Sometimes trying to feed your kid might be the toughest challenge of the day. Even if your little ones have just started to talk, it’s normal for them to be fussy eaters. So, it’s you the parents who can help by giving them the freedom when it comes to choosing foods. One easy way to deal with the issue is by incorporating new tastes and flavors into your kids’ diets from an early age. This would develop their palates and prevent them from becoming picky eaters.
Approximately 25% to 35% of toddlers and preschoolers have been described by their parents as ‘picky’ eaters. Picky eating is characterized by the toddler or a child eating selective food, restricting intake particularly of green vegetables, and moreover being unwilling to try new foods. However, pediatricians and family physicians are often called to help parents and make them learn how to feed children effectively and avoid making mealtimes a daily battleground.
What to Feed Picky Toddlers?
The very first question while feeding kids is ‘what to feed them?’ So, if you’re searching options you can try the below-mentioned lunch ideas, healthy snacks, or dinner meals that would enhance your kid’s interest in food.
1. Tomato Soup
Picky kids mostly like the flavor of vitamin C-enriched tomatoes, but not its squishy texture and the seeds. So, tomato soup can be a great alternative. It’s generally lump-free and seedless and you can make it your own, at home. Also, to make it more attractive for fussy eaters you can add few fun-shaped crackers.
2. Veggie Dumplings
Veggie dumplings are easy to prepare healthy food for picky eaters. These pasta-like pockets are a good way to offer carrots and onions. They’re easily prepared with wonton wrappers and kids will love it because of its look consuming nutrients at the same time.
3. Yogurt Parfait
Yogurt is a healthy option for kids. So, you can create your own parfait with yogurt loaded with fruits, and cereal toppings. Definitely, it’s a big hit with kids.
4. Icy Grapes
Picky eaters often don’t like the texture i.e. the skin of grapes and peeling them is a big issue. Also, peeling it makes it deprived of many antioxidants. So, the solution is just pop the grapes from the bunch and put them into the freezer, and this can transform the texture making it edible for kids. For kids below 4 years, cut grapes into two pieces to avoid any choking hazard.
5. Homemade Pizza
If you’re wondering how to get your kids excited about vegetables then a healthy homemade pizza with asparagus topping is a perfect solution. You can also experiment with other greenery, such as spinach or broccoli, fresh or frozen, whichever you find best. Prepare a pizza crust at home and top it with margherita or mozzarella cheese, veggies, and bake. It’s a healthy meal for fussy kids.
6. Oat Bran Muffins
Combine 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 1 cup ¾ cup of oat bran, wheat germ, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon rind, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well. In a measuring cup, combine 2 eggs, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, and 1/2 blueberries. Now add this batter to muffin cups and bake in an oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. This recipe would surely be loved by picky eaters.
7. Watermelon-and-Kiwi Skewers
Your kids will love this summer recipe. It’s a good way to feed your children with fresh fruits. Take about 8-inch wooden sticks and skewer them with some thick slices of watermelon and kiwi. You can add yogurt or cream to this to make it more interesting.
8. Diced Cooked Chicken
It’s a perfect way to make an interesting recipe for your kids. Saute onion in oil until translucent then add to it diced cooked chicken, and brown it lightly. Now combine ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, and pepper; mix well. Add chicken, and bring it to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 35 minutes. Fussy kids will consume this healthy dinner recipe with love.
9. Avocado Blueberry Smoothie
It’s not ‘GREEN’ so probably your kids will love it! The good thing is that avocados are full of essential nutrients and you don’t even need to add a sweetener to them. The blueberries will do the trick. Blend 1/4 peeled, pitted, and diced avocado, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup water, one container (6 ounces) of yogurt and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and add frozen blueberries (or fresh) on the top. It’s a delicious and healthy alternative to picky eaters.
10. Cheese Cheddar Cubes
You can also try this kid-friendly recipe. Take about 10-12 cubes of cheese and dip them in beaten eggs to coat. Dredge in flour. Dip again in 2 well-beaten eggs. Then roll them in about 1 cup of breadcrumbs, pressing firmly so that breadcrumbs adhere. Place on wax paper. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Now, heat oil and fry the cheese cubes until golden brown. Take them out to a plate lined with paper toweling. You can use any dipping sauce of your kid’s choice. Picky eaters will enjoy its yummy taste.
