The toddler diet. It’s enough to make even the most laid back parent break out in a sweat. Trying to get a tiny human who changes their mind every 15 minutes to eat decent food day in and day out is somewhat challenging.
Thinking up healthy and nutritious meals each week when they would rather eat the crap they’ve found under the sofa just drives most people to drink. I was so strict with Molly’s diet when I first started weaning her, but now at 2 and a half I have become a bit more lenient because, well…toddlers are insane.
It all started so well
Each Sunday when Molly first started eating solid food I would cook and puree all her meals for the following week. Absolutely everything was carefully planned and prepared.
For breakfast she would have porridge with apple, pear and blueberries. Her first proper dinner was salmon, sweet potato, broccoli and carrotts. I took pride in the fact that I was feeding her wholesome and nutritious food, and absolutely loved watching her eat.
I was lucky in that she wasn’t fussy at all, and she would happily try each new food that I put in front of her. She tried a tiny bit of chocolate once around her 1st birthday but spat it out. I was so pleased with myself, her diet was the one bit of parenting I was actually winning at!
I remember seeing mothers in our local shopping centre, giving their tantrumming toddlers sweets/crisps/cakes to try and appease them…‘I’ll NEVER do that with my child’! -HAHAHAHAHA!!!!
Toddlers love sugar
I’m not sure when it exactly happened as, let’s face it, the days just blend into one big tired mess, but as she got bigger she started to go off certain foods and develop a massive craving for the white stuff. Not cocaine, obviously, although according to some people/newspapers/judgy mums, sugar is just as bad.
The problem is it’s in absolutely everything, even bread. I am in awe of parents who have managed to eliminate sugar completely from their child’s diet, it truly is amazing. I could probably do it if I gave it some more thought, but when you’re doing the weekly shop with a screaming 2 year old who refuses to sit in the trolley and is pulling everything off the shelves, you haven’t exactly got time to analyse how many grams of sugar are in cheerios…just grab the fecking things and run.
Talking of the weekly shop, I have had to resort (on certain occasions, definitely not every time) to going to the bakery bit when we first go in, and getting her a biscuit on a stick for her to chomp on while we hastily do our shopping.
I am aware that this is breaking every parenting rule in the book, but the way I look at it is it ‘s all about survival – mine. Motherhood is fantastic, but at times it is tough, lonely, tiring and relentless.
We have recently been through another sleep regression wherby she has woken frequently through the night before getting up before 6am each morning. She also completely dropped her daytime nap a couple of months ago. I am a stay at home mum and we can’t afford to put her in nursery, so it’s down to me. I am exhausted pretty much every day so if I can get just 5 minute’s peace in the supermarket while I try to shop, then I will. Besides, her diet is still pretty good. Here’s what she eats on an average day:
Breakfast: Cereal (either rice crispies, cornflakes, cheerios, weetabix or porridge). Water to drink.
Morning snack: Either fruit & a yogurt or a fruit smoothie. Also either a crumpet or a slice of wholemeal toast. If we go shopping or to soft play she’ll have a biscuit/small chocolate bar. On occasion she’s had smarties and a fruit shoot, or a cake at our playgroup (I know, I know, just don’t tell her dentist). Water.
Lunch: Either a ham or cheese sandwich on wholemeal bread, a packet of pom bears, cucumber and pepper sticks. Water.
Afternoon snack: Either an apple or some crackers/veg sticks with houmous/soft cheese. Or sometimes if we’re out she has a Kinder Egg. Water.
Dinner: Her favourite dinners are either salmon with rice, broccoli and mini corn on the cobs; king prawn stir-fry with noodles; or a roast chicken dinner. Water to drink.
Before bed: Cup of warm whole milk.
Everything in moderation
The only things she absolutely will not eat are mince and potatoes (sometimes she’ll eat a tiny bit of mash), so things like spaghetti bolognese and cottage pie are a no-go.
She also changes her preferences weekly…she loved beans before and now they taste like poo apparently. We do tend to eat the same things week in week out, but it’s all healthy and home cooked, and we never have take aways.
I don’t buy chocolate, squash or sweets for the house. The only biscuits I buy are either malted milks or occasionally chocolate digestives. I don’t even buy sugar – I have sweetener in my coffee and I use honey on our porridge.
Luckily she still absolutely loves fruit and veg, broccoli in particular, and there hasn’t been a single day since she started eating solid food that she hasn’t eaten at least 4 or 5 different portions. Apart from on holiday, where she lived on ice cream and chips for a week, but that doesn’t count right?
Yes she has the odd sugary treat, but if there ever came a day where she refused to eat her dinner in favour of a biscuit, then this would stop. I think if I banned them altogether though that it would cause a negative association with those sorts of foods, and she could develop some kind of eating disorder later on, i.e. gorging herself on crap because I never let her eat it.
It really is all about balance. Hopefully I’m instilling good habits, and she does seem to be grasping this concept already. As for biscuits, well they’ve pretty much saved my life and sanity a few times!