How to get a more decent diet in to my 2yo?(30 Posts)
My dd is 2.5 and I worry about her diet. She can be very fussy and I'm struggling to get much protein or veg in to her at the moment.
She tends to eat the same things over and over again, and can like something then suddenly refuse to eat it for weeks (yoghurts, I'm looking at you!). I know this can be normal toddler behaviour but I'd really like to try and implement a more balanced diet for her.
An example of what she eats is - weetabix or toast for breakfast, with a piece of fruit.
Lunch is usually a peanut butter or humous sandwich, a few crisps (those organix puffy ones), cherry tomatoes and sometimes a yoghurt but she has recently refused to eat them. Worrying as she won't drink milk or eat cheese so doesn't have any other dairy products.
Dinner is either fried rice (rice, veg and egg fried in a pan with some garlic, ginger and five spice), pasta with chorizo and pesto, Chinese noodles (made in a similar way to the fried rice), pitta bread pizza. She won't eat anything else
She doesn't seem to like meat unless it's a sausage, or chicken nuggets, or sliced chorizo which are all high in salt. I've tried making my own chicken nuggets with chicken breast but she won't eat it. She won't eat potatoes full stop. She won't eat cheese (apart from a token amount on top of pitta bread pizza) or anything creamy. The only raw veg she will eat is cherry tomatoes. She won't eat beans or spaghetti.
I feel so bad for giving her the same meals all the time. DP & I eat quite a varied diet and always encourage her to try new things, and she does actually try them but 99% of the time declares it to be 'yakky'
Does anyone have any miraculous ideas of new things to try? I don't have a huge amount of spare time so anything quick to make would be great. I am fed up of making food to only throw it away because she won't eat it, as I meal plan every week to keep costs down and can't afford to spend extra money on things that are going to be wasted.
My 3 old is similar it's so frustrating. We have recently got him to eat broccoli by telling him they are mini trees and dinosaurs eat them. We then all pretend to be dinosaurs whilst eating the brocolli. Similarly he has been tempted to eat raw carrot and pepper sticks by making pictures out of them on his plate. Basically making food as fun as possible seems to help (a little- if he is in the right mood to play along).
I've tried the tree thing! She was not impressed. She will eat raw pepper very occasionally but hates carrot sticks even though she likes cooked carrot. I think they are a bit too crunchy for her liking
I got so stressed (and still am a bit) thinking DS would never eat a varied healthy diet. People told me it was a phase and I didn't believe them. BUT I'm starting to see they were right. We keep offering him the fruit/ veg whatever in different ways and every so often he does try and like it.
I think persistent offering of different things served in a variety of ways is key. Doesn't help with your (or my) shopping bill though
A few ideas which you may or may not have tried.....
Yoghurt sundaes - try plain Greek yoghurt and get her to add in berries and some granola. You could even add a berry purée swirl. Might make it more interesting for her.
Her dinners seem quite adventurous despite being limited. I'd just shoe horn as much veg into the egg fried rice and noodles as possible. Could you sneak cheese into the pesto dish? If she likes egg have you tried omelette?
It is a stage, so I would just keep ploughing on. I plan my meals out each week and deliberately try her on one or two dishes that I know she will refuse. I figure if she eats 5 out of 7 dinners a week then that's ok. My DD is not a fan of stir fry, but I keep giving it and the other week she ate it all, this week she's back to hating it again so it's not consistent. So I would try the chicken nuggets and keep trying them. I know it is frustrating and demoralising but try not to take it personally.
Salad (raw veg) and potatoes were some of the last things mine would eat.
"Obvious" kids goods I'm sure you've tried, but not mentioned - eggs, cucumber, fish fingers. Has she tried plain boiled pasta?
Can you dilute the sausage / chorizo by putting it diced into the rice or noodles?
I think if your making and eating a wide variety. And offering her different stuff, that's probably as good as it gets. Keep going.
Thanks everyone, some helpful tips here. It's a bloody annoying phase she's going through!
