It can be heartbreaking when you spend ages making a healthy meal for your toddler and they push the plate away and refuse to eat any of it.
Fussiness at this age is a common problem faced by parents and although most children grow out of the fussy stage before they start school, it can be challenging to find meals which they will eat.
There are however a few tried and tested favourites which work for both kids and parents.
Wholemeal pasta or soba noodles
Pasta is generally popular with small children as it doesn’t require cutting up, is soft in texture and comes in lots of interesting shapes and colours. When shopping at the supermarket allow your child to choose what sort of pasta interests them. Many children also prefer the sauce served on the side as a dip rather than coating the pasta. Pasta sauce is also the ideal place to “hide” vegetables your child is not keen to eat. Use a blender to puree up a smooth sauce with onion, carrot, tomato, capsicum, broccoli or any other vegetables.
Smoothies and Ice Lollies
Many children love eating fruit, but often they have a firm favourite and will not experiment with different fruits. An ideal way of getting them to eat fruit is by whizzing up fruit with some juice or milk and making it into a smoothie. Smoothies can be drunk at any time of the day but a child may be more likely to drink them if they see other members of the family drinking smoothies at breakfast or lunch. Alternatively, once the smoothie has been made, freeze it into ice lollies and offer them to children as a healthy alternative to ice cream or chocolate.
Fast food alternatives
Chicken nuggets are a hit with nearly all kids, but parents are put off by the processed meat and deep fried exterior. However, it’s easy to make a much healthier version of nuggets at home. Simply take chunks of chicken breast, dip into a little flour to coat, then into egg and finally into breadcrumbs. Brush a little oil on top and then grill them under a medium heat for 20 minutes, turning regularly. Crushed cornflakes also make a great coating for nuggets, and the same method can be used to make homemade fish fingers.
Pizza is another childhood favourite, and again it doesn’t have to be fatty and unhealthy. Pizza is something which the child can get involved with making, and to make things quicker use ready-made pizza bases. Anything can go on a pizza, and it’s another way of introducing a fussy child to vegetables. Encourage them to design their own pizza by placing the toppings on, then sprinkle cheese over the top. If you are preparing the pizzas yourself, try making a face with the toppings by using olives for eyes, pineapple for teeth and strips of chicken or ham to make the hair.
For children who don’t like using cutlery, finger food is a great way of getting them to eat healthily. Kebabs are the ideal way of combining vegetables and meat, or fruit, and can simply be grilled before serving. Allow children to assemble their own kebabs by offering a selection of cooked chopped meats, chunks of cheese, tomatoes, cucumber or pineapple. Children enjoy making patterns with the different foods and are attracted by the bright colours of the vegetables. Once kebabs become a popular meal in the home, you can push the boundaries by adding in some prawns or more unusual vegetables.
And if you need some healthy ideas for kids birthday parties click here