By Rachael Moshman
I was the director of a childcare center focusing on infants and toddlers. I also have a daughter of my own. I know firsthand how tricky feeding toddlers can be. One week, they only want to eat yogurt and string cheese. The next week, they refuse all things dairy. Figuring out what to feed them can be frustrating.
Here are some recipes that have proven success with both the children at my childcare center and my own daughter.
- Pasta salad is easy and hits every food group. I use pasta that is easy for small fingers to work with, such as spirals and macaroni. Then I add chopped up pieces of cooked meat, cheeses, veggies and hard-boiled egg. A favorite combination is small shells, cubes ham and cheddar cheese, frozen peas (thawed) and quartered grape tomatoes. This meal is great served hot or cold. Add a bit of Italian or ranch dressing if a little extra enticement is needed.
- Pancake and waffle sandwiches are also very popular. Cut a waffle or pancake in half and put a cooked egg in between the pieces. It doesn't need to be just for breakfast, though. Make a lunch meat or peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch or dinner. We even have ham, egg and cheese sandwiches on whole wheat waffles for dinner sometimes.
- Create a dippable feast. This is a good way to ensure children are eating a variety of foods. Include familiar foods, such as apple sauce, cream cheese, sliced strawberries and teddy bear shaped graham crackers. Then throw in foods you'd like your child to try, such as pepper slices and hummus. Allow children to create their own combinations. This can be modified for any meal or even a snack. I've had many parents tell me they started doing this at home after seeing their children gobble up foods they normally won't touch when presented this way.
- Smoothies are another way to sneak in extra nutrition. When I can't get my daughter to sit still for long enough to eat, I feel a sippy cup with a smoothie and give it to her in the car. I blend frozen banana chunks, Greek yogurt, berries and a big handful of spinach. She loves it and it gives her protein, fruit and a vegetable serving.
Kid friendly recipes don't have to be complicated. Just go with whatever your toddler is willing to eat this week. According to What to Expect (www.whattoexpect.com), the toddler years are tricky for feeding but as long as you offer a variety of choices, eventually they will begin to eat more regular meals.
Rachael Moshman is a mom, freelance writer, blogger and early childhood educator. Find her at www.rachaelmoshman.com