Tried cheese in the pasta. Refused to eat it even though it was super mild. No idea how she even noticed it was there. Also she used to love omelettes as a baby but not any more. She doesn't like fish fingers (weird child) but will occasionally eat smoked salmon cooked in her pasta or noodles.
It's weird as the things she does eat are quite strong flavours so I don't get what she doesn't like about the other stuff. Not sure if it's the texture or something? I used to hate potatoes and dairy as a child (only just started eating them in my twenties) so I fear she's going to be the same as me. She doesn't even like sandwiches apart from humous or peanut butter which makes eating out at lunch time a pain. You can't just grab a sandwich or something!
Currently cooking pasta and pesto for the billionth time...
Oh she doesn't like cucumber either which I also find strange. All the usual foods you would associate with a toddler seem to be a no-go. She used to love baked beans with scrambled egg but won't eat it now
Have you tried pancakes/crepes? I used to give them to my dd a lot because it was the only way to get her to eat eggs.
Yes she doesn't like pancakes gutted as it would be an excuse for me to eat them too!
I wouldn't get too concerned re raw veg if you can get her to eat cooked. Does she have milk on her weetabix?
Have you tried threading chicken and veg on skewers? I know it sounds crazy but the novelty of it being on a stick seems to help. If she will eat housmous can you sneak anything into that? I'm thinking mixing in cheese grated on the finest plane of a grater.
Could you try her on something like a mushroom or bean pate? Kind of peanut butter/housmous texture?
Was going to add, will she eat ice cream/ lollies? If so you could offer frozen yoghurt or milk based lollies?
Mine will only really eat meat that is stewed. His favourite stew is butter bean, sausage, pork belly, and chorizo. He sometimes inadvertently eats the carrot, onion and celery that are also in there. He also loves chickpeas in a stew.
Yogurt and fruit smoothies frozen in to ice lollies? Especially in this weather!
Puréed soft fruits mixed in with carbonated water to make a strawberry/ raspberry lemonade?
Pulses are quite high in protein, if she'll eat fried rice you could try her on daal?
Tofu is a good non-dairy source of calcium, but God knows how you get that in a child!
What she does eat is actually pretty good!
My DD prefers strong flavours too. Peppers, chilli, casseroles, olives, spices, various pasta etc. She won't eat rice, egg, plain potato or chicken. Fairly safe almost bland tasting food! I don't get it. We've made a bit of progress with potato but she doesn't love it. The only fish we've had any joy with is tinned tuna!
I have a similar 5yo DS. He has ASD and I think texture, rather than strong flavours, are an issue for him.
He will eat grilled lamb chop, plain roasted meats, steak burgers (and meat balls). Used to eat sausage but has gone off them recently. Sometimes he eats curry with rice, or fish and veg with rice, sometimes he eats chips. He loves tomato ketchup.
Won't eat anything with crumbs on (ie fish fingers), or potato, hates cake (unless chocolate brownie type of cake). Eats almost no fresh fruit and veg (doesn't like raw wet things).
It's frustrating but I just try to get the best quality of whatever it is he eats (burgers, mince and other meats with no additives, good quality), I make meatballs for him with grated veg in, and he will eat a nice Raghu sauce with meatballs so that's more veg too.
Fruit and is offered daily, but he rarely takes more than a single lick or bite. He will eat some dried fruit, so I make my own Apple crisps for him.
I always put a few (single teaspoon full) peas or sweetcorn on his plate, some days he will eat a single pea and I rejoice!
Sometimes he will eat cheese or a plain yogurt.
I think it's important to keep offering a variety of things that are a bit of a challenge to them on the plate alongside the things they like. without making a big fuss about it. Calm encouragement then ignore if they don't eat it. One day they might take a bite!
I can thoroughly recommend a short book called Getting the Little Blighters To Eat. My DD is an extremely picky eater and we've been to a feeding clinic with her. They said that the tips I'd read in this book were spot-on and to persevere.
It really is about making food fun but with no pressure to eat, act as though you don't care. Fake doing that if you have to, I do! Also just keep offering a really wide variety of foods, they can't choose to try something if it isn't offered.
