5 Tips for a Toddler’s Picky Eating Habits

Toddler-boy-eating-healthy-foodThe toddler years represent a budding of newly discovered independence. One of the primary ways this shows itself is through picky eating habits. Familiar foods that were once your child’s favorites can suddenly meet protest from your growing toddler.

Your child’s quest for control is the root cause for this, and a sudden dislike of once favorite foods is usually about the control factor rather than an actual dislike of the food itself. Here are some things you can do to ensure your toddler is getting a nutritious and balanced diet.

Let them help

Allowing toddlers to become a part of the preparation process can help. Instilling the notion in your child that he or she is in control of his or her own environment, to a certain extent, can work miracles in getting them to eat healthy, nutritious foods.

Allowing your child to pour a container of food items into another container can go far in gaining their interest in what is being prepared on the stove. Allowing a child to arrange cold foods on a plate, or to choose between two foods, such as broccoli and carrots, will make him or her more apt to want to eat it.

Toddler-boy-eating-out-of-bowlDisguise the evidence

If allowing a child more control over what he or she eats doesn’t resolve the problem, consider putting the disliked foods into a new form. Use a juice extractor to juice leafy greens and mix them with fresh fruit juice. Adding green juice to popsicles can also get your child to eat more healthfully.

Smoothies can also be a big hit with toddlers. Blending fruits, vegetables, ice and almond or rice milk makes a delicious and nutritious drink for toddlers and parents alike.  Tossing the leftover smoothie mix into an empty ice cube tray and freezing it can make a tasty ice cream-like treat for later on.

Dress it up

Paying special attention to the way food looks and giving it to your toddler in fun shapes can stir up a toddler’s interest and appetite. For example, serving pancakes with faces made of nutritious fruit can be a successful way to make the food more appealing. Try putting mashed potatoes into a plain ice cream cone. Toddlers love to have fun with this one.

Providing nutritious finger foods in colorful plastic dishes can also help. Toddlers tend to seem less overwhelmed when foods are cut into tiny pieces, rather than served as whole. Allowing them to snack on nutritious finger foods throughout the day rather than requiring them to eat entire meals can also help.

Toddler-girl-eating-out-of-bowlMake healthy snacks accessible

Keeping snacks in a place that the toddler can reach is another way to ensure that they can exercise a little control and independence over what they eat. Small plastic containers of cereal, raisins or tiny peanut butter sandwich squares that have been placed on a shelf designated for that child only will make him or her much more likely to show enthusiasm for the food. Toddlers love to take ownership of space. Hanging a name tag on a shelf with the toddler’s name or photo on it can help the child understand that it’s OK to help him or herself when he or she is actually hungry.

Meet them half way

Toddlers tend to like the same food served over and again, and will feel content just eating that one food for days or weeks on end. This is a perfectly normal part of child development and should not be a concern, unless the food item the child wants is particularly bad for them.

Altering the manner in which the food is cooked can help a parent make sure that the food provides its maximum intended nutritional value. For example, you can steam vegetables instead of frying them, or simply serve them raw with some kind of dipping sauce.

Simply pureeing various steamed vegetables together can make a great dipping sauce.  Toddlers love to dip their carrot sticks into pureed broccoli or cauliflower. Mashed tofu or avocados also make a fun sauce for toddlers as well.

Toddlers order their own thinking in ways that help make sense of their worlds.  Meeting them half way with their eating issues can help them get what they need, both physically and psychologically.


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  1. My 3 year old grand-daughter has been getting pretty picky these days with the foods she loved. One major food she loved to eat was mashed potatoes, we tried everything to having her even help make it.

    The trick that finally worked for us was by giving her uncooked carrots. To me it sounds yucky, but she loved scooping up the mashed potatoes onto her mini carrots and eating both together.

    Wonderful tips for the variety of options is what helps the little ones continue to eat healthy!

  2. I really like the idea of turning veggies and tofu in sauces! This is a new one for me. Lots of great tips here. Kids are influenced so early-so getting the good habits going as soon as you can really makes a life long impact!