Food Fight: Feeding a Picky Toddler

In the last few months, Annabel has become such a picky eater. I can’t understand what happened to my baby who would eat all vegetables and liked them all just as much as fruit. Since that time, she has given up all veggies besides carrots and sweet potatoes. It’s a stressful thing, something that I’m constantly second-guessing myself about and one that I have so much to say about. But for now, I’m just going to write about the things I’m doing to try to make sure that what few items Annabel actually eats are healthy. And how I make my life a little simpler. Maybe someone out there can benefit and perhaps share their own tips and ideas.

There are a few things that Annabel will reliably eat.

1. Yogurt

I hate how pretty much all yogurt is loaded with sugar, so I just buy the plain stuff with one ingredient: cultured milk. Because that’s not too tasty on its own, ever month or so, I buy a bunch of fresh berries, chop them all up very finely with just a touch of sugar and put them in little containers:

Then I freeze these containers

and each school night drop one down to the refrigerator. That way, the next morning, it has thawed and I can just add a couple spoonfuls of yogurt and Annabel has a portable and ready-to-eat breakfast for school. On the days we’re at home, I usually make her some oatmeal for breakfast.

2. Carrots and sweet potatoes

I think that because these have a hint of sweetness, Annabel will accept them. So most weeks I steam up some carrots and either roast or steam some sweet potatoes so that I have some on hand throughout the week to add to her lunches/dinners.

3. Homemade muffins

For whatever reason, Annabel will almost always eat my zucchini muffins. I’ve switched up the recipe a little bit, eliminating the oil completely (subbing applesauce and yogurt) and adding some ground flax seeds and carrots. I love that she loves these because I feel so good about her eating them! So every Sunday (while she’s napping) I cook up a batch to have for the week. I might start making more to freeze so that I don’t have to do this chore every week.

4. Cottage cheese

I usually buy individual containers of this to always have on hand so that she can take them to school for lunch or eat at home with snack/dinner.

5.  Fruit

I have not met a fruit that Annabel doesn’t love! So we always have some mixture of grapes, cantaloupe, apples, bananas, oranges, and pears on hand at all times.

6. Homemade granola bars

She loves these! I usually just make enough for myself and Nathan (while I’m making her muffins), but she almost always ends up eating some of mine, which I’m totally fine with since they’re full of protein and good fats.

In addition to what she usually eats reliably, I’m constantly trying new things and trying to make homemade versions of things I think she might like. Did you know you can make your own crackers?! It’s true. I made some homemade “Cheez-Its” recently and they turned out surprisingly well.

Immediately once I had them out of the oven, she wanted to eat them and couldn’t get enough.

The next day? Wouldn’t touch them. I tried everyday for a few days and she pretty much always turned her nose up at them, so I ate almost all of them myself. When there were just a few left, I tried again, and lo and behold, she ate them all. I can’t figure this kid out!

Since she won’t ever touch meat, I’ve been trying to get her some protein from other sources. Today I remembered a post I had seen on the Daily Garnish a long time ago with a recipe for energy bites and decided to give it a go. I didn’t look up the recipe again and was strictly going off of memory (which obviously isn’t that great!) and my own measurements, but I think they turned out great! The beauty of this recipe is that it’s so customizable. I went back  and saw that I didn’t follow it exactly, but it still worked and you can use whichever dried fruit and seeds you like! I ground up some oatmeal and sunflower seeds, added ground flax seeds and mixed with peanut butter, dried cranberries and dried figs. Then I rolled them in unsweetened coconut flakes and served to Annabel. To my utter shock and pleasure, she scarfed them down!

This was a super easy and fast recipe, so I totally recommend it for yourself or your little one as a little snack bite. Annabel is a tiny little peanut, so I’ll take all of the (good) fat, like nuts and coconuts that she’ll eat! Oh, just be sure to refrigerate them!

Next up I think I’m going to try homemade fig newtons (more for myself than Annabel, hehe) that I found a recipe for on Weelicious. Love that site!

So that’s where we are with the never-ending food dilemma in our house. The theme seems to be that if it’s not sweet, Annabel won’t eat it, but I know she can’t just eat fruit, yogurt, muffins and carrots all the time, so I need some help!

Do you have a picky eater? How do you handle it? Our doctor has said that we just have to give her some tough love where we serve dinner (whatever we are eating) and if she doesn’t eat it, too bad. She’ll learn to eat what’s offered. It is exceedingly difficult to stick with this when a couple of hours later she’s crying and pointing to a banana. A banana, people! I’m supposed to deny her a banana?!

I’d love to hear your thoughts!