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Picky Eater? Healthy Snacks for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Bundoo Pediatric Nutritionist
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Picky Eater? Healthy Snacks for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Let’s discuss Picky Eaters, and more specifically, how you can plan healthy snacks for your toddler or preschooler, even if he’s predictably (or unpredictably) picky! Let’s hear about your picky eater–is he stuck on a few foods? Dropping the tried and true foods you’ve come to count on? Or, just testing your creativity (and patience!)? Join in to learn more, and get your questions answered by me, while getting some insight from others in this community!

Comments

  1. Great topic! I would love a short list of healthy snacks that can be prepped and ready each weekend for the week ahead!

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    1. Sara,
      A homemade gorp (cereal, dried fruit, nuts (if tolerated) and pretzels) is a good option to package ahead of time, as well as mini muffins, cheese sticks, chopped fruit, blanched veggies with dips like hummus or low fat Ranch, peanut butter and whole grain cracker sandwiches, and frozen yogurt sticks are all good options you can set aside on the weekend for the week ahead.

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  2. My 2yrs old (25 months ) boy refuses to try fresh fruit. It has to be smashed or in puree. He is good eating cooked veggies. I need some tips on how to make him at least try to taste fruit without being in puree form. Thanks!!

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    1. Hi Diana,
      Does your son exhibit any discomfort with touching fruit? sometimes chilren find fruit too “wet,” and it’s a sensory turn-off. Meanwhile, you can finely chop fruit, or try using a fruit leather, so he can suck and chew on it. Of course, you have the smoothie option and working fruit into baked goods like breads and muffins, too.

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      1. Thank you for the advice. I think you are right. It’s a sensory thing. He does seem uncomfortable touching fruit.

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  3. One of the things that I want everyone to know is that snacks can be your best friend if you have a picky eater! Why? Because snacks give you the opportunity to focus on those food groups your child might be missing out on at mealtime, or the ability to target nutrients, like calcium or iron, that your child shies away from at typical meals. Use snacks strategically to bump up the nutrition in your child’s diet.

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  4. My 3yo son will love a food one day and refuse to eat it the next (or ever again). Is it just a phase? He asked for a banana yesterday, but I had stopped buying them because he refused to eat them. So he had a complete meltdown over not having a banana. So I bought bananas, he ate one yesterday, and today refuses to even look at them! Same with strawberries and blueberries. Is this picky eating or something else?

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    1. Welcome to picky eating! Those little ones will keep you on your toes (and make you feel like you can never get things right!). Yes, based on age and behavior, I would say you are in the midst of picky eating, Roxanne. In the banana incident, I would “make a list” for the grocery store and have him draw a banana and assure him you will get them at the store. If you can take him to the store with you, have him pick a banana out, and bring it home and see if he’s game for snack time. If not, no biggie, but perhaps buy more fruit variety in smaller quantities so you have some different things on hand. If you don’t have something he wants, reassure him you’ll put it on the list (or he can) and will get it next time you go to the store.

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      1. Great idea to involve him in the planning process! I’ll give it a try!

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  5. My two year old son is a very picky eater. He loves pasta and soup but he really loves his milk and he fills up on it. Any suggestions for getting him to eat more of a variety and more food in general?

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    1. First, I would try to corral his milk intake–for his age, about 16 ounces per day is recommended, precisely for the reason that little ones can fill up on it and crowd out other nutrients, like iron. Best way to do this is to just serve milk with meals, and use water in between–this helps build up an appetite for food. Be sure he’s on a meal and snack schedule that occurs about every 3 hours–again, this helps build an appetite. If he’s eating more frequently, this could interfere with his hunger and end up decreasing his food amounts. As a two year old, you’re still in the introduce everything mode, so make sure to bring new foods to mealtime every day. To avoid turning him off, offer the new food with a familiar food (security with familiar food) and let him explore it.

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      1. Words to live by with a toddler! Thanks Jill!

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  6. My kindergartener begs me for food I am not willing to buy, like Lunchables, Uncrustables, processed foods. How do you communicate why you don’t think foods are good choices without slamming her friends who bring those foods to school?

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    1. Molly,
      Believe it or not, my own kids used to ask me for stuff that I didn’t want to buy them. For the lunch-ables, I let them try one, and then I made our own–cut up deli meat and cheese, crackers. I never wanted to have them feel left out of what everyone else was doing, but I also wanted to make sure we did things the “castle way” which was –our way and healthy for our family. You can always remind you children that every family does things differently and you do things your way! I think kids find comfort in knowing that there’s a system they can rely on.

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      1. Thanks for the tip! I tried the DIY lunchable and she wanted the yellow package. 😉 But reinforcing the system and the unique family values is a great angle. Thanks!

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      2. I love this tip! I think buying a few cute Bento boxes can make home made lunch-ables seem even more interesting!

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