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Thursday, January 27, 2011

thoughts on feeding toddlers and preschoolers - kids and eating part #2

a little lunch time love
So the other I found myself bleary-eyed, opening the cupboards for breakfast for the children, cup of coffee in hand.



Here are some animal crackers.


And fruit snacks.


Umm, so refined carbs and corn syrup for breakfast.


Mama definitely needs some retooling of her nutritional offerings.

It is so so easy to slide into what is easy with children.

Most days I do better.

I aim for something like this:

Protein and carb for breakfast = toast and squeezie yogurt or eggs and a handful of cheerios

Protein and fruit for lunch = PB sandwich and a cut up apple

Protein and veggie for dinner = Cut up bits of our steak and steamed broccoli

I am really bad about mixing it up though. They are picky but about strange things. Little miss won’t touch dairy, except squeezie yogurt. Little man won’t eat sauce with his noodles. He will however consume steamed octopus, shrimp and pieces of cod and the like. He once ate lamb brain. She loves pistachios and will eat hummous by the spoonful. They both adore broccoli.

Still, I need to work on it. I am re-inspired to try harder after reading this article.

Babies, I have Definite Thoughts about feeding babies. Feeding toddlers and preschoolers is a whole new ballgame though. It changes as their tastes change. Plus, they suddenly have an opinion, and will LET YOU KNOW ABOUT IT.


The best advice I have heard about feeding and nutrition at this age so far is – THEY KNOW WHAT THEY NEED. Your child might not drink milk until age three, might not like sweets or meat, might refuse food one meal and scarf down food the next. The key, I have found, is to always offer a round sampling of things and throughout the day. If my kid skips a meal I put out dried fruit and pistachios in between meals for them to graze on. In fact, we do a lot of grazing. (me too!) What I need to start doing is offering a wider variety of options and put more thought into daily and weekly nutritional scope.

tomatoes are totally yummy when eaten warm from the sun,
straight out of the garden!
Another good bit of advice – think about your child’s caloric and nutritional intake in terms of the week, not the day, and certainly not each meal. Your child may OD on yogurt one day but refuse broccoli and the next day scarf down “rabbit food” for dinner. At the end of the week think back, maybe you need to offer lots of protein over the weekend in varying forms to make up for a deficit? Like I said, they know what they need.

(More from Dr. Sears here about improving your famlies nutrition and more here too on the top 12 family foods to be eating)

There is so much stress about feeding children – maybe because we are so obsessed with calories and nutrition as adults? Everything is diet this and low-fat that.

My philosophy for myself is to eat reasonably, eat “whole” unpackaged foods, and stop stressing out! (This comes from a past of eating issues however which is maybe why kids obsessing over food issues by age 10 or parents obsessing with “making” their child eat XYZ food really freaks me out. Again, this is my ideal philosophy. I surely have days where all I eat is chocolate and chips.)

Food for toddlers and preschoolers should be wholesome and fun. Fun does not need to mean a box with cartoon characters on it. It can be celery “logs” with peanut butter “mud” and raisin “ants.” It can be cheese and fruit chunks eaten with toothpicks. Salads can be nibbled on like “rabbits.” Meat pieces skewered on (dulled down!) shish kabob sticks for a fun eating experience. (More tips here )

Ok. So. I am re-inspiring myself. (But I hope you remember my stance on stuff like this. I am not a hard core person. It’s all give and take, but one can have goals to aim for!)

ice cream. yum.
And, hey, I think it’s natural to go through up and down phases of eating habits. We do it as adults. The key is to try and swing back into it - a little more full force after the holidays, or say, after dada starts making a habit of buying soda for little man on a regular basis. (Umm. No?)

Back to that article.

I am thinking start the day with eggs. Cooked in coconut oil.

Start baking soaked grain bread again (recipe to come!)

Slowly start limiting (ie, weaning off of) juice and get back to kombucha as our main drink.

Limit their gluten intake (so as to not lead them down the path my body has taken!)

Continue introducing them to a wider variety of foods (sooooo easy to do brocolli and hot dogs for dinner because THEY WILL EAT IT WITHOUT A BATTLE. Last night, with peer pressure from cousins, he totally ate vegetable soup! Woohoo!!)

Also, stop battling. It's not worth it. They know what they need, keep remembering that Sara! (Although the comment below reminds me of the days where battling was required to get your kid to eat ANYTHING. lthis can be so hard....maybe keep trying but not to do it in a "battle" type mindset. See this article from Dr. Sears for some great tips on feeding picky eaters. )

Continue to improve the quality of our food sources (no garden at grandma’s in the winter! But…my sister is raising a pig for us so we will have good quality pork coming soon! Yay bacon!)

I think those are good first steps.

But of course, the giant box of fruit snacks will remain in the house. All things in moderation, right? And of course, mommy will indulge babies with their “ ‘nacks” occasionally. Just not for breakfast. You know?


  1. Ugh I wish that were true! If I didn't battle, but mostly bribe, my kid to eat she would literally go days without eating anything... she has gone days with only eating a cookie and a banana ALL DAY. Thats it.

    Thanks for the inspiration though, I am definitely going to try toothpicks! haha

  2. beth - our oldest is the same, or was, it gets better. i think i forget how picky he reallly was for awhile there...the same kind of thing...he didnt eat meat till age 2, nearly 3! i am editing the article above to put in a link to dr. sears on picky eaters...really some great suggestions. one i like best, which we still do, is having a grazing tray out all day...cut up cheese cubes and apple pieces and raisins and little crackers...always available, at toddler height. for awhile we even did a shelf for jack with granola bars and other approved of snacks that he could go into and eat WHENEVER HE WANTED. this is key i think, letting them learn to feel and respond to their own hunger rather than our concept of meal time...of course now that he is older we do a lot of "you have to have one bite of everything" and "you need to eat four bites of chicken because you are four years old" etc. i know its so hard, i think mainly i was saying (to myself!) to remember to relax about it. he isnt going to whither up and die because he refuses to eat his eggs for breakfast...
    read that article though, some really good tips on tempting the picky eater to eat!


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