The longer you're distracted while preparing his dinner, the more time your toddler has to get into mischief. Though toddlers are often picky eaters, their favorite foods are often simple, so an uncomplicated meal you make in a minute or less may become a new favorite. Every meal you prepare should be packed with nutrients; your toddler's stomach can't hold much food, so everything you provide should serve a nutritional purpose.
Bits and Bites
Toddlers tend to like grazing, according to pediatrician Dr. Sears. Serve a meal that appeals to that tendency by filling a sectioned plate with small amounts of different finger foods. For instance, for breakfast, give your tot a half-piece of toast and a hard-boiled egg, both cut into bite-size pieces, plus some small or diced berries and shredded cheese. Dice up leftover chicken or fish and serve it alongside finger foods such as as crackers, freeze-dried fruits or veggies and sliced avocado. Allowing your toddler to graze over the course of several hours can keep his blood sugar stable and prevent mood swings, says Dr. Sears, but refrigerate perishable food when he's not eating.
When you've cooked pasta thoroughly, it's soft enough for even a young toddler to eat safely. Store a big batch of cooked, whole grain pasta in the fridge and pull out small amounts at mealtime. About 1/4 cup of pasta is an appropriate serving size for a toddler. Heat the pasta and stir in shredded cheese for a basic version of macaroni and cheese, or add grated carrot or chopped and wilted greens to tomato sauce. Try using a familiar base of pasta to introduce your toddler to new flavors such as pesto or chopped shrimp and lemon juice.
Sandwiches and Wraps
Your toddler may not be able to safely chow down on thick pieces of crusty bread, but he can eat sandwiches made of thin bread or wraps. Fill sandwiches and wraps with scrambled egg topped with shredded cheese or crumbled bacon, a thin layer of cream cheese and jelly, or sliced turkey or ham with cheese and tomato. Make these foods manageable and appealing for a toddler by slicing them into strips, or use cookie cutters to cut them into shapes.
Smoothies are creamy, colorful and sweet, characteristics that most toddlers love, so, if your toddler turns up his nose at fruits and veggies, you can sneak them into a smoothie. Use a base of milk, tofu or yogurt for protein and add frozen berries, bananas, pineapple, mango, kale, spinach or a combination of any other fruits and vegetables you have on hand. Add 100 percent fruit juice or carrot juice for added sweetness. Thin a smoothie with extra juice and pour it into a sippy cup with a straw for a meal to-go.
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