Toddler Picky Eaters

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    It's a glorious weekend afternoon. You've grilled dinner for the family, and the air is infused with the blessed aroma of roasted bird meat. That cheap rose is really working for you. Everyone sits down at the table and that's when you hear it. Those words that will kill your grilling buzz: "Ew, I don't like that black stuff on my chicken!"

    Grill marks. They're up there with "my food is touching other food" and "what are those little green things."

    So fine. Obviously this is no time to jump out of your seat and whip up some safe macaroni and cheese for your sensitive flower. You really can grill meat without getting grill marks. Here's how.

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    Any parent of a picky eater knows the stress that comes along with it. And I don't just mean a kid who won't eat broccoli. I mean picky to the pickiest degree of pickiness. I have twins -- one eats like a champion and has given me more grey hairs at mealtime than I care to admit. Sometimes a whole day goes by where he refuses everything except milk and a few peanut butter sandwich crackers. And then I try calming myself by saying, Well at least it was some protein.

    When I talked to our pediatrician about it, she did calm me by saying how we have to look at a toddler's food intake by the week, not the day. If they don't eat well for one day, but then eat better the next, we shouldn't worry. In fact, a couple of days could go by with some major pickiness and food refusal and your child will likely still keep up with the kid who eats everything.

    Still, parents of picky eaters get desperate. And we do things to get our kids to eat out of desperation. Questionable things ....

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    Did you hear the one about the mom who got her two picky eaters to love vegetables? Not just eat -- LOVE vegetables. True story. Karen Le Billon had a toddler and a 4-year-old on the "white foods" diet who ate more during snack time than during meals. So she tried a little experiment to see if she could get them to change in a year -- and it worked, mamas. It freakin' worked!

    Just one little thing: The experiment involved moving the whole family to France. Hey, who said this was easy? Karen and her family lived there for a year, where she had her whole food world turned upside-down and came up with her own 10 common sense, life-changing "food rules." Her book is called French Kids Eat Everything. And they do. But Karen's rules are meant for the rest of us living here on the other side of the ocean.

    Are you wondering how you get your kids to eat everything? Here are Karen's 10 rules.

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    Ah breakfast, the most important meal of the day. When it comes to toddlers, however, it can also become one of the most frustrating meals of the day. You want them to start the day off right, but sometimes, nothing just seems right enough for them to eat.

    At my house, the biggest problem is the dreaded rut. We get in the habit of putting a rotation of the same things on our kids' plates each morning -- Greek yogurt, cereal, fruit, whole wheat waffles, and some turkey sausages. After awhile I even get bored of making it. Fortunately, whether you're dealing with a picky eater or just want to add a little extra fun to your morning, there are plenty of ways to take breakfast and make it even better. Here are six fun things to try:

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  • Junk Food Could Damage Your Toddler's Brain

    posted by Adriana Velez January 3, 2012 at 1:36 PM in Toddler
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    Can't wait to snap a photo of your toddler trying her first French fry? Well, you may want to hold off on that first fry. A new study on food and your brain just came out with disturbing results: Fast food can make you dumb. Seriously. Trans fats -- the kind found in fast food and processed food -- are tied with lower brain volume and worse cognitive performance. In other words, junk food makes your brain smaller and slower.

    It's pretty hard to rationalize this one away. If you want your child to eventually do well in school, it sounds like you'll want to lay off the fast food. And you may want to cut back on the boxed snack foods, too. Sorry. We already know that childhood obesity is a problem (or do we?). But here's one more reason to take your children's nutrition more seriously.

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    If your toddler's picky eating is consuming your worries and making mealtimes miserable, know that your battle is likely nothing compared to that of the parents of 19-month-old Alex Tesoriero. The toddler will literally eat nothing. In fact, he's never even tasted food.

    His story is heartbreaking, and if your child will eat nothing but mac and cheese, it will make you grateful he or she will at least eat that.

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    Popsicles are a summer staple, especially if you're a child. My 2-year-old daughter constantly asks for "Popacles" and sits with her brother on the patio, slurping away happily. However, we don't buy popsicles. If you've ever read the labels on many of the popular brands, well, they're downright scary. It has corn syrup, lots of unhealthy dyes, and chemicals and it's really just supposed to be flavored ice on a stick.

    Making your own popsicles is incredibly simple, and I've got some great recipes. For those of you who still want to buy some that are pre-made, I've got some better options, too!

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    Last week, I became a bit obsessed with the world of Bento Boxes. You know, those insanely adorable lunches that take longer to make than I spend on an entire week of meal planning and cooking. I just can't imagine taking the time to make little works of art every day for lunch. Who has the time for that? And, then there are these. The far less time intensive recipes for our darling children. But, unlike the gorgeous Bento Boxes, these recipes are less than apprealing. I'd go so far as to use the word revolting ...

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    Sometimes when you're looking to improve your child's diet, it can be rather daunting, especially when your kid has a favorite dish that isn't the most healthy. We all know that cutting out their favorite food isn't always met with happy results.

    But you don't have to cut it out -- well just the unhealthy parts of it. So rather than overhauling your diet altogether, let's look at healthy food swaps kids will still like and maybe not even notice. All while we avoid getting sucked into the baby and "kid food" trap.

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    What's the first thing you think of when you're considering feeding a toddler? Macaroni and cheese? Pizza? Buttered noodles? Peanut butter and jelly? French fries?

    I think most of us are guilty of thinking that kids need simple meals. We have preconceived ideas about what toddlers will and won't eat, and as they graduate from baby food to toddler food, sometimes we limit their diets. The good news is that we don't have to.

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