If you’re trying to get your little one to be more adventurous with their eating, these foods for picky toddlers are a great place to start!
We all know what it’s like to work hard on a delicious and nutritious meal only for our little ones to push it away and stick their noses up at it. It’s so frustrating when all you’re trying to do is feed these little humans something that is actually healthy for them (and isn’t just more goldfish crackers).
There are a few keys to getting them to open up to new possibilities when it comes to foods for picky toddlers.
How do I get my picky toddler to eat?
First, figure out what they DO like and then just jump off from there. Do they love spaghetti and meatballs? Awesome! How about adding some carrots and kale to the sauce. Think about how you can slowly introduce new flavors without overwhelming the kid.
Second, keep trying. I have been trying to get my daughter to like new foods for what feels like forever, and part of the problem was I was giving up too soon. Now I ensure she tries something by eating more than one bite and also offer it to her cooked different ways on different days. It doesn’t always work, but she has opened up a little to new things this way.
Third, get them involved. When kids can be part of the process of cooking they are much more apt to dive into their creation and try new things.
What should you feed a picky toddler?
If there is ONE thing I know my kids will eat, it’s pancakes. I like to use this recipe as one of my go-to foods for picky toddlers.
Besides being totally delicious, there are two really great qualities to pancakes that make them the perfect food for picky toddlers.
First, you can add whatever you want to them! I’ve even used bananas mashed up as a replacement for eggs in the recipe I use, and it tasted delicious. So you can always feel free to try new thing and add in healthier ingredients without being afraid that the kids won’t still love it.
That also goes for what you put ON the pancakes. You can go with the standard maple syrup, or maybe try peanut butter or almond butter with apples. I love to put local raw honey on them for my kids.
Second, they can make pancakes WITH you. Pancakes are great to make together because not only is it fun for your kids, but it’s hard to mess up and they will learn in the process. (Hello… the measuring and counting = math skills!)
I feel like I’m constantly in competition with myself to see how much whole goodness I can pack into a smoothie for my kids (and myself for that matter).
I have been using the smoothie trick for years of all three of my kids and it works like a charm! I even wrote about it over on CafeMom when my eldest was a toddler.
My secret hack is to use frozen (not fresh) berries in the smoothie because it makes it super cold and almost gives it an ice-cream-like texture, but you can basically round up whatever ingredients you have laying around the house.
Take some berries, an orange, some yogurt, kale or spinach, coconut oil, juice or milk, and blend. It’s not an exact science. Sometimes I’ve even just done bananas with milk and some peanut butter, and that still came out delicious!
If you have to, go ahead and sneak the veggies in (my hubby likes to include carrots too), but sometimes kids don’t mind eating the veggies when they see how great they can taste in the smoothie.
My kids would eat french fries for every single meal. Unfortunately, not only would it break the bank for me to head out to a fast food place that often, but it is obviously NOT the healthiest option.
The replacement I use is oven-baked fries. I mix up not just the type of potato I use, but also how I prepare them. Sometimes we use regular russet potatoes, and sometimes it’s sweet potatoes. Sometimes it’s just olive oil, salt, and pepper on them, and other times I make it a bit more interesting with garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, and more, perhaps even some cinnamon on sweet potatoes.
Then just like making the pancakes, I can easily get my kids involved. I got these crinkle cutters, and now my daughter can help cut up potatoes into crinkle-cut fries.
OK… I didn’t say this list was revolutionary, but the key to getting a toddler to eat is to just prepare foods you know they already like, but slowly make it more adventurous. Choose foods for picky toddlers is a matter of walking a fine line.
Just like with the pancakes and the smoothie, you can change this up and add more and more unique or new ingredients to expand your child’s palate. Plus, they can also help with making pizza too!
So instead of ordering delivery or maybe popping a frozen pizza in the oven, make this a whole process that you can enjoy with the kids starting with making the dough from scratch. If you choose to make the dough from scratch you can also choose the flour, opting for whole wheat or other flours that might be a little more health-conscious than plain white flour.
Then get the kids involved in choosing toppings. Maybe they’ll actually give peppers or even broccoli a try if it’s on pizza! And if they get to be part of making it themselves then that only adds to your shot at getting them to take a few bites.
Dipping things is fun. It’s almost like painting in a way, how you dip those brushes in the paint, except this time you’re painting your tongue with awesome flavors.
You can even tell your toddlers that, and make a game of them painting their tongues with all different healthy dips.
Try dipping cucumbers in hummus, or bell peppers in guacamole. What about making kale chips and dipping them in some mild and chunky salsa?
I remember my super picky daughter loving to dip into my salsa and gobble it up even though she would never have touched a tomato on it’s own.
Start with something they like when it comes to foods for picky toddlers. Make it fun. Involve the kids in the process. But do NOT feel bad because your kids are picky. You can try all these foods for picky toddlers and more, and your kid might still be a picky eater. It happens.
I gave my daughter all the foods from the time she could eat hoping I’d incoluate her against pickiness, but nope. Once she hit toddlerhood, it was game over, and my adventurous eater became super picky no matter what foods for picky toddlers I tried.
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