A look at what my toddler chose to eat versus what I served him at each meal for a week.
A couple weeks ago I shared this 50 Healthy Toddler Meals post where I showed you guys some of the meals I’ve been serving Squish lately. Today I thought we’d do something a little different. Whenever I share his meals, I get a lot of comments about how much he eats and what a good eater he is. Yes, he is a good eater…but before we get into today’s post, there are a few things I want to point out:
- Squish has been at the top of the growth chart for both height and weight since he was born. He is big for his age.
- Yes, he eats a lot. I recognize that his meals may be bigger than the meals that are served to other two year olds. And that’s perfectly fine. Every kid is different.
- No, he is not the perfect eater. If given the option, he would live on fruit and bread. (He takes after his mama)
Last week I did my best to take before and after photos of each meal to give you guys an idea of what he eats. As you’ll see, there are plenty of time when he doesn’t eat everything on his plate…and plenty of time when he doesn’t eat his vegetables, just like most kids.
Am I worried about it? No.
I view it as my responsibility to serve him a variety of foods at meals and snacks (that includes things like cookies and donuts) throughout the week. It’s his responsibility to decide how much of it to will eat. If you’re familiar with Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility, you may recognize this philosophy.
I do my best to serve him a good mix of fruits, veggies, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats. Some days he eats well, some days he doesn’t. He has his favorite foods (pretty much any fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, cookies etc) and foods he’ll spit out pretty much any time I serve them (green beans, peppers, peas, etc). That doesn’t mean I stop serving them. I continue to put different meats and vegetables on his plate, in a variety of different forms, so that he’s exposed to them.
And it can be hard…and frustrating….and a lot of times I want to take the easy way out and just give him things I know he’ll eat….but one thing I’ve learned is that every time I want to give up, he goes and does something that surprises me like grabs a raw carrot to crunch on while watching TV or eating a whole floret of broccoli unprompted.
And it inspires me to keep doing what I’m doing! So here are his meals from last week:
Monday Lunch: Pulled pork + guacamole + Simple Mills crackers + kiwi + roasted green beans & Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs
He ate most of the pork, all the crackers, the sweet potato puffs and all the kiwi. I ended up giving him the second half of the kiwi and some extra guacamole as well.
Monday Dinner: Deconstructed chicken philly: Cheesy bun + chicken + sauteed peppers and onions + a clementine
I added some Annie’s Organic Ketchup to get him to eat some chicken. Sometimes I serve a dipping sauce with the meal, other times I serve it without to see if he’ll eat the meat without it. If he doesn’t, I usually offer him ketchup or hummus to get him to eat some. He left the peppers.
Tuesday Breakfast: Siggis 4% Whole Milk Blueberry yogurt + clementine + an egg wrap (he likes them cold so it’s easy to make them ahead of time and just pull one out in the morning)
He ate it all. He very rarely leaves anything behind at breakfast.
Tuesday Lunch: Strawberries + Roasted sweet potatoes + slice of thin-sliced Dave’s Killer Bread with Crazy Richard’s peanut butter and jelly + broccoli
He ate everything except a few sweet potatoes. I gave him some ketchup to get him to eat the sweet potatoes and he surprised me by trying the broccoli on his own and then eating the rest of it, no dip needed.
Tuesday Dinner: Pasta shells with marinara + SteamFresh green beans + salmon cakes
He tried a green bean, spit it out and left the rest. He ate about half of the salmon cake and I gave him some hummus. However before this he also ate about 4 carrot sticks dipped in hummus while I was getting dinner ready.
Wednesday Breakfast: Pears + Blueberry yogurt + Egg wrap
He ate it all and about halfway through, daddy came home with a donut for me so I gave about 1/4 of it to Squish.
Wednesday Lunch: Cottage cheese + carrots with hummus + pulled pork + Simple Mills crackers
He ate most of it but left a few of the carrots.
Wednesday Dinner: Strawberries + Girl Scout Cookie + Annie’s Shells & Cheese with peas and chicken sausage added (I usually buy Meijer brand spinach and mozzarella chicken sausage because it’s the lowest in sodium that I’ve found)
He ate the berries and cookie, then tackled the mac and cheese. He ate all of the sausage pieces with a fork. He pulled the peas out of the shells, stuck the shells on his fingers one by one and ate them that way and left most of the peas.
Thursday Breakfast: Kiwi + Cottage Cheese + Easy Banana Pancake + Egg wrap
He ate it all without any trouble.
Thursday Lunch: Pears in 100% juice + leftover mac and cheese + thin slice pb toast + half a salmon cake
I actually replaced the salmon cake with a slice of turkey because I forgot that I’d promised him a turkey sandwich in the car on the way home. He ate it all except some of the mac and cheese.
Thursday Dinner: We went out for Mexican. He ate several chips and salsa while we waited. I ordered him a chicken quesadilla with half the amount of cheese and a side of applesauce. I took one of the 4 quesadilla slices away because it was pretty much empty and he dropped about half of one on the floor but ate the rest.
Friday Breakfast: Fruit + yogurt + egg. He ate it all. I didn’t take a picture.
Friday Lunch: Cottage and Cheese + Chips and hummus + Pulled pork and bbq sauce
He pretty much just ate the cottage cheese and chips.
Friday Dinner: We went out to dinner. We ordered shrimp as an appetizer and I got him chicken fingers with cottage cheese for dinner.
He didn’t eat any of the shrimp. He ate one chicken finger and all cottage cheese…I forgot he’d also had it for lunch.
What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to feeding your kiddos?
