Toddler Eating – Are you on the right track?

A week ago, I held one of my all day Mommy Chef Tastes for Toddler cooking classes and something struck me (as it usually does) as I was speaking with the moms who attended the full day cook-a-thon class.

It struck me how high the expectations of what a toddler eats are.  Whether it from parents, doctors, grandparents or friends, I see many concerned and worried faces when we talk about toddler eating habits.

Some toddlers are really only thought of as toddlers because they’ve had their first birthday.  There’s no internal switch to say that they are ready for super chunky meals, or meals fit for the rest of the family.  A one-year-old predominantly eating puree isn’t uncommon.  Recently I’ve seen 15 to 18 month olds who are still eating smooth puree at the majority of their meals.

Parents who are concerned about choking (and some I’ve come across are nothing short of petrified), a slow progression onto lumps and bumps, finger foods and whole anything, seems to follow.

How can you get over the fear?  First, book yourself and spouse in for CPR and first aid training.  You’ve got to know what to do in the event of choking and any other emergency.  Second, take a deep breath and know that your toddler’s gums are strong, and try out some soft pieces of food.  Start with Nature’s Path Rice Puffs for instance, and see how they melt on your tongue.  I usually recommend these for nine month olds, but for really intimidated parents, they are the first step to feel more confident about their toddler managing pieces of food.  From there try steamed cauliflower, carrots and broccoli.  Even cubed and steamed beets are a firm favourite!

Toddlers learn fast how to feed themselves and embrace independence, whether you like it or not.  That’s when finger foods, patty or burger shaped foods come in handy.  In our recent class, we made bean burgers, fish cakes and quinoa patties.  All easy for little fingers to pick up.  In all the recipes there are a boatload of veggies, seeds and sneaky nutrients to keep a very busy toddler going.

No matter what stage you are at, slow moving or on the fast track, offering foods that pack a nutrient punch trumps what form it comes in.  I promise, your toddler will eventually eat at a table with a knife and fork and a plateful of food in front of them and eat.  Some sooner than others, but the day will come.  If not, I’ve got your back!

Need ideas? I’m doing a webinar for toddlers hosted by and sponsored by Cuisinart on May 25th at 1:30 pm (nap time!) so please join us.  Details here.

How did you handle your choking fear?

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