As toddlers begin to explore new food textures and flavors, patience is key. Here are some feeding ideas our teli therapists have suggested and are definitely worth trying with your child!
Make the food easy to eat… Small hands grasp small items! Toddlers are curious and they like to “do it themselves!” Consider whole green beans (steamed from frozen), red pepper strips, roasted carrots, bananas cut into strips, pieces of whole grain bread, for example.
Cook one meal – No need to be a short order cook… your toddler can eat what your family is eating with an eye to texture and portion. You have a limited amount of time and that extra meal preparation can take you away from quality time with your family. Healthy balanced meals are important for everyone in your family and good nutrition is essential to your child’s growth.
Involve your toddler in the food prep process – Toddlers are very active and play is essential to their development. Guide their hand as you prepare ingredients for a smoothie. Provide the opportunity for them to touch, smell and slice the fruit and vegetables (with a plastic knife). They will love pushing the button to start and stop the blender. Sometimes the recognition of “I helped” may increase their interest in the food you are preparing.
Show them how much you are enjoying your meal! – As parents you are well aware of how your child learns by imitation. They look to you for direction. Eat meals together as a family. Enjoy the conversation and social experience it provides. Once they see you eating something, they may be more willing to try a new or unfamiliar food based on your encouraging response.
Try and try again – Don’t be disappointed if your child doesn’t embrace a new vegetable or protein on the first try. Your toddler may be a little hesitant while they are getting used to a new texture or flavor. It’s not unusual for a child to need to be exposed to a food 10 times or more before they eat it.