It can be a struggle to get your toddler to eat new foods. When you’re on day 15 of your toddler not wanting to eat anything else other than macaroni and cheese and Ritz crackers, you might seem like all hope is lost; but it’s not. Sure, it does take a little finesse to accomplish, but overall, it’s not impossible to introduce new foods to your toddler. Let’s review some of the most common and practical ways to ease your toddler into new foods without a fight.
Is Your Toddler a Picky Eater?
We’ve all known picky eaters in our lives. Some adults tend to still embody their picky eating habits well into adulthood, but more-so out of personal preference than anything. A toddler’s brain, on the other hand, is not as developed as an adult’s brain which has years of situational experience to back up their decision making. In other words, toddlers are very black and white thinkers. They’re still at the age where they’re working out the intricacies of conversations and where your line in the sand is on certain topics.
What Foods to Introduce and When to Introduce Them
Toddlers can eat all the foods from all the basic food groups: fruits; veggies; dairy, meat, fish, and beans; and healthy fats. There are a few foods that parents should make note of that are best introduced when toddlers reach certain stages of development. These foods are as follows:
- Whole and Reduced Fat Milk
- Crunchy Vegetables
After roughly 2 years old, all of these foods are great to incorporate into your toddler’s diet for a ton of reasons. When introducing new foods to your toddler’s diet though, make sure to stay away from these troublesome foods:
- Hard candy
- Chewing gum
It’s best to postpone introducing these foods to your toddler until after the age of 4 since they could choke on them more easily than other foods. Once you feel that your toddler is ready to take the plunge to these foods though, make sure that they’re supervised at all times. By encouraging them to chew slowly and make sure they sit at a table, you can build a routine and habit that can last a lifetime.
How to Minimize the Mess and Make New Foods Fun
To make it easier on you and your toddler, use these parenting nutrition tips when you’re ready to introduce new foods into their diet:
- Introduce new foods with old favorites. When your toddler sees new foods next to their favorites, it has the effect of making new food less scary. Your toddler might not choose the new food right away, but keep on trying to introduce the new food in a positive manner, and sooner or later your toddler will try it out.
- Offer them a smaller portion. Giving your toddler a small spoonful of a new food is less overwhelming than a big helping. Also, this way, if your toddler wants more, all they need to do is ask you.
- Let your toddler see you enjoy the food. Monkey See, Monkey Do, right? Right. Your toddler just wants to emulate you. What better way to fulfill their inner want to be like mommy or daddy like eating the same foods that they like. This makes it more likely that your child will follow your lead instead of getting hung up on the characteristics of the new food.
The best advice for parents of toddlers is to be patient during this process (which you should be a pro at by now since you’re a parent of a toddler for Pete’s sake). As your children become accustomed to tasting new foods, they’ll naturally want to taste even more new foods. This will eventually lead to eating new foods and open their eyes to a world of tasty cuisines.