Again, props to Mrs. J. for keeping my mind off of things that I havent yet found the words to write about, by giving me a project! She asked that I write some ideas on feeding toddlers.
I'm not a good person for this. Just putting that up there up front. My kids eat and they eat a variety of things, but we are rebels amongst the toddler parents we know.
1) Offer them everything. We offer our kids some of everything on the table. Does some of it get thrown away? Yes. But they are exposed to it and are able to try it. As a result, these kids love salmon (and almost any other seafood we've thrown at them), caviar (that was Peter- not me), and Greek yogurt.
2) If you wouldn't eat it, then don't try to force them to. This doesnt mean that if you dont like it, dont offer it, rather, if it looks and smells like crap and you wouldnt try it, why do you think they want to? Open a can of baby food and eat it. Yeah. It's that nasty. It's no wonder kids dont want some of that stuff! Now, peel a mango and make your own paste for your infant, or give a slice to your toddler. Mango baby food- not so great. Real mango- delicious.
3) If you dont want them to have it, then reevaluate why you're having it. Now, dont get me wrong, I love my Guinness and white wine. Do I give the kids that? Of course not (although Maya does her damnedest to get into my Guinness whenever she can!). Some things you dont give them because they arent old enough (like booze). Other things we dont give them because we know it's bad. Like soda. High Fructose Corn Syrup is not a vegetable, even though the word "corn" is in it. If you wouldnt give it to your kids, think about that as they watch you eat/drink it. They know you want it... which means they want it... Childhood obesity is no joke. Stop it while you are still in control of their dietary choices.
4) Eat well. Let your kids know where their food comes from. Prepare it with them (or at least while they watch). Talk to them about it. Let them know that it is good and good for them. I know this sounds nuts, when it comes to toddlers. But I swear, our kids love to hang out in the kitchen and "help" me cook.
5) Eat together. We eat our meals together. We have breakfast and dinner together as a family and try, monthly, to visit Peter at work and have lunch together. The kids and I have lunch together while he is at work otherwise. They do have snacks (although I tend to have a small snack with them). Eating is a family activity. It's a shared activity. It shows them variety. I have whole grain cheerios for breakfast; they have a bowl with me, then have some fruit and yogurt. Morning snack is rice cakes of some sort, with a soft goat cheese. The kids love it. How many toddlers do you know who go nuts over goat cheese and hummus (another favorite additive to rice cakes)?
6) Find your mojo. When we first started feeding the kids what we eat, some folks were pretty torn up about it. What? No chicken fingers or mac-n-cheese? No pizza (although we do eat pizza- it just has feta and fresh mozzarella and spinach on whole wheat crust! we eat regular pizza stuff too, but that's a favorite!)? No hotdogs? What will they do when they are around other kids! I guess they'll eat... And eat food that I'd like to eat too! A common thing was "You dont want to give them good food; then it will be too expensive when you go out to eat and they dont want to order off the kid menu." Then, I suppose, we wont be able to go out to eat. Why would we relegate them to food that they (let's be honest) shouldnt be eating in quantity, that is over processed and is so far from being "real" it's ridiculous, when they could have fresh seafood or organic meat or steamed veggies? One of their first restaurants was Pure Food & Wine in NYC. They were just starting to eat solids. One of their first meals when they were eating solids was at Le Gourmet in North Wales, where they dug into a salmon eggs benedict. Food is something to be shared with them! We want them to enjoy those experiences, as we do! If it means we go out to eat every 6 months because they are ordering off the "real" menu, then so be it. I'd rather do that than have them think that McDonald's-style food is what they should be eating.
So, that's kind of our take on things. We feed them what we eat. It works. They love food. And that's an awesome thing. But you have to do what works for your family. This is just our experience.