eat at any given time!).
What’s one recipe you have on repeat in your house?
We make my Fluffy Applesauce Pancakes again and again. I love that there is fruit right in the batter and that the kids are getting a sweet breakfast that they enjoy that also has fiber and vitamins. Plus, the leftovers reheat really well for quick weekday breakfasts!