Feeding a toddler is one of the more frustrating things I’ve experienced of late. Before having my son I had ALL sorts of ideas on how I would feed him. I read book after book. I made promise (to myself) after promise. But, as with most of my prior ideas about parenting, out the window those rules went. I still adhere to some, others bent a little, and some just broke.
I’ve talked a little about my own childhood food relationship and how that shaped me, and I’ve said a few things about what I’d like to teach my own child about food. What I haven’t shared is what we are ACTUALLY doing with food and our toddler. It isn’t rocket science, though it feels like it sometimes. And, goodness knows that not everyone agrees with what we do and how we do it. I’m open to suggestions, but he is still my son and I am doing what I really think is best for him and us.
My Toddler’s Diet at 23 Months:
This is an approximation of my kiddo’s diet at 23 months. It changes from day to day with his likes/dislikes. I can usually tell when he is feeling bad or is about to have a growth spurt by his disinterest in food and extra interest in milk. He drinks more milk than many kids his age.
Our (Current) Toddler Food Rules
- (Almost) Everything in moderation
- Limit sugar to one sweetened item a day (fruit doesn’t count)
- NO artificial sweeteners
- NO caffeine (other than chocolate, but that fits in the limited sweets.)
- As much veggies as he wants. Almost as much fruit— kid will make himself sick if he really gets as much fruit as he wants.
- Juice is rarely given.
A lot of this is just how we eat… so, it is easy to follow. My son really doesn’t care for a lot of beverages besides milk and sometimes water. He does love a glass of spicy V8 though! So, if he doesn’t seem like he is getting enough veggies I will let him have a glass of V8. He does typically get a sweet treat daily. We try to limit the amount. But, seriously, his ice cream smile is totally worth it.
My Toddler’s Approximate Day to Day Menu:
Breakfast: Kiddo usually wakes around 8-9 in the morning (don’t get all jealous for the late sleeper… sleep is a HUGE issue for us and he still doesn’t sleep through the night). As soon as he wakes he drinks a sippy cup (4 oz) of milk and eats 1 banana. Then we typically serve scrambled eggs and toast. Lately though he hasn’t really wanted eggs and is going for yogurt and berries and/or granola instead.
Snack: He has a milk between breakfast and lunch. Sometimes he will also eat an apple or a few raw veggies.
Lunch: Lunch is hard. This is the meal that he is so often throwing fits about. We’ve tried everything from leftovers, to sandwiches, to junk food, etc. Sometimes he eats eat and other times he refuses. Some things that we can usually get him to eat include: pasta, ham, veggies, and cheddar.
Snack: Yet another milk—sometimes two. Snacks at this time typically include almonds or any of lunch that he didn’t eat.
Dinner: Whatever we are eating. This usually works out fine. He surprises us often on what (and how much) of what he eats. But, recently, he has been refusing all but one or two items. If he eats REALLY well then we will give him a treat if we are having one. He will sometimes get a tablespoon or so of ice cream.
Bedtime: Another milk—or two… and then usually 2 overnight.
We’ve tried to restrict his milk to once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening. It results in a LOT of crying (from everyone) and still no eating. We’ve talked to his pediatrician about this and she thinks, from his behavior when he receives the milk and from his growth, that is is actually still needing the milk. The doctor’s office doesn’t seemed fussed about his diet… but, boy is it difficult!
Our Toddler’s Food Likes and Dislikes
Foods X LOVES: pickles, spicy V8, pasta (but, not filled pastas), ham (but only by itself), cheddar (no other cheeses), raw veggies, pizza, salad with ranch, milk, chips, salsa, almonds, yogurt, berries, bananas, peaches, apples, cake (though he has only had a couple small slices in his lifetime… he loves it and asks for it constantly!) and ice cream. Kid loves him some ice cream.
Food X Dislikes: hot dogs, chicken nuggets, chicken, mac & cheese, bread (seriously), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches
Kid confounds me. By the by…the above ice cream cone was shared.
More Info about our Food Journey and Other Mom’s Journeys:
When you were a kid did you have foods you really loved and really hated? Does your kid have some strong likes and dislikes?