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I love these posts! I think I put too much expectation on what my almost 16 month old should eat. I expect him to eat big meals filled with veggies proteins fats and fruits so I offer it all. When he doesn’t finish I worry he isn’t full but I know he’s always getting enough. I love that you incorporate treats into life but keep it in balance with everything else.
so important to me! I try to make “dessert foods” part of the norm bc that’s how I treat them for myself.
Thank you for posting this! It’s nice to know that my toddler isn’t the only one who is picky and choosy about what he eats. I have the same plates and try to serve meals with a variety of tastes and food groups. Here’s to hoping one day he will eat better! Right now I’m not worried 😉 I was wondering what you thought of giving toddlers a multivitamin. My 18 month old still gets his polyvisol once a day.
I don’t give Squish one, but I don’t think it can hurt!
Sara | sarahaasrdn.com says
OMG Lindsay this is an EXCELLENT post! A perfect summation of the challenge and glory of feeding toddlers! Love your approach and Squish is super lucky to have you as his mama!
Thanks so much, Sara!
Very helpful to see what a toddler actually eats out of what was offered! My 2 year old twin boys can be quite picky about meats and veggies – I’ll be trying your trick of adding some hummus with chicken to entice them. I usually just use ketchup, but hummus seems like a better option!
definitely worth a try! i also try guacamole, bbq sauce or yogurt mixed with salsa too!
Megan A says
I’m so inspired by your posts! Aubrey is usually pretty good about eating things like cooked carrots, peas, broccoli, but lately she’s just wanted to eat cheese and apples… And, she’s discovered her sweet tooth. Sigh. She’s taken to snacking a lot lately, and I try to curb that so she’ll eat full meals, but it’s hard when I’m working so much. Mornings I can usually get her to eat a cereal bar on our way to the sitter, or sometimes nothing and it’s up to the sitter (who usually provides healthy meals). It’s hard to wake her up early enough to get her to eat before we have to hit the road by 6:50. :-\ Dinner is becoming harder to get her to eat a meal because she wants to eat as soon as we get home and I haven’t had time to prepare dinner for us. We MUST start doing some meal planning…
food prep/meal planning definitely helps! hang in there!
Kelsey R. says
I love this! This is such a great idea! I mean some things I would wonder what he actually ate of it! So it is nice to see what he actually ate! Love this idea!
[email protected] says
I love this post! I think most kids eat oddly but they usually grow up just fine. I have been told I lived on hot dogs for a while as a toddler and my little sister survives off of nutella, straight up out of the jar!
Linz @ Itz Linz says
well that’s a fun post! we all know toddlers never eat exactly what we plan for haha! i’ve been saying “you don’t have to eat that” and trying to really believe it… i’ve tried not to battle too much with food keeping hope that he WILL eat when he’s hungry and i can usually get him to eat SOMETHING. i’m not a fan of cooking him separate meals, but sometimes i’m like hey whatever as long as he’s eating!
it’s hard….but they do know what they’re doing!
Tara | Treble in the Kitchen says
Such a cool idea! I love seeing the before and after and hearing your philosophy on allowing him to make his own food choices 🙂
Thank you for this post! After a particularly rough day of feeding two toddlers this gives me hope.
hang in there mama! you’re doing great!
Allison G. says
This post is great! I have a 14 month old son and we’ve been struggling to get him on table food. He has an occupational therapist who is working on chewing with him and I’ve been desperately searching for meal ideas! We give him table food to try before we move on to his purees to make sure he eats enough. Your toddler meal posts have been helpful for both food ideas and to get an idea of portion size. Now I can refer to this one to keep my expectations in line when he does start eating. Thanks!!
you’re welcome! hang in there mama! feeding kids is tough and you’re doing great!
Thanks for this post. I feel like my 2.5 year old was a better eater as a baby…now she wants to snack constantly, turns her nose up at things she’s used to like, and loves to request “treats” (candy from potty training–kind of regretting that idea), chips, fries, everything unhealthy. It’s tough for me to go through “all the work” of fixing something healthy and balanced only to throw it away at the end of the night and give in to her request later for crackers etc.
have you tried limiting snacks? i have to do that occasionally when it gets a little out of control and there are tantrums but it does tend to help him eat more at meals even if it takes a couple days.
Thank you for the reply! That’s definitely what I *need* to do–you’ve inspired me to do a better job introducing and re-introducing new things to her!
Katie @ Live Half Full says
What a great reminder for toddler moms! Thank you for sharing!
Diana @ The Baby Steps Dietitian says
This is SO helpful! Such a great reminder that even when kids don’t eat everything we serve, they’re still getting a lot of good, nutritious food.
Kim Studdard says
My daughter is just like your son! She’s very tall for her age (she’s 2 and wears 4t-5t pants) but is naturally small, so most clothes look like they are falling off. She’s not a picky eater either, but we’ve considered her a vegan since birth. While I’m okay with this, there have been times where I wonder if she is getting enough protein and fats in her diet. Her doctor assured me she was fine, and we’ve found ways to up her protein intake while not giving her meat (which she hates, no matter how much we have offered it). She actually grabbed tofu and snacked on it plain! Oh the things our kids do. Your son looks very healthy and I think it’s great that you offer him so much variety!
thanks so much!
Such a good post idea! How do you handle it if he wants more of something (like the fruit) while barely touching the rest of his food? Or maybe he doesn’t do that?
he does that frequently. he always eats his fruit first and he always asks for more 🙂 it depends on the day. sometimes i give it to him, sometimes i say no and tell him he can eat what’s on his plate or be all done. if he eats it all and asks again, i give it to him.
Sarah Thomas says
My biggest issue with my 15-month-old is getting her to gain weight! She eats pretty much anything we offer, though she tends to favor citrus fruits and red meat. She is a tiny peanut — only 17.5 lbs — so I struggle to find healthy, high-