After the initial period of explosive growth in babies, parents may be disconcerted by what seems like an abrupt decrease in appetites as children enter their toddler phases. This is a completely normal part of growing up, but parents should take advantage of this opportunity to instill healthy eating habits in their children while they are young and forging independent eating habits. For more information, you can visit https://pediatriccenter.com/.
Lead the Way by Eating What YOU Like
Part of fostering a healthy relationship with food in children is by showing your kids just what, exactly, a healthy relationship looks like. Eating treats in moderation and eating them intuitively shows your children that you can eat responsibly without restriction. Without concerning yourself of what is or isn’t child friendly, take care to treat yourself to “adult” meals in front of your newly picky eater and answer any questions they have. Always give them a taste if they ask without judgment and, even if they do not like what you give them, praise their willingness to try something new.
Swap Out Milk for Solids
Calorically dense beverages such as milk fill up tummies and dull appetites for solid foods. If you’re looking for something a little more substantive for your kids, try subbing out milk for yogurt as a snack. Try buying yogurt without too many added sugars and sweetening it with fruit or a little bit of honey, to your child’s taste.
Involve Your Child in the Process
Appetite slump in toddlers cannot be solved through sheer force of will or just by putting out as many foods you can imagine on display in front of them. You need to be patient with your child, their changing appetite, and the choices they make as they decide what they do and do not feel like eating on any given day. You can still encourage healthy eating habits in your children without forcing them to eat by taking them shopping for whole foods like fruits and vegetables. Ask them concrete questions what looks appetizing to them (I.e. “do you prefer apples or bananas?”) and take pains to incorporate it into your meal preparation. When you are in the kitchen preparing dinner or lunches, invite them to do some small simple task that they can handle and will give them a feeling of accomplishment.
It’s important to nurture positive feelings around food and eating, so exposing them to a wide variety of opportunities to feel good about food is never a bad idea. One simple recipe you can teach your children is chia "soda”: have them pop chia seeds in a container with water and your child’s favorite juice.
Rice Cakes: Your Secret Weapon
Rice cakes are a versatile base for a wide variety of treats, sweet and savory alike! You can spread a thin layer of peanut butter on for a quick, on-the-go snack or take a more involved route to make up a meal. Peanut butter with no added sugar and some jam or preservatives smeared on a rice cake makes a crunchy, satisfying alternative to the traditionally carb dense PB&J .
Or, take a different approach to your mom’s go-to “ants on a log” by switching it up with hummus and chia seeds. The possibilities are endless. Let your child take the reins and get excited about their food by setting out the ingredients—raisins, hummus, peanut butter, jelly, seeds, chopped nuts, fruit—and let them “paint” their rice cake as they see fit. They will love to eat their very own creation, and it will keep them busy as you get things done in the kitchen!
Popcorn is an underrated superfood! Popcorn is a sneaky whole grain, packed with fiber, that is easy and quick to make. You can customize it to your kid’s tastes while still controlling the amount of oil that goes into preparing it if you cook from whole kernels, as opposed to the microwaveable bags. Heat oil in a pan, and add a two or three kernels. Wait for those to pop to indicate that the oil is hot enough and then remove from heat. Add kernels to coat the bottom of the pot in a single, even layer. Cover, return to heat, and give it a good thirty seconds.
Dress it up for dessert with a drizzle of melted chocolate or chopped up chocolate bars, or keep it a healthy snack by giving it a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for a “cheesy” flavor.