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Before I had kids, I knew that I would never have picky eaters. After working in childcare for several years, I found that the secret of curbing picky eating was to offer a wide array of foods for them to try. My kids were going to eat spinach, avocado, salmon, and at least try all the foods on their plate. I had it all figured out.
Until I had kids.
I did all the “right” things. We had avocado as her first food. Sweet potatoes were added in soon after. I made sure her plates had all the colors of the rainbow. Fruits, vegetables, proteins. Most days my child ate better than me. Then we entered the picky eating stage.
I remembered this stage from when my brother went through it. His salads consisted of cheese, dressing, and croutons with a sprinkle of bacon bits. One summer he went to Children’s Choir Camp and ate nothing but green gel. I knew that survival was expected, although my sanity would waiver. We would make it through.
We would survive.
Even if she chose to only eat crackers for dinner, we would make it through.
But what about her brain? 85% of brain growth happens in the first three years of life! There’s a reason we started with avocado and all the good fats as her first food. Now she wasn’t even getting nutrients from breastmilk. Would she struggle with reading when she starts school? I’m supposed to help her lay the foundation for lifelong learning and I was wrecking it by letting her eat the only foods she would eat. It is important to ensure she’s getting important DHA to help nourish her brain growth, and I was failing her. Experts recommend that toddlers get 70-100 mg of DHA EACH DAY to support early brain and eye development.
My baby was not getting anywhere close to that.
Did you know that on average, a toddler’s diet only provides 25% of the recommended amount of DHA? This leaves a huge nutrition gap. Most toddlers only like to eat cereal, cheese, bananas, regular milk, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, carrot sticks, and fruit puree like applesauce. Guess how much DHA these foods contain. If you guessed 0 mg of DHA, you would be correct.
What is a mom to do?!
We decided to try something new.
Picky Eating Survival 101
Thankfully we implemented a few tricks of the trade and now I’m not as concerned. Read on to see how you too can survive this stage with this Picky Eating Survival 101 Guide.
Fill their plates as usual. She would still get her plate of all the foods I want her to eat, as well as some of the foods she would eat, and to drink we would pour Enfagrow® Toddler Next Step™ into her cup to drink. We would still encourage her to take one bite of the foods that weren’t her favorites. There are some foods that she wouldn’t want to try but after taking a bite, she would eat the rest of it because she really did like it. Enfagrow Toddler is a milk-based drink tailored for toddlers ages 1-3 years that has DHA and complements their diet to help ensure good nutrition even during their picky eating stage. It’s also a great alternative to sugary juices drinks.
Not only could I rest assured that she was getting help with her daily intake of DHA, Enfagrow Toddler also has prebiotics and other important nutrients that toddlers may not get enough of in their picky eating diet to help support the immune system. While it’s now available in a convenient 32oz liquid bottle, my daughter prefers the powder we have to mix up. You can request free samples and learn more when you visit http://bit.ly/2x4rdaN.
Don’t make a big deal about it. In this season of toddlerhood, they are seeing which battles they can win. They will try to win every one. If they know you will engage in the fight over a meal, they will try you. The stubbornness of our three-year-old is like no other. If I go into a meal telling her that she has to eat everything on her plate, it’s like it all of a sudden turned into Opposite Day. She will do exactly the opposite of what I say and ask. Pretend that you don’t care. Trust me.
Let them graze. At a conference once, I heard Dr. Bill Sears speak about the picky eating stage. He said that when his kids went through that stage, his wife pulled out ice (affiliate link) cube trays and filled those with fruits, vegetables, and proteins for the kids to snack on during the day. It was fun, and they knew their kids were getting nutrients from the foods in the ice (affiliate link) cube tray. While a little skeptical, I was willing to try anything. Low and behold, the food in the ice (affiliate link) cube tray was gone, and it wasn’t because the dog ate it.
Set your expectations. Our kids know that when it’s dinnertime we all sit at the table to eat. No one gets up until everyone is finished and they must ask to be excused. Before we did this, meal times were insane. Four little kids running around the house with a dog on the hunt for food, it never ended well. We also leave distractions elsewhere. No phone, no television on a regular basis, no books unless I’m reading the book, nothing to distract us from eating the food in front of us and talking about our days.
Dip it. This will depend on your toddler, but mine LOVES to dip her food. It doesn’t matter what she’s dipping in what as long as it’s a dip.
Keep it small. This one is super important to remember. The size of a toddler’s stomach is about the size of your fist. Go ahead, make a fist. Now think about how much you put on their plate at dinner (or lunch). Yeah. It’s okay! We forget these things. We use salad plates for the kids so that I have a visual reminder that they don’t need an adult portion. Sometimes I use the salad plate too.
Remember that it’s just a season. As with most seasons, it feels like it lasts forever. As a mom to four, I know it doesn’t. My kids who wouldn’t touch foods if they weren’t chicken nuggets and applesauce are now eating salads with avocados, salmon, and hard-boiled eggs. It doesn’t last forever.
I hope you have found these seven tips for picky eating survival helpful. Did you have a picky eater? What tips and tricks can you share with other families going down this road? I can’t wait to hear your suggestions!
Toddler Brain Growth & DHA
This is sponsored by Enfagrow® Toddler Next Step™