Yes sadly it’s true. When my oldest was under a year old and exploring a lot of new foods, he seemed to have an awesome diet. He would eat pumpkin, kumara, meat and pretty much anything we put in front of him! But the older toddlers get the more discerning they get. In particular developing a palate quite partial to sweet food! So we have to be a bit clever when it comes to getting more fruit and veges into their meals.
Now, my 3 year old actually has a pretty good, balanced diet for a toddler. But there’s always room for improvement. His latest new word is that everything is “yucky” or just “yuck!”; even for foods I know he likes and eats regularly. And trying to get him to try something new is like pulling teeth! A big part of this is the way foods look and feel. There have been plenty of times I’ve tried giving him something that I know he will like, but because it looks different its “yuck!”. All we can do is persevere and hope that one day they will start eating it. I’ve found they also go through phases of liking things, and it’s always changing. So they might completely refuse something one week then two weeks later be totally in to it!
I recently learned not to stress about the food they eat from day to day, but to take a more wholistic approach, and look at it over a week instead. They will have days when they seem to eat not much or less healthily, but then on another day eat loads and eat really well. So it all balances out over the week. So I try not to stress if he only eats pasta and chicken nuggets a couple of nights a week, and sneak extra veges into his meals on other nights. I know some people don’t recommend sneaking veges into toddler’s foods, but I personally think if you do it in conjunction with giving them foods they like, and also regularly trying them on new foods so they eventually learn to like veges on their own, its ok.
The following are some of the tricks I’ve picked up over the last year or so.
- Cook up a pot of different veges, puree it, then freeze it in small portions (e.g. 1-2 tablespoons). You can then grab one out of the freezer and add it to their meals. I add mine to mashed potato to make a vege mash, add it to pasta sauce, or add it to any other sauce based dishes where you can’t tell its been added! I use vegetables such as carrots, courgette, broccoli, yams, pumpkin, kumara etc.
- Make up a batch of pasta sauce with extra vegetables. You can add grated carrot and courgette, or any other veges you like. You can either leave it chunky or puree it, and then freeze it in portions. Then if I’m stuck for a meal one day I can just cook up some pasta and mix some of the sauce through. The last lot I made had a tin of tomatoes, stock, some dried herbs, tomato sauce, and then the veges.
- Providing a dip of some description has helped my 3 year old to eat carrot sticks, which I’ve been struggling with for ages! He loves things with “sauce”, and being able to dip things in to it. I’ve been giving him hummus to have with the carrot. You just need to find one that they like.
- Make muffins with lots of fruit in them, and either no sugar, or just a little bit. You can also add grated courgette to cake and muffin batters, I’ve even made a zucchini based chocolate brownie! One of my favourite recipes I use for my 3 year old is this Fruit muffin recipe. Its packed with fruit, and has no added sugar, just getting the sweetness from the dates and fruit. The first time I made it I just used 2 bananas and added some grated apple as well. I’m working on a variation of this recipe so will post it once I’ve perfected it! This zucchini hazelnut cake is also really yummy, and it doesn’t feel quite so naughty with the zuchinni and nuts included! I’ve made it gluten free before as well.
Check out my pinterest page for other recipe and food ideas.