Toddlers are notorious for being fussy or picky eaters. Mothers end up fighting a losing battle in trying to get their fussy toddlers to eat healthy foods. The trick is to make meals which are fun and which actually grab the attention of the picky eater. As a rule of thumb, toddlers do not enjoy large meals, they much prefer -hand’ or snack food and moms who are at their wits end, should look at preparing at a few -fun meals’ each day, while offering in-between healthy snacks.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so try and ensure that the toddler eats a healthy one. There are many ready-to-eat cereals on the shelves, but cooked porridges like jungle oats or maltabella are a good choice and tend to be more filling and wholesome. Serve small portions and decorate the porridge with slices of banana or apple. Add honey for sweetness. Teas, such as Rooibos Tea is an excellent source of antioxidants and iron, try to give the toddler some honey-sweetened tea.
A mid-morning snack need not be a feast, but moms can offer fruit, or dried fruit sticks. If the child is not too partial to fruit, a Smoothie is a great idea. Add strawberries, bananas, yoghurt and milk and serve as a milkshake.
Try tuna-fish sandwiches for lunch. Cut the sandwiches into triangles; serve on a colourful plate with a few slices of cucumber. Fish fingers with few oven baked chips are another lunchtime treat. Chicken nuggets with mash – remember to add a few veggies (brightly coloured carrots or peas will add a touch of colour to the plate. Remember to keep the meal as simple as possible. Young children are not gourmet eaters and they look simply for foods which look good and taste good. There are many ways to disguise vegetables and fruits, such as coating the veggies in a batter, or adding fruits to a Smoothie or to yoghurt.
Offer an afternoon snack; this may be a small snack, like a whole-wheat biscuit and a slice of cheese. There are also good and natural -chips’ on the market. These chips are vegetable chips rather than potato chips and their bright colours may be all that is needed to lure the fussy eater.
Supper does not need to be an extravagant affair and if the toddler has a healthy appetite during the day, they will be less likely to want a large supper. Try to stay away from fruit before bed – it may be a bit too acidic for their gentle tummies. Perhaps try a small portion of rice, mince mixed with veggies.
Colour and presentation is important when trying to tempt these notorious fussy eaters and as long as artificial colourants are avoided, moms can use their imagination and create mouth-watering and colourful meals. The rice and mince dish can be served on a lettuce leaf, to look like an island – dot a few raisins or even peas around the -island’ to resemble fish! Other quick meal ideas, include, whole-wheat toast and marmite, a boiled egg with -soldiers’ – slice the toast up into fingers, or try fruity trifle with custard.