The Terrible {Almost} Twos – Your Child CAN Survive on Cheerios

Allie from the Practically Green Mom shares some tidbits on feeding a picky toddler!  

The Terrible {Almost} Twos – Your Child CAN Survive on Cheerios

Hi, I’m Allie, The Practically Green Mom. I’m a green(ish), mostly vegetarian, coffee addicted mommy of a 17 month old boy.

My son has recently entered the “picky eater” phase. Like most other things parenting related (I’m a first-timer here!), I was unaware that this happened so soon. Before, he would eat just about anything that I put in front of him (and a few things off the floor occasionally…) Now, his diet consists of black beans and Sargento Colby Jack cheese sticks. It is that specific. Pinto beans? “NO!” Swiss cheese slice? “NO!” Sometimes, I can coerce him into eating applesauce or Cheerios. Veggies? Not so much. If they are hiding in those little baby food pouches, I can usually sneak some in (then I eat what he doesn’t finish). In typical PGM style (aka: worrywart extraordinaire!), I am concerned that he’s not getting all of the nutrition he needs. I mentioned it to my mom last weekend when she came for a visit…and she howled with laughter.

picky eaters

“Beans and cheese? That’s fantastic! You lived on Cheerios and apple juice until you were three!” (I somehow doubt this, as I vaguely recall a picture of me covered in spaghetti sauce when I was about my son’s age…)

So, now what? Do I just offer him food, only to have it thrown all over my kitchen floor? (THAT is why I have dogs! Clean up on aisle five!) What do I do when he refuses to eat in the highchair, then as soon as he’s free, he walks to the fridge and says “More!” What if tomorrow he decides he done with beans and cheese, and I can’t figure out what he wants?! He’s very good at vocalizing what he DOESN’T want…which is apparently EVERYTHING…

Luckily, Dr. Sears has it all figured out for me, in this article on “Feeding the Picky Eater“.

Being a picky eater is part of what it means to be a toddler. We have since learned that there are developmental reasons why kids between one and three years of age peck and poke at their food. After a year of rapid growth (the average one-year-old has tripled her birth weight), toddlers gain weight more slowly. So, of course, they need less food. The fact that these little ones are always on the go also affects their eating patterns. They don’t sit still for anything, even food. Snacking their way through the day is more compatible with these busy explorers’ lifestyle than sitting down to a full-fledged feast.

They may eat only fruits one day, and vegetables the next. Since erratic eating habits are as normal as toddler mood swings, expect your child to eat well one day and eat practically nothing the next. Toddlers from one to three years need between 1,000 and 1,300 calories a day, yet they may not eat this amount every day. Aim for a nutritionally-balanced week, not a balanced day.

It’s like he’s IN MY KITCHEN!

He has some great tips on making food “fun” for your toddler (so maybe they won’t realize what they’re eating…) This tip sounds perfect for our situation, so I’ll definitely be trying it!

Offer a nibble tray. Toddlers like to graze their way through a variety of foods, so why not offer them a customized smorgasbord? The first tip from the Sears’ kitchen is to offer toddlers a nibble tray. Use an ice-cube tray, a muffin tin, or a compartmentalized dish, and put bite-size portions of colorful and nutritious foods in each section. Call these finger foods playful names that a two-year-old can appreciate, such as:

  • apple moons (thinly sliced)
  • avocado boats (a quarter of an avocado)
  • banana wheels
  • broccoli trees (steamed broccoli florets)
  • carrot swords (cooked and thinly sliced)
  • cheese building blocks
  • egg canoes (hard- boiled egg wedges)
  • little O’s (o-shaped cereal)

Place the food on an easy-to-reach table. As your toddler makes his rounds through the house, he can stop, sit down, nibble a bit, and, when he’s done, continue on his way. These foods have a table-life of an hour or two.

To sum it up…

  1. Toddler meal-time is frustrating and messy.
  2. BUT…your child will not starve!
  3. He CAN survive on (mostly) Cheerios for an extended period. (I’m living proof!)
  4. Once you finally give in and buy the jumbo box (with TWO bags of cereal in it!), he’ll change his mind once again!

Wish us luck on our ever-changing food journey (and good luck to you, if you’re in this stage, too!)

Come join me over at The Practically Green Mom for more mom/toddler antics (and occasional good advice!)

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