As I've mentioned before here on the blog I've long been a big fan of Organix foods, so today I'm delighted to share some tips for encouraging toddlers to eat healthy foods in conjunction with the new toddler #LoveGoodFood campaign recently launched by Organix.
The toddler years are a key time to influence diets and a time when it is possible to establish lifelong healthy eating habits and a love of food. Unfortunately, it's often the case that just when you think you know what your toddler likes to eat and you are confident that they are eating a healthy, balanced diet, their growing independence means that they'll keep us on our toes by suddenly refusing to eat at mealtimes or becoming fussy about food that they previously enjoyed.
Children’s food expert Lucy Thomas, who runs fun workshops encouraging children to love fruit and vegetables has these great tips to help encourage toddlers to enjoy fruit and veg:
- Encourage a wider interest in food, without asking them to eat or taste anything. Get them to smell, kiss, lick or crunch. You can show your child how to smell strawberries and lick one to feel the bumpiness of the seeds on the outside.
- Give them lots of opportunities to touch and handle fresh fruit and vegetables, whether out shopping, at home cooking or even growing food. This will help them be more relaxed and interested in food.
- Get a little messy - let your little one squash a tomato or squeeze an orange while you are cooking. If they feel comfortable handling a food they are more likely to want to eat it.
- Let your child explore different textures of food by juicing, blending, grating or mashing foods with your help.
- Explore vegetables raw as well as cooked, it’s a great way to overcome a dislike of a vegetable. For example, small crunchy florets of cauliflower for dipping are delicious - and taste very different to cooked cauliflower.
Another way to encourage healthy eating and trying new foods is to present food in new and exciting ways, making mealtimes fun rather than a battle. Whilst I do serve up 'normal' family meals most of the time, my children really love it when I make a fun meal for them, and they are much more likely to eat more of it when healthy food is presented in a fun way.
Here are my tips for making healthy food fun for toddlers:
- Serve up food in a muffin tin - it's more fun than a plate and helps with portion control too. Children love to graze and offering a good selection of food means that they're more likely to try a few different things. You can find lots of fun muffin tin meal ideas here, my favourite is the rainbow tasting plate pictured below!
- Cut foods into bite sized pieces - children can feel overwhelmed by a large sandwich for example and are much more likely to pick up and eat mini ones.
- Create some simple food art - it's easy to do and can make a meal really fun! Check out these simple step-by-step food art plates for inspiration or let loose your imagination!
- Give things fun names - I served this kiwi fruit cut with a zig-zag pattern and called it a dinoaur egg - I've never seen a kiwi vanish so fast! Slices of carrots can become gold coins or wheels, bread sticks wands or swords - whatever your toddler is into I'm sure you can find a food to match.
- Serve foods up as mini kebabs, from tortilla spirals to rainbow fruit kebabs, everything tastes better on a stick!
- Hide fruit and vegetables in frozen treats - my toddler loves his ice lollies, and you can even sneak in some healthy vegetables if you make them at home! Try these frozen fruity yoghurt bites or frosty banana bites as a healthy snack or dessert.
As part of their #LoveGoodFood Campaign, Organix have put together a fantastic set of resources to help steer parents through the minefield of feeding toddlers.
Firstly they've launching the Little Book of Good Food – Toddlers & Families. It’s packed with advice and tips for parents on providing a healthy diet for little ones as they continue their exciting journey with food through the early years and beyond. You can download your free copy here: www.organix.com/lovegoodfood.
Organix is also launching a series of Love Good Food short videos, with Lucy and a group of toddlers exploring, enjoying and sharing the wonderful world of fruit and vegetables, from broccoli to bananas, through play, rhymes, song and storytelling. You can watch them over on the Organix YouTube Channel here.
For lots more advice on toddler foods and tasty, healthy recipes for all the family you can also visit www.organix.com.
Disclosure: This blog post was written in conjunction with the Organix #LoveGoodFood campaign. I was compensated for my time, however all opinions expressed in this post are my own.