An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Infant And Toddler Nutrition

Monday, October 1, 2018

Infant And Toddler Nutrition

Starting solids is intimidating for parents, and keeping your child eating healthy foods throughout toddler-hood and into childhood can be extremely challenging! Here's what I've learned along the way


This post is sponsored by Happy Family Brands but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

I've had several posts throughout the years on how picky of an eater Henry, my oldest, was - still is, sometimes. But I'll tell you what, he turned four in May and it's like we've turned that proverbial corner! He'll now at least TRY everything I make for supper, which is the meal we typically branch out on and try new foods. The road definitely wasn't easy. I was left frustrated at most meals for the longest time - even outright angry when I went out of my way to make him something he'd like and he decided not to eat it! Real anger, y'all. So today I wanted to share some of my best tips for managing picky eaters, share encouragement to other parents dealing with the same thing, and provide an infant and toddler nutrition resource I wish I had known about in my angry and tearful moments with Henry!

Moody faces from my picky eater... Right about the time he became one!

We didn't start Henry on solids until 6 months, per the recommendation of his pediatrician. She recommended we start with orange foods, like sweet potatoes and carrots because they were most likely to be liked by babies but still veggies; then move on to green foods like peas and green beans. She cautioned us not to start with fruits or fruit blends so that Henry didn't develop a sweet tooth and would only eat sweetened things. And she told us to completely avoid rice cereal because it's worthless nutrition-wise. I absolutely loved that pediatrician! I was a clueless first time mom and was looking for all the help I could get, and appreciated the clear-cut way she laid it out for me. I followed her method with Otto too, and will likely use it again (plus some baby-led weaning) with the twins. 

In the beginning, Henry was a champ! He liked everything I offered him. Sweet potatoes, carrots, peas. Later on, he liked mushed up pasta and hummus and anything with fruit in it. I thought, "Haha! See? Picky eaters are definitely MADE, not BORN. I have successfully cultivated a great eater. Go me!" Welp, jokes on me, because by the age of about 14-15 months, as Henry started to eat independently and was off pureed food I spoon fed him, the game changed in a big way. 

That's when Henry decided he didn't like most food. He simply refused to it it. For two weeks, two whole weeks, he refused to eat anything besides blueberries and whole milk. Those were some disgusting diapers, my friends! Right as I was about to call his pedi to see if this would damage him in anyway, he decided that yogurt, cheese and crackers were acceptable again. Then different berries were added back into the "I guess I'll eat it" mix. And for the next two years straight, this child lived off of dairy, berries, whole wheat crackers, fish and fruit. I joked with my friends, "He's my self-imposed vegetarian child!" Honest to goodness, we had a list of about 15 items total that he'd allow past his discerning lips.

My picky eater on his 2nd birthday, when he spit out the special meal I made for him. Pretty sure I cried in my bathroom! 

One of the times I got the most upset was his second birthday. He had tried some of my vegetarian lasagna several times before and always ate it, so I thought, aaaha! I'll make him a big pan of veggie lasagna for his birthday dinner. I made everything from scratch, and even hid a few extra veggies in it. We all sat down for supper and he refused to even touch it! My husband made him take a bite and he spit it out! After all that work, going out of my way to make something I knew he'd like, changing my recipe to omit the meat I knew he wouldn't like, he spit it out. I was so mad! And frankly, my feelings were hurt.

Fast forward to the age of four, and he'll now try a bite of anything I'll cook. Occasionally, he'll eat meat! He'll eat the organic hot dogs his brother scarfs down. Chicken is a hit, as are eggs and other new protein sources. While he often won't eat much of it or won't make a whole meal of it, he'll try it, and that's all I ask. Keep trying new foods to see what you like!

My formerly super picky eater, now four years old. Still loves his yogurt bite snacks!
My second son and least picky eater aka my sanity saver at meal times. Still loves Happy Baby yogurt snacks!

One of the biggest tips I have for parents of picky eaters is to NOT FORCE the child to eat something. We have no "clean plate rules" in our home. If I make something new, all I ask if that my kids try a bite. Otto is funny because he'll throw the biggest stink about having to try a bite, then 10 minutes later his plate is clean. Henry will sigh, try a bite, sometimes eat a few more, and then be done. Our rule is if you try it and don't like it, you don't have to finish it. If you try it and don't like it, you can have a piece of cheese for supper, that you get yourself from the fridge. But I won't make my kids a whole different meal and their only other option besides what I fix is a piece of cheese. This way nobody "starves" but they also know there isn't something else waiting for them, and the expectation is that they eat what was made for supper. 

One of the lifesavers we've bought since Henry was in his super picky stage is Happy Family Organics baby and toddler food and snacks. The creamies and yogurt bites remain both the boys' favorite snacks. I mean, their faces light up when I pull them out of the cupboard! Yes, they're designed for babies but my kids love them so much, and I love what's in them so much, I continue to buy them to put in their school lunches or use for after school snacks.


What's even cooler than the organic fruits and veggies in these snacks? Happy Family Organics has a live chat service on their website to help parents out with infant and toddler nutrition questions! Not sure if what your child is doing is "normal"? Wondering if eating only blueberries and milk will cause developmental delays? Head to their website and chat with their trained staff! The live chat service allows parents to receive free advice on any feeding questions they may haveThe Happy Mama Mentors are available 8am–8pm (EST) Mon-Fri & 8am–4pm (EST) Sat-Sun. Happy Family’s team of experts, the Happy Mama Mentors, are all registered dietitians, lactation specialists and are certified in infant and maternal nutrition. If you don't have a pediatrician like mine who laid out the groundwork for introducing solids or you're fighting back tears and anger like I was with an insanely picky eater, go to their site and get some tips to help you navigate your infant and toddler nutrition questions.

1 comment:

  1. I’m going through a tough time with my little guy now. He ate any and all pouch foods. Now that he eats solids...picky, picky, picky. He just turned 2. I get so frustrated...and he won’t eat hardly anything. Milk, Naked juice and chicken nuggets...that’s about all he’ll eat. Everything else gets spit out. I am going to check out this site. I’m on the verge of a breakdown!

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