As a mom, we worry about everything from day one. Is my baby cold, is he/she hungry, are they eating enough, am I giving the right foods, should I burp them more….. The list goes on and on. A mom’s brain never rests. I am here today to provide a little guidance in a crazy whirlwind of an adventure. Your child and food. Mom tested and child approved recipes! Cue the dramatic music…
From the day my son was born, I chose to breastfeed. Unfortunately, I was unable to pump so if I had to leave him with my mom or husband, he went on formula. I was lucky he didn’t seem to mind a bottle, so long as it wasn’t from me. Early on this was difficult. I felt horrible for not being able to exclusively breastfeed. You know what? My son is perfectly healthy. Whatever works in the beginning for your situation rest assured your child will be fine.
Once it was time to start “real” food, things got confusing and stressful. Whether you stay at home with your child or work all day, you are busy. How do you manage all the household chores, work, and feed your family healthy and nutritious meals? In a word (ok two words), batch cooking. It is a life saver. Really, I promise. On DeliciouslyPlated I post family friendly, homemade meals that will help ensure you and your family get great nutritious and flavorful meals. With some indulgences of course.
When babies are beginning on solids things are a bit easier. Mash up a banana, avocado, or both. Voila, breakfast is ready. In fact, this was one of my son’s favorites. He still loves banana and avocado. Talk about nutrient dense. Avocados are amazingly rich in vitamins and wonderful for developing brains.
Start fresh ingredients early on. Homemade baby food is so simple and it gets fresh flavors and nutrient packed meals in from the beginning. Start with simple flavor and recipes. Mix with formula or breastmilk to introduce familiar flavors along with new ones. You can find some wonderful homemade baby food ideas online. By introducing fresh flavors early you are helping
develop lifelong healthy eating habits. By not exposing your child to added sugars and preservatives they aren’t developing the cravings that so many of us have.
As my son got older I used a ninja to blend up what we were eating. I’ve never seen a child love chicken pot pie more, lol. Make life easy on yourself and start giving them what you are eating (assuming it’s appropriate and healthy). You will be so happy to be making one meal for everyone in the future.
Toddlers are tough. They are becoming very opinionated and want to exert control over themselves and their world. Some days will be more difficult than others but it’s only a stage (thank goodness). Like most toddlers, my son adores chicken nuggets and tenders with fries. You know what? They really aren’t that great for him. I came up with a homemade version of flavorful chicken tenders and zucchini fries that he LOVES. He still gets his chicken and I feel good about what he is eating. That is always a win in my book!
Breakfast is pretty simple in my house. We usually stick to smoothies like this dragon fruit smoothie. Not only are smoothies quick and simple, but they offer lots of nutrition and plenty of fiber for your tot. And how great is it that you can both have the same breakfast. Again, no making different meals for everyone. Save your sanity mama!
Another one of my favorite ways to get my son to eat healthily is this homemade spaghetti sauce recipe. This sauce is full of veggies and fresh flavors. Yes, it takes a while to make, however, remember what I said about batch cooking? This sauce can be used to make frozen lasagnas and will feed your family at least 4 times. Can you give up an afternoon to not have to cook during the week? I sure can. Each of the lasagnas feed my family twice so you really are getting a great return on your time investment.
Every day can’t be spaghetti, lasagna, or chicken tenders so if you have a meal that your child doesn’t like one night, that’s okay. Don’t stress yourself out. Sometimes your toddler truly may not like the flavors of that particular meal. I don’t force my child to eat what I have cooked on these nights. I do, however, make him try it. If he chooses not to eat what I made he is allowed to have a bowl of apples, carrots, and cucumbers. No extra cooking for me and it gives him what he is really wanting, a choice. In a big world where decisions are made for him sometimes he just wants to feel a little control. I can understand and respect that.
When it comes to snack time I try and limit sweets to treats and not daily indulgences. Instead, I offer fruits, nuts, cheese, greek yogurt (check your labels for added sugars), and homemade granolas. For the most part that is all my son snacks on. But boy can he put down some food!
By the time your child is in school a lot of his eating habits have been formed. Try to provide, if possible, a brown bag lunch in lieu of school lunches. Unfortunately, our school systems leave a lot to be desired and mostly offer non-nutritious and over-processed foods. Send you child to school with lunches that consist of veggies and hummus or diced chicken with fruits. You can even meal prep and make yourself the same healthy lunch. Lead by example.
I hope some of my tips and ideas will help you and your family get started on the right track with healthy eating. Remember, some days will be more difficult than others. Moderation is the key to indulgences. Introduce fresh, healthy flavors early on and your child will be well on their way to a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Leslie holds a BS from Appalachian State University and received her culinary training in Raleigh, NC at Wake Technical Community College. She loves to spend time in her kitchen and with her family and friends. Her son, Logan, lights up her world and adores being in the kitchen and cooking with her as well.