Oh and get her involved in shopping and cooking, it really helps.
I freeze yoghurt/ice lolly type things for her already. I made banana and milk ones this weekend which she seemed to like
I make dhal but she doesn't like it, although I've not tried her with it for a while so I'm going to try it again (plus it's incredibly cheap to make.)
I've just remembered that she does like pulled pork but it's not the most convenient of foods to make. But the whole idea of stews might work as the meat might be the same sort of consistency as the pulled pork we make in the slow cooker. Although we don't eat beef at all, or pork very often. I don't think I've ever made a stew at all! We never eat foods like stews, shepherds pie etc.
I don't eat mince but it might be worth trying her with some in a bolognese sauce or chilli (I usually make bean chilli as we eat a lot of veggie meals). I could pack that with veg too.
Getting lots of ideas so thank you very much reading back at what I've written it does sound like she eats quite well, especially compared to others, but there's definitely room for improvement. I can see where I can try and sneak extra bits in though.
with the dairy do you think she might have some kind of intolerence? i have heard of children avoiding foods tjat don't agree with them. perhaps try a non dairy milk?
Here's one tip I have that has worked for a couple of my other friends' kids:
I soak blueberries in freshly boiled water in a bowl for exactly one minute, no more, no less (I even set the oven timer to minute as I pour the water from the kettle); once the minute is up, quickly drain the hot water (be careful) and rinse the hot blueberries under cold water and serve as a snack.
They will literally melt in the mouth and hopefully your DD will love eating blueberries this way as a healthy snack!
Would she eat other chickpea based things? Like falafel or chickpea curry. You can also roast them as snacks.
Sausage rolls? Admittedly not that healthy but gives you another option if eating out.
Quiche as another dairy option?
Bean based dips?
Fajitas maybe? Mix of veg and then refried beans for protein?
What cheeses has she tried? Like others have said she seems to like strong flavours so might like blue/feta/halloumi.
More suggestions! Thank you so much.
She loves all fruit so blueberries not a problem as they are. She would eat a whole punnet if I let her!
I've tried her with lots of different cheeses. DP loves cheese so we always have a variety in but she just hates it. She's never had any problems with dairy so I don't think it's an intolerance. She drank some milk this morning for the first time in months.
I've tried her with falafel but she's not keen. She did used to eat a chickpea curry I make but then went off it but I can try it again. I've tried roasting them too but no luck. She did eat a bit of a three bean salad we had on a picnic at the weekend, so something like that might work if I can work out how to make it myself.
She doesn't like anything in a wrap at home although she will sometimes eat a burrito from a place in town if we go for lunch. It's hit and miss though.
Not tried quiche so I'll give it a go but I have a feeling she won't like the texture of it. It's worth a try though.
She won't eat sausage rolls! Highly annoying as there's not much choice apart from sandwiches or a sausage roll/pasty thing if you need to grab something on the go.
My son (the stew/bean eater above) is also hard to feed on the go or in large groups, in part because he won't concentrate on his food, and partly because we can't allow him the usual 45 min dinner time! It doesn't seem to matter too much, some days he exists on thin air, the next day he will exceed whatever I have cooked. Obviously I never know in advance so always cook the wrong amount! I think it's healthy to develop a variable appetite.
Another idea is a lamb or chicken tagine with chickpeas, or an Irish lamb stew.
I don't reckon the dairy thing matters - there's calcium in houmous I think (you could put extra tahini in) and you could either supplement vitamin D or make sure she gets sun every day.
He doesn't eat potatoes etc either - I wonder if their metabolism is just very efficient, he always seems to have plenty of energy even on days when he has only eaten three breadsticks!
My 2-year old is much more likely to try something if it's not on a plate. So if I'm cooking & he's playing in the kitchen, I say 'ooh try this!' and hold out a small bit of something & he'll usually eat it. Also both he & my 4 yr old DD eat a lot more if their food is served buffet-style, ie they help themselves from bowls in the middle of the table.
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