Tuesday, September 16, 2014

5 Surprising Toddler Foods

Toddlers are notorious for their picking eating. Our little guy (19 months) definitely has a strong opinion about what he will and will not eat. He never liked pureed food and still won't touch yogurt or cheese; all things I thought were typical toddler foods. Of course he'll eat crackers and ice-cream but at this stage in life kids aren't eating a lot so we try and make what does make it into his mouth count. To do this I simply try everything. I don't assume he won't like something just because it isn't a normal food I would think of for a toddler. So here is my list of healthy foods he loves, even though I think they are odd. These items may not be weird to you because your kid loves them too. I'd love to hear about in the comments section. Below the list is more tips for feeding your toddler.

1) Bone-In Meat

Turkey leg
My son is definitely a carnivore, and I'm not talking about chicken nuggets. He loves bacon (not suprising) and will pick meat out of a meal and just eat that. However, what he loves most is bone-in meat. I'm talking about chicken or turkey legs and ribs. He loves being able to hold it and he gnaws on the bone and cartilage. Obviously keep a watchful eye if you do this as pieces of the bone or cartilage can come off.

2) Bone Broth

Egg drop soup
To go along with all the bone-in meat we are eating, I like to make bone broth once a week. Bone broth is just stock made out of bones and vegetables. I put about 2 pounds of bones (chicken or beef) with a gallon of water, a quart size freezer bag of vegetable scraps, and a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (which helps to draw out the minerals in the bones) in my slow cooker and cook on low for 1-2 days (here is an easy recipe to follow). The result is a broth rich in protein, specifically gelatin. There are numerous benefits of cosuming gelatin (read about it here). The best part is that my son adores it. I will make soup with it but he prefers some warm broth straight.

3) Coconut Oil

You've probably heard about all the benefits of coconut oil. It certainly has a place in our home both as a food and a beauty product. Coconut oil was one of the first foods I introduced to my son. I mixed his probiotics into a small amount and he ate it off a spoon. He also like these banana stacks. We all need healthy fats, but especially little ones. I also cook most of our food in it, or make "bullet proof" coffee (or herbal tea in his case).

4) Herbal Tea

My son loves his herbal tea (and coconut oil!). Herbal tea's are not only a great sugar free alternative to water but they can also be used medicinally. I give my son a mixture of chamomile and catnip tea in the evenings to improve sleep. Chamomile is naturally sweet so he loves it. Read more about some good tea's for tot's here.

5) Seaweed

My son loves toasted nori sheets. They sell small snack packs of them but he prefers the regular size sheets for making sushi. I'm guessing he thinks it's paper that he's allowed to eat, and I'm happy about the minerals and iodine he gets from them.

Other Tips

1) Like I said before, don't assume your toddler won't like something just because it isn't typical toddler food. My son loves raw spinach and sardines. He will eat sauerkraut and snack on green olives. I know all this because I just let him try those foods. I've had plenty of items spit back at me but I'm happy to let his palate develop naturally and not hold anything back. 

2) My son has recently gotten into dipping. He will eat just about anything if he can dip it. Think beyond honey mustard or ketchup; you can use thick soup or hummus as a dip for vegetables, yogurt as a dip for fruit, or I like to make homemade fig butter or date caramel as a dip for sausage. I do often catch him just eating the dip, so I always make sure that the dip is just as healthy as the dipping vessel.

3) You know that saying "out of sight, out of mind?", well the reverse is also true. I leave lots of fruit out in our fruit basket. My son will inevitably walk by and ask for a 'nana' or an 'appa'. This way my son choose a healthy snack that he will actually eat because it was his idea. I also leave is cup of water out so he'll swing by and take sips, because you know, he's got very important playing business to attend to!

4) Speaking of "appa's" (which is an apple for those of you who don't speak toddler), my son prefers them whole not sliced. He's been able to handle a whole apple since he was 9 months old, thanks to his rapid teeth sprouting (lucky us). If your toddler doesn't like a food initially, try cutting it (or not cutting it) a different way. Sometimes in all in the presentation.

5) This is probably an age old wisdom; "try and try again." My son loved eggs for awhile and now he won't touch them. He used to hate spinach and now loves it. Our pallets never stop developing so we try to always offer our son whatever we are eating. He won't always sit still for dinner but he always gets a plate of whatever we are eating with a little bit of everything.

Do you have any tips for feeding toddlers?

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