What can parents do when their child refuses to eat foods that they know are good for them?
It is very common for toddlers to want to eat only a few foods. They may have eaten a wide variety of baby food and gone on to eat fruits, vegetables, and meat when they were young toddlers. But around the age of 2, many children do not want to eat foods that they once ate. Protein is one of the basic food groups that are necessary for good health and nutrition.
Make foods high in protein fun to eat
Toddlers love to play and have fun, so when you add an element of fun to mealtime, they will be more likely to eat. Combined with their preference for finger foods, you can bring protein into your toddler's diet in a variety of ways. If your child has a peanut allergy, peanut butter sandwiches are out of the question. You can check with your child's doctor to request allergy testing for other nuts that are sold as nut butters. These include cashew butter, almond butter, and sunflower seeds are also made into a product that tastes very similar to peanut butter. Very few children are allergic to sunflower seed butter. All of these options are a great way to get your toddler to eat protein.
Use cookie cutters to make sandwiches in fun shapes
Toddlers love it when you make sandwiches in a variety of shapes. This is easy to do when you make a sandwich with nut butter or sunflower seed butter. Make the sandwich as usual and then cut out a fun shape with a cookie cutter. Your child can learn shapes in this way when you vary her sandwiches with squares, circles and others. Using cookie cutters to make little sandwiches that are just your child's size can be done with meat fillings, such as chicken salad, tuna salad, or ham salad. If you begin doing this when your child is a young toddler, they will be exposed to more flavors and may be more likely to eat more types of protein in their diet.
Most children like to eat rollup sandwiches
Another way to get protein into your young child's diet is by making rollup sandwiches with burrito shells or soft tortillas. You may need to emphasize the uniqueness of this type of sandwich by having your child help you make his own rollup. A few ways to make them high in protein is by filling them with scrambled eggs, mashed beans or refried beans, or with slices of turkey or chicken breast. For turkey or chicken rollups, spread a light layer of mayonnaise on the tortilla and then place slices of chicken or turkey to make this easy lunch or dinner. Children love to roll up their sandwiches by themselves.
Cheese is another way to add protein to your child's diet
Most toddlers love to eat cheese, and if your child does not have a dairy food allergy, you can use tortilla shells to make cheese rollups for her. Simply sprinkle a layer of mild cheddar or Colby jack cheese on the tortilla, roll it up, and microwave it until the cheese melts. Depending on your child, she may like to eat it after it is cut in half or cut in smaller pieces.
Making protein foods look delicious
There are many ways to make ordinary food look like something extra special. Cottage cheese is creamy, and many children will eat it, especially if it looks attractive. One way to do this is to put a small amount of it into a bowl and sprinkle thin slices of strawberries on top of the cottage cheese. Put a whole strawberry on top so it looks like a sundae with a cherry on top. You can substitute yogurt for cottage cheese if you like since both are high protein foods.