mealtime with your toddler
I can't believe it was over a year ago that I did my 'cooking for your baby' series. How time flies! Well I thought it was about time I did an updated version.
Mealtime with a baby is so very different to mealtime with a toddler. On the one hand it's much easier as you can usually combine family meals and eat together. On the other hand, some meals can be challenging as these mini-humans have developed food preferences where they flat out refuse certain foods. So.. I thought I would share some of the things I've learnt which have helped Lily progress into a really great eater. Again, in no way am I claiming to be an expert in children's nutrition but these are things I've found work for me.
Get yourself a few great baby/kids cookbooks. Sometimes I find it hard to not return to the classics (pasta, rice, omelette etc) and need a little inspiration. Enter cookbooks. Aside from the ones I mentioned in my last series, a new book we got this year is Leah Garrard-Cole's 'It All Begins with food'. Such a great book from first foods to family favourites.
Get equipped. Toddlers require different eating utensils compared to babies. We upgraded Lily to a portioned plate (from SkipHop) which she's been loving. She can see all her food in one place and pick and choose what she wants. We also got her some new forks and spoons from Beaba which are super easy to hold and look minimal but cute. These Storage containers from Beaba are perfect when eating outside the home and clip together making things super organised in the fridge/backpack.
Big girl booster. A few months back Lily started refusing to sit her high-chair. She's quite the independent lady and wants to everything by herself. We ditched the high-chair and upgraded to the Bumbo booster seat from Oyaco. It's so easy to install, you just place it on a regular dining chair and tighten the straps. It's easy to clean with a simple wipe down and is great as it's light-weight for travel. Lily loves it for mealtime, colouring in time or just watching us cook.
No day is the same. What I've learnt from toddlers is that food preferences can change on a daily basis. One day Lily loves avacado, the next week she can't stand it. What do I do? Just go with the flow and try integrating that food back in at a later date.
Never take it personally. I've made many a meal that have ended up on my own plate. That's the risk you take with making something new, they just might not like it or it may take a few times before they warm up to it. Don't take it personally - which can be hard to do when you've been slaving in the kitchen for a few hours I know!
Have fun with it. I always try to make a bit of a game or sing a song around dinner time. It's supposed to be enjoyable, so have a good time!
Texture & presentation. One of the biggest learnings from the last year of toddler eating has been that texture & presentation is everything. Preparing a colourful plate (even if it's as simple as cutting some cherry tomatoes and cucumbers) makes a big difference. We try to experiment with texture and allow Lily to have a little fun with her food e.g. making a little mayonnaise dip for her chicken schnitzel or giving her a pappadum from our own Indian dinner. The more she sees that she's eating the same food as us - the better!
If you'd like me to dig into a full blog post on what kinds of recipes we cook and food we prepare - let me know with a DM or comment below.