Making Kid Friendly Meals
By Sue Gilbert, MS Nutritionist
Toddlers and preschoolers can be picky eaters. With smaller appetites, they develop an inherent skepticism to any new foods. A reluctant appetite may need encouragement to ensure that your toddler gets the important nutrition needed to grow and develop. One way to encourage healthy eating is to make meals and snacks kid-friendly.
Here are 10 ideas to make meals kid friendly:
- Make portions small. For example, a two year old only needs 2 tablespoons of rice or vegetables to make a serving. One-quarter slice of bread is appropriate. One quarter to 1/3 cup of milk is realistic. Many companies make child size products like Earth's Best Sesame Street Organic Frozen Mini Waffles and Frozen Mini Cheese Ravioli. Putting too much on their plate can overwhelm their little appetites, resulting in no eating at all.
- Make it colorful. Little children like colorful food. Add some natural color to their plates by serving a variety of bright foods such as red tomatoes, green peas and red berries.
- Make bite-sized pieces. Cut food into small pieces to make it easier to pick up, easier to chew, and easier to eat.
- Keep dishes simple. Children prefer foods to be basic and identifiable. They are leery of mixed dishes and casseroles.
- Keep foods separate on the plate. For example, many children won't eat potatoes if they are touching carrots.
- Use kid-friendly utensils. Smaller plates, forks, spoons and cups make eating easier for toddlers and preschoolers.
- Make easy-to-eat foods. For example, ground meat is easier to chew than steak. Tender cooked carrots are easier to eat than hard crunchy carrots. Thick soups like Earth's Best Organic My First Soups is easier to keep on the spoon. And if you want to serve thin soup, serve it so they can drink from a cup.
- Serve foods close to room temperature. Hot foods create yet another obstacle and require patience. Just remove the obstacle.
- Make sure your child is seated comfortably. Make sure the height of the table allows them to comfortably rest their feet on something.
- Serve finger foods. Eating with utensils is still a challenge for the toddler.