Meal time is important, no matter your age, but it can be especially important (and daunting) for toddlers. We’ve all been there. Our little ones can be ravenous little things or ultra picky. And no matter how they’re feeling, it can be difficult to know that you’re giving them the most nutrient-dense, healthy food options.
The truth is… no matter what you see on Instagram or Pinterest… no mom is perfect. We are all doing our best to provide the healthiest, safest, happiest lives for our little ones and to set them up for future success.
There are so many awesome guidelines online specifically for toddler mealtime, like Stanford Children’s Health. We’ve decided to break down some of their tips and include plant-based options, tips, and tricks that your toddlers will love!
“Limit juice intake. Encourage whole fruit instead.”
When it comes to giving our toddlers fruit-based snacks, there are so many options! One way to encourage your toddler to eat whole fruits is to support their autonomy--show them a basket with all kinds of fruit options, or let them look in the fridge with your help. Let them choose: raspberries or grapes? Apples or oranges? When your toddler gets to be part of the decision making process, anything they choose will be instantly 10 times more delicious!
“Prevent choking by … [m]odifying high-risk foods ... [like cooking] carrots until soft.”
Baking veggies is a great way to make an easy meal in a pinch of time, giving you the comfort of knowing that you are modifying food to prevent choking along the way.
Take out a baking tray, line it with parchment paper, and add a handful of veggies. Some of our favorites are tomatoes, bite sized carrot chunks, and sweet potato. Then, drizzle with a little oil and pop into the oven! In 20 minutes or so, you’ll have a perfect meal that you and your toddler will enjoy. A win-win situation.
“Be flexible with food acceptance as toddlers are often reluctant to try new things. If your toddler refuses a food, don't make a big deal out of it. Try again in a few days or weeks.”
Every child is different, and their tolerance for trying new foods may develop at different rates. The best tip we have for vegan families, or any family that is trying to introduce more plant-based options, is to keep an open mind, and a varied pantry, full of plant-based options that your toddler loves, and may grow to love. If broccoli doesn’t work, or that new recipe for whole grain pancakes wasn’t a hit, you’ll always have something as a back-up, whether it’s some warmed up applesauce with cinnamon (yum!) or a parfait with berries and coconut-yogurt.
As you expand your collection of vegan recipes, you’ll be prepared for any kind of toddler request or refusal and keep moving forward!
Feeding toddlers may be a challenge at times, but it can come with so many fruitful victories along the way. We would love to hear what plant-based meals your toddler loves--comment below!