As a mother of a two-year-old and a 3 month old the snack menu can become mundane. My two-year-old loves chocolate chip granola bars - He refers to them as “bars”. I can hear him walking around the house asking this now, “Mommy I yike a bar fweeze”. Sometimes, I honestly cringe when I hear that word! Yes he could be eating something much worse, but he could be eating something much more healthy.
I’m sure most of you mother’s can agree that having time to sit down and eat yourself is challenging. Someone is always tugging you, wanting you to hold them, wanting you to play trains, needing to be changed etc. Motherhood is a beautiful journey that is exhausting! It is important to replenish yourself while keeping your kiddos healthy and happy too.
In my experience, patience and persistence is the key to feeding a toddler. Yes, those are the two magic words - sounds easy right? No. I don’t know how many times I’ve dreamed of placing couple pieces of broccoli, some tomatoes and carrots on my son’s plate and walk away to come back and see that it’s all gone (and by gone I don’t mean thrown on the floor).
My son, like most toddlers, doesn’t like many of the textures that come along with fruits and vegetables. I offer and have him try them daily but that doesn’t mean he’s getting all that his body requires. I do however notice that when I continually offer the fruits and vegetables he will eventually try them. He loves anything that crunches – especially things that are white and in a square shape, crackers. I started introducing some different types of foods with crackers at snack time. This gives him what he wants and what I want him to try as well. If he doesn’t try what I offer then he doesn’t get to continue eating the cracker. (For example, I wanted him to try some cheese on a cracker and he took the cheese off without even trying it and ate the cracker.) I make up various combinations from crackers with hummus, cheese, almond butter, cucumbers etc. - of course not all at once. By adding variety to our snack-time, we have learned that our son loves cucumbers and hummus. I feel that both are a wonderful choice and much more healthy than resorting to the pre-packaged granola bar and crackers all the time.
Another way I’ve brightened up snack time is by blending together a smoothie (or as my little one calls it, “Milkshake”). It varies day by day with what fruits, vegetables and juices or milks I have. One thing that is good about making the shakes is you can enjoy one too! My favorite one to blend together is 8 oz almond milk, 1 banana, 3 ice cubes, 1-2 tablespoons almond butter or peanut butter (gets the extra protein into picky eaters), strawberries and 1 cup spinach or kale. Spinach?? Yuck you may think. You actually don’t even taste the greens at all! It’s a win, win situation with your toddler. He thinks they are drinking a milkshake when in reality it’s a healthy snack. For my shake, I enjoy adding flax seeds. My son got ahold of mine once and said “eww Mommy there’s rocks in this”. By blending the shake together you can incorporate kitchen skills as well as bonding time. My son loves to push the blender button - which has helped us overcome the loud sound it makes. Previously, he would cry and cover his ears when I would turn the blender on, but allowing him to be involved has helped him overcome that fear.
Fellow mothers out there, snack time does not have to be a battle and doesn’t have to end in tears. Know that your child’s taste buds are growing and developing and they will eventually come around to biting off that piece of broccoli. In the meanwhile, have fun and be persistent with introducing healthy options but have patience if they don’t eat them right away.
~ Jessica Fox, Contributor
Carolina Pediatric Therapy © August 2014
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