Great Snack Ideas for Kids {Tips and Tricks}

You know the saying, “Variety is the spice of life”? This really holds true when it comes to toddlers and food. I sometimes get in a rut when I go grocery shopping. I buy the same fruits, veggies and snacks over and over again. And I notice that after a few weeks of the same handful of choices my son starts to lose interest in those foods. He even started to turn down berries for breakfast or dessert so I knew things had to change.

This summer I have been buying strawberries, grapes and apples weekly. On a quick trip to Trader Joe’s with my son he saw the oranges from across the store and literally ran to them with glee. He practically begged me to buy some for him. So I obliged and threw in a bag of oranges. I asked him if any of the vegetables looked tasty and he grabbed a crown of broccoli. We got home and immediately he asked for an orange. I peeled it and he devoured it in minutes. Then at dinner time he asked to help make the broccoli so I let him break some up to put in the steamer. He ate that as well (along with a few bites of chicken).

It seemed as though having him choose a few items that he was willing to try lead to him eating more than normal. So I started looking for great suggestions to keep him excited about the food we served him so he would be more willing to eat. Now I don’t expect him to eat like a champ every day. Toddlers eat like cavemen. They scavenge for a few days and just snack a tiny bit and  then they have what I call eating days where they seem to not get enough. Eating days maybe come every 4-5 days… Below are a few tidbits I’ve found from various sources that now help me keep things exciting for him when he does decide to eat.

1. Get the Kids Involved in Meal Planning
Starting the week off with a list of meals to make each day not only saves time but ultimately helps save money as well. Adding the kids into the mix will also save tears and aggravation at dinner time when your child doesn’t like what’s been put in front of them. Let your child help you meal plan so they can choose what they want to eat. Perhaps start by letting one choose one meal a week. Or if you have younger children like me, let them choose the side dish (carbs, starches or veggies). If my son has chosen his veggie than he more than likely eats at least 3 bites of it when served to him at dinner.

2. Take the Kids Grocery Shopping
I know, I know. It’s a pain to take the kids in the grocery store. I used to dread shopping with both of mine and would wait till the weekend to do all of my grocery shopping alone and kid-less (plus I got to indulge in a coffee that wasn’t cold while I shopped). But then, like I mentioned before, my son got excited about eating the food he chose. And I’ve been taking him alone without the baby so he feels like he has my complete attention when I shop. It’s a great bonding time that I actually look forward to now! Plus as your children help choose the meals and then see what ingredients go into the meals they may just start to get interested in making the meals.

3. Let the Kids Help in the Kitchen
Grab that stool from the garage or closet and push it up to the counter. Find odd jobs while prepping for dinner that are safe for your child to do. I purchased a child-safe knife from Pampered Chef that my son uses along side me to chop up herbs while I chop up veggies. He also helps rip up lettuce for salad, add pre-measured cups of ingredients to the bowl and crack eggs. When he starts cooking with me he gets excited about the food he is working with. He’s even taken to eating lettuce and salads without prompting because he prepares the salads for mealtime.

All of these three things will lead to your child not only being proficient in making meals for your family but will also help your child stay on the healthy track. By giving your child the opportunity to make smart choices about food, and then showing them how to prepare the meals to eat, they will know what to do when they get older and have to think about food on their own. My greatest challenge to myself right now is to try and lead a healthier life for my children so that I am the role-model they look to when they choose how they’re going to eat and live.

A great tidbit I heard in a panel discussion at BlogHer’11 from one of the speakers was that the old saying “Do as I say, not as I do” holds no value. What you do says a lot and kids are going to follow your lead. So keep a variety of healthy choices available for your children and get them involved!

Baby-Led Weaning {Ditching the Purees}

Miss M has been interested in our food since she was about 4 1/2 months old. I knew she was ready for solids when she started lurching for our spoons and plates and trying to snag what we were eating. So I started her on purees and she seemed to be into it. But she never seemed to be interested after taking about a tablespoon of food. She was much more into gnawing on the spoon. So I started researching and asking around and found the answer I was looking for. Baby-led weaning.

I put away the purees I made and wiped off the food processor. M’s first real experience with baby-led weaning  was with a food she was used to… apples. I just sauteed them up so they were soft and diced them up. I don’t think I made the pieces big enough so I stopped after a few tastes. Here are a few pictures from her experience 🙂

She did really well picking up the pieces with her fingers so I gave her a few puffs to practice with. Then I started thinking of what I was going to serve for dinner. And I figured carrots would be good to practice with as well. I made sure to keep them in stick form so she could grab onto them and gnaw little pieces off. They were a hit! She loved it and the mess she left proved that she had a great time as well.

Since that first day we’ve offered her a little of whatever we’re having at each meal. Sometimes she just plays with the food and other times she eats a bit. She’s really good at chewing with her gums! Definitely surprised me with how well her gums work to chew.

And she’s doing great with her sippy too. She still uses it mostly as a teether but she does get water out of it every once in a while. Friday night we had pizza so I made her a deconstructed pizza plate of sorts. She got to taste olives, a bit of mozzarella, some steamed broccoli and pizza crust. She looked like she thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the family meal. I wasn’t too sure about the cheese since she seems a bit young to have it but we’ve had no problems so far.

I really think this is not going to be easier for us in general but it’s less stressful, in my opinion. I never worried about how much E was eating when he was on purees but I did start to worry when he started eating table food since I didn’t think he was getting enough. Now I know it’s all just practice at this point. Her main nutrition still comes from my breastmilk and she’s getting really good at playing with her food 🙂

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