Add some fun to your kid's afternoon snack.
Any snack on a stick can help kids become more interested in eating - think about how much fun it is to eat food in this way! Make our peanut butter yogurt dip (see below for allergen modifications) and pair it with pretzel stick, plus strawberries on a skewer. Safety tip: use kitchen scissors to cut the sharp end off the skewer, and don’t serve this to a young toddler who may poke themselves! Always supervise eating, especially with new tools.
Megan's DEVOURED this snack. It was the perfect sweet, salty and crunchy combo that was also full of fiber, protein and fat (the three key nutrients for keeping our bodies full and our blood sugar more regulated).
To make the yogurt dip, combine:
Allergy Families: use Kite Hill almond yogurt or coconut yogurt instead of dairy yogurt, sunflower seed butter or almond butter instead of peanut butter, and gluten-free pretzels instead of wheat pretzels. Strawberry allergy? Serve with blueberries and bananas instead
Great for the whole family!
You know those fast, easy, delicious dinners that you love but always forget to make? Yeah, this is one of them for me.
I play around with different tortillas, and this brown rice version from Trader Joe's was pretty good! We use their fat free beans, not because we avoid fat (we think dietary fat is waaaay important!), but because the other types at Trader Joe’s are kinda spicy and my girls haaaaate spicy still, despite numerous exposures! (We're working on it.)
Here's what you need:
Here’s how we made them:
Particular toddler at home? Let them build their own fajita and make sure to serve familiar foods with new ones so they’re not overwhelmed by unfamiliar options. We have more tips like this to help with your picky eater in our Toddler course.
Baby at home (6+ months)? Omit salt and serve deconstructed - shrimp, cooked peppers/onions, tortilla (soft), avocado strips, and refried beans plopped on the tray or presented on loaded NumNum GOOtensil. Looking to do baby-led weaning with your little one? Check out our Infant course.
Get your snack on, friends.
What snacks does a dietitian love?? I wanted to share my go-to options, especially for road trips - but these work well even when you're at home or sending snacks to school. Y’all know how important the snack game is with kids (because HANGRY = DISASTER when you factor in tons of excitement and not enough sleep), and while traveling we up our game so we have lots of options.
I always try to incorporate high protein snacks and fruit/veggies into the mix because protein/fiber balance blood sugar, which helps everyone feel better between meals. Remember, snacks are all about honoring our body’s hunger signals between meals and feeding ourselves the tasty, enjoyable fuel we need to feel our best. Plus, little humans have little tummies so they need to eat often.
Below are some of our favorite options you can rotate into your snack rotation:
My kids don’t have any allergies - and I regularly serve allergens to help prevent the development of allergies - but if your kid has an allergy, please modify. Always have water available as well.
Hydration is key.
Sick kiddo at home? One of the hardest parts of parenting is managing illness. You may have noticed that eating and hydration can be greatly affected by illness, and sometimes it takes days - or weeks - for kids to get back on track. Here are some quick tips when you have a sick kiddo:
Easy ideas to help make snacktime more positive.
Do you struggle with snack time? Here are a few tips:
We share many more tips in our online toddler course, loved by thousands of families worldwide!
Music adds ambience and fun to dinnertime.
In our Toddler Course we talk about the importance of minimizing distractions, including TV and devices, during mealtime. Some of us like the TV on while we eat for some background noise, but you may have noticed that young eaters become easily distracted when the television is on.
Music can provide low level sound and some wonderful ambiance while not being distracting. Turning on music at the beginning of a meal can be a fun pre-meal ritual that directs your child’s focus from play to eating. Plus, listening to music in childhood helps your child develop language skills and learn about rhythm and sound. Make sure that the music isn’t too loud or jarring while you eat or it will feel distracting. For many people, high-energy, fast songs don’t work well for family meals, but do what works for your family.
Sharing your favorite music with your child can be a powerful way to connect. You can sing and dance together now when they’re little and go to concerts together when they get older...and one day they’ll think fondly of you and those memories whenever they hear that special song.
We decided to share some of our favorite mealtime songs with you below. As music lovers and big concert-goers, our selection here is a little bit eclectic. This list could go on forever. What matters is picking music YOU enjoy to create a positive environment for your family. Check out the Spotify playlist we created with these songs.
Mealtime is about more than food.
Meals with young kids can feel chaotic and stressful. It can be a serious struggle. We work with thousands of families who are at the end of their rope (Friends, please consider our toddler course if this is you!)
Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and think about what you want mealtime to feel like 5, 10, 20 years from now with your kids. What associations do you want them to have with food? What do you want them to remember?
Mealtime is oftentimes the only time of day that we get to sit and connect with each other, hence why we can have such vivid memories of how it felt when we were kids.
Here are some simple ways to build positive traditions that your kids will remember:
One day they’ll use these memories to create traditions with their own kids. It’s hard when we’re in the thick of it...but we’re going to miss this, friends! We promise.
Start offering utensils at 6 months.
Let’s talk some of our favorite utensils! (You’ll learn much more about promoting utensil use in our toddler course). Judy recommends utensils with short handles made for little hands. Offer loaded utensils as early as 6 months (watch sharp ends), but always encourage your child to touch food with their hands and don’t get discouraged if they revert to “cave man/cave woman” eating. We never want to discourage use of hands, as many young children default to this and may stop self-feeding successfully if they are discouraged to use their hands.
Check out the utensils section of our Amazon Shop for a complete list of our favorites.
Shown, from the left:
Offer utensils often so your tot gets used to seeing them and eventually can stab, scoop and cut food herself! Start by loading them for her, and eventually you’ll see that she’s wanting to load it all by herself.
Let your kids help too!
We tried the Sprouted Whole Grain Pizza Crust from Trader Joe's today and it was a HIT! I like that the crust is made from whole grain sprouted flour, which is usually easier to digest than regular four, and contains a blend of various whole grains. Pro tip: bake it without toppings for 5 minutes at 400F before topping it and putting it back in the oven. The crust will be a perfect thin crust crispiness. The package has 2 crusts so makes a TON of food!
Top with your favorite sauce and toppings. I love to top it with simple homemade pizza sauce (see below), riced cauliflower and shredded Italian blend cheese on top. No hiding the cauli - your kids will catch on and won’t trust new foods if you’re hiding things! My girls even sprinkle on the riced cauliflower themselves.
For the simple sauce:
Dump the tomato paste into a medium bowl. Slowly add water and mix until you achieve desired consistency - not too thick, but not so thin that it’s watery. Add a drizzle of olive oil if desired, then stir in Italian spices, salt and pepper to taste. This is a very modifiable and inexpensive way to make sauce for 2 pizzas!
Try the Butternut Squash Pizza Crust to make it gluten-free!
Give it some veggies and protein.
Do you sometimes use boxed mac and cheese for your kids or yourself? Yes, homemade mac and cheese is great, but sometimes we need convenient options! If you're a boxed mac fan, you're going to love this!
Here's how we like to modify boxed mac and cheese:
Trader Joe's Organic Mac and Cheese or Annie's Homegrown brand are some of our favorites,
Try this early with your young toddler so that they are used to their mac looking a little different each time! Have an older toddler set in their ways and will only eat the mac and cheese from the blue box? Use the strategies in step 7 of our Toddler Course to slowly graduate away from foods presented the same way each time.
Additional tips to try:
Megan and Judy, co-owners of Feeding Littles, bring you helpful info on food, nutrition, picky eating, and feeding young children. Megan McNamee MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Judy Delaware, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy with children 3 and under in Boulder, Colorado. Megan and Judy are both moms of two and love helping families develop a healthy appetite for all foods!