Toddlers & food, usually not the easiest subject in the life of a parent. Via Instagram I usually get a lot of questions about what food we give Mia and how we get her to eat healthy. And while I am in no way a food expert – nor a kids expert, haha – I do feel we found a good way of handling things surrounding healthy food and a sometimes picky toddler. Let’s jump right into how we do it!
I have 4 very simple rules for eating when it comes to Mia:
1. Keep food fun
2. Offer healthy food throughout the whole day
3. Keep offering (new) flavors
4. And if all else fails: hurray for smoothies!
And that’s it!
So let’s dive into it a little deeper..
Rule number one is to “keep food fun”. I really don’t believe in forcing your children to eat. In this case I consider Mia just like an adult: we all have types of food we don’t like, some days we eat more than others, that’s all fine. I believe in offering Mia a plate of food filled with flavors, and she can pick the ones she likes. This way I don’t have to push her into eating her plate, because there is always something she likes. And I really don’t believe in denying them dessert as a punishment. This way dinner time is a battle for both child ánd parent and let’s not forget: desserts like yoghurt or fruits are healthy so let’s not deny them those.
My rule number two is offering healthy food throughout the day. I feel especially here in The Netherlands we only offer vegetables during dinner time and it’s such a shame! Because why not offer them healthy food throughout the whole day, so they don’t have to eat all their veggies during one meal? Especially because kids can get tired at the end of the day and eating is harder then. In our case we offer Mia a breakfast of oatmeal and fruits, a lunch with most of the times some veggies incorporated, a healthy snack/smoothie around 3/4 o’clock and then dinner. So if she’s tired at dinner and doesn’t eat that much, I don’t have to worry about her not getting her veggies. Offering them some snacks while you’re cooking is also a great tip: Mia loves to eat some cherry tomatoes while I cook and funny enough doesn’t eat the tomatoes if they’re on her plate. So, experimenting with this is key!
And rule number three: keep offering them the flavors. Some days they don’t like carrots, and other days they do. And in Mia’s case, she doesn’t like avocados but she does like it when it’s in a smoothie. So whenever I make a smoothie I add some avocado, and she can get used to the flavor. Keep offering it because they have to get used to some flavors. And in some cases they will not like it and that’s totally fine. I’m 29 years old and still don’t like chicory. That’s fine, right?
So I already mentioned the smoothies. At the moment we notice that Mia is getting picky with vegetables and if we’re not on top of our game, she will only eat the pasta part of our dinner. That’s usually where I throw in the smoothies! We have a blender and a juicer and I alternate between the two. I usually throw in whatever I have in the fridge, a great way to get them to eat vegetables. Mia loves them and it’s such a cosy moment for us, that smoothie at the end of the day.
I really believe that the topic toddlers & food can be made as hard as you want it to be. I say: pick your battles. In my experience there are phases of eating better and phases of eating less. Experiment with ways you can get them to eat food: wether it’s a smoothie, frozen blueberries/peas straight from the freezer, it’s all fine.