11. Bake Protein-Rich Frittatas
It’s another simple, protein-rich recipe that gets ready in just 20 minutes. Mini spinach frittatas can be a good & healthy option for picky eaters. For this, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Then heat olive oil and sauté onion until softened. Now add spinach and stir until spinach begins to wilt & cool this mixture. Meanwhile, take a large bowl, whisk 5 eggs with little salt and pepper. Add feta and herbs like parsley, thyme, rosemary, or chives whichever your kid likes the most. Pour the mixture into muffins and bake for 25-30 minutes.
12. Apricot-Almond Granola
Granola makes a great portable snack loaded with lots of fiber. You can also pack it in an individual reusable container, and even carry it in a purse for hunger emergency. Pack these as a lunchbox treat or even serve it after school. It means whenever your kids ask you to give them to eat something instantly you can offer them to munch it. Just combine 1/2 cup each of almonds, apricots, cherries, and coarsely chopped walnuts. Now prepare 1/2 cup honey and 1/3 cup melted butter. Drizzle honey mixture over this mixture and toss to coat. Spread this mixture in a single layer onto a jelly-roll pan and bake at 350° for 15 minutes; stir. Bake for additional 10 minutes or until lightly browned, cool, and break into pieces. Give your fussy child this healthy crunchy snack to munch.
13. Boiled Edamame/ Soy legumes
Just munching on edamame straight from their shell as a snack is a good option. They work very well as dips and spreads and also are good when sautéed and sprinkled over salads, rice dishes, or pasta. You just need to simply steam them and dress them in other delightful flavors besides salt, like chili powder, fresh herbs, soy sauce, or a sweet and sour sauce and they can be enjoyed as a healthy and quick snack. Children would love them.
14. Baked Polenta Fries
Healthy gluten-free polenta is a kid-friendly snack full of sweet corn flavor dipped in tasty homemade ketchup. You need to spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and line the pan with parchment paper. Now in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the polenta while whisking constantly until the polenta has thickened about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of milk, Parmesan, butter, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir until polenta is smooth. Pour the polenta into the center of the prepared baking sheet and spread to the corners. Spray a second piece of parchment with cooking spray and cut the polenta into strips. Now bake fries until they have developed a crust in a preheated oven to 400°F. Let it cool slightly, and serve with the ketchup.
15. Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potatoes are a superfood packed with nutrients. It’s definitely an easy veggie to turn to a snack when times are tough — like when you’re running after your kid for food. There’s a lot you can do with sweet potatoes like if your kids are toddlers, you can serve them in cubes. Just take a sweet potato, cut into Julian’s, baked to crispy perfection, and seasoned with salt and pepper and this would be a sumptuous snack.
You should also consider and try to find out how picky your child is and accordingly choose dishes for him/her. This makes it easy for you to feed them. It has been reported in a study that flavors from aromatic compounds derived from maternal food consumption are transmitted into the amniotic fluid and breast milk. These flavors have a very strong influence on taste preferences and food acceptance later in life. So, you need to understand your kid’s choice of flavors.
To sum up, it can be said that proper handling of picky eaters is important. Parental efforts to make small eaters eat more may leave an opposite effect on the child. Moreover, caregivers may pressure children to eat without appreciating the physiological decrease in appetite that occurs naturally between one and five years of age. Children’s appetites generally tend to be erratic during these years so, just handle your fussy kids with more attention and love.
- The ‘picky eater’: The toddler or preschooler who does not eat -(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3474391/)
- Picky Eating in Children -(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4422022/)
- Picky eating during childhood: A longitudinal study to age 11-years -(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943861/)
- Toddlers at the Table -(http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/toddler-meals.html)
- Children’s nutrition: 10 tips for picky eaters -(http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/childrens-health/art-20044948)
Important Notice: This article was originally published at www.medindia.net by Shivangi Saxena, M.Pharm where all credits are due. Reviewed by Dietitian Julia Samuel, M.Phil.
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