Toddlers can be amongst the pickiest eaters out there and meal time at this age can cause a bit of stress, tantrums, and sometimes downright food fights.
However, what we feed our children in these early developmental years is the stuff their organs, glands, brain and blood is forming on so the effort is well worth it to safeguard their health in their adult life by giving them a great foundation now.
My son Austin is 2.5 years old and, like all kids, he likes sweets. We have them, but in a smarter way and he also eats a wide array of healthy foods.
It’s important to note that a baby’s taste buds develop around 15 weeks in utero and by 20 weeks, the nerves from the taste buds begin to connect to the brain, sending signals for sweet, sour, and bitter, but the strongest fetal imprinting for taste is in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Studies show that your child will be more likely to eat the foods you ate during pregnancy all the way up until they are 8 years old.
I ate lots of greens, broth, salmon and other high-quality protein, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, and a ton of fruit during my pregnancy and now Austin loves all of these foods, minus the leafy greens which I sneak into his ice pops and smoothies.
If you didn’t eat as healthy as you would have liked during pregnancy, please don’t berate yourself. You can start now by offering your child healthier foods in creative ways.
If I label something as “special”, my son’s eyes light up and he views whatever I give him as a treat.
Here’s a day in the eating and supplement life of my healthy, thriving toddler.
Upon waking: He asks for milk, as soon as he wakes up. I give him organic raw goat’s milk whenever I can find it, and organic goat’s milk when raw is not available. He, like most kids, appears to do better on goat’s milk which more closely mirrors human breast milk and digests within 20-30 minutes vs. cow’s milk that can take several hours to fully digest.
However, I sometimes mix it up with Organic Pastures 100% grass fed raw milk because it contains all the enzymes needed for better digestion and assimilation.
It’s important to note than when he is not drinking raw milk (you must trust the source implicitly. I know where our raw milk comes from and that they test the microbial count of their animals bi-weekly), I add a pinch of Toddler Probiotics to it so that he has living organisms in his milk.
I give him ½ teaspoon of probiotics in his milk regardless twice a week to keep his good gut bacteria healthy and his immune system thriving. Moderation is key with probiotics as you do not to unnecessarily drive and rev their little immune systems with too much.
If you didn’t eat as healthy as you would’ve liked during pregnancy or if your child has not been eating many healthy foods, you can increase this to three times a week for several months and then go down to twice a week.
Good gut bacteria will help them to extract more nutrients out of the food they eat, as well as contribute to good gut and immune health and the shifting of taste buds to healthier fare.
As my grandmother always said, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
It will help them ground into better energy, focus, and even better sleep that evening if you start them off eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking and make sure to include high-quality protein, whole food carbs, and healthy fat.
Along with his 6oz of milk, Austin will eat any combination of the following for breakfast:
Pasture-raised egg (or sometimes two eggs), ¼ avocado, and either organic strawberries, blueberries, or ½ banana. As toddlers can be finicky, sometimes he boycotts eggs and that’s when I let him make them himself.
He either flips an over easy egg or scrambles it in the pan and then his sense of pride of what he made allows him to eat the egg much easier.
2 or sometimes 3 Applegate Chicken and Herb Sausages with fruit and cucumber slices with either pink salt or Hawaiian black salt on them. He feels the black salt is special and if he puts it on the “cuckies” himself, he’ll eat them all.
Full fat sheep or goat’s milk yogurt with 1 Tablespoon almond butter mixed in, 1 scoop pasture-raised collagen for added protein, ¼ teaspoon of Ceylon Cinnamon and Purely Elizabeth’s, organic gluten free (or grain-free) granola. The combination of fruit with grain is a tough one for their little bellies to digest and can cause gas so I try my best to separate out these foods – it’s not always possible with a toddler, but it helps. If he gets a grain-free granola, then I’ll give him fruit with this combo.
Good Culture Cottage Cheese, 1 sausage, and fruit of his choice. It’s important to not over do it on citrus and strawberries in the toddler phase because the vitamin C and acid overload can cause diaper rash due to harsher bowel movements and a little red rash on the face indicating that it’s too much acid and C for their little bodies to process. I limit him to 1 cutie (mini-orange) and 5 strawberries a day or even every other day. Then, I mix it up with peaches, pears, apples, bananas, raspberries, and blueberries.
Note that the rule of thumb on melon is “Eat it alone or leave it alone.” It’s summertime as I write this, so he’s eating watermelon as long as he eats it alone because of its quick fermentation and digestion. Eating it alone prevents gas and putrification in the belly while the other foods eaten with it digest first.
Sprouted Oatmeal. I’ll mix his goat milk into his oatmeal and then skip the bottle while also adding in 1 teaspoon of grass-fed ghee or coconut oil for his healthy fat, Ceylon cinnamon to stabilize his blood sugar, a touch of pink salt for minerals, and one scoop of collagen so he can get 9 grams of protein with breakfast. I also let him pour his own raw honey on top (limiting it to 1 tablespoon) and that’s his “special topping” that gets him to eat it.
Homemade paleo waffle done with almond flour, tapioca, and collagen topped with almond or cashew butter and ghee mixed and a tablespoon of organic maple syrup.
And like most kids, there are days where he just doesn’t want to eat so on those days, I attempt to bribe him with his “gum gums” which are his multivitamin (see below) and I wait to give them to him until after he eats.
If that doesn’t work, I give him his milk, let him watch a show to distract him and give him a teaspoon of ghee and coconut oil and a teaspoon of honey to stabilize him with healthy fats and carbs along with the protein in milk.
Someone once said to me, “as long as you get one good, healthy meal into a toddler daily, you’re winning” and it helped to take the pressure off and aim for that on the tougher eating days.
Several times a week at breakfast, I give Austin 1 teaspoon of Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA for his healthy brain development. Children need DHA during this time of extreme maturation of the brain cells as it helps their language skills and all of their brain development.
If Austin has eaten a lot of wild salmon that week (3 times or so), I’ll skip it. There’s also a bit of healthy omegas in his multivitamin.
Smarty Pants Toddler Formula Multivitamin: This is a great toddler multivitamin that is organic, has methylated folate and B12 (open-source, food based, usable types of vitamins), and all the nutrients needed to help their little thyroid, adrenals, and nervous system develop as healthy as can be. I also love the choline and inositol for brain development and zinc for the immune system. Zinc is an especially important mineral for the prevention and healing from COVID and since most kids aren’t eating a lot of shellfish, it’s important for a toddler to have an appropriate amount of it in their multi.
Around 10 or 10:30am comes snack time and then again around 3 or 4pm.
If I don’t have these on hand, I’ll make a smoothie with mixed berries, banana, spinach, kale, collagen, Fit 365 Protein Powder, and coconut water and freeze those. This is our special thing where mommy and Austin make ice pops together and so that makes him love them even more!
Other crunchy snacks include:
Lesser Evil Organic Popcorn or Paleo Puffs, Jackson’s Honest Purple Heirloom Potato Chips, or Siete Tortilla Chips. I try to get him to use a dip with these like hummus or guacamole that has some collagen in it. “Try” being the operative word here. 😉
Note: Kids need a lot more vitamin A than adults do so don’t be shy on giving your toddlers good quality butter.
If he wants another cup of milk before bed, I give it to him along with a snack of his choice. And if he hasn’t pooped that day, I give him one CALM gummy that has magnesium citrate and that usually takes care of any constipation. I also sometimes add magnesium drops to his water.
That brings us to bed time. If he’s having a hard time winding down, I give him a few drops of Rescue Remedy for his nervous system while he takes a bath with lavender soap and that does the trick. He also has two stuffed animals that are stuffed with lavender for its calming effect.
I hope you enjoyed a day in Austin’s eating life and that it helps you with your little(s). I’d love to hear what you are doing with your toddler – what’s working and what’s not as we can all benefit by learning from one another.
I’ll leave you a few of my favorite eating videos of Austin and all the good wishes for your growing child to be as healthy as they can possibly be!
Take this free, 3-minute quiz to find out if you’re struggling with the #1 problem most Doctors don’t know about, yet 24,000 research papers link it to symptoms like: Exhaustion, Brain Fog, Weight Gain, Anxiety, Insomnia, Depression, Constipation, Bloating, Food Sensitivities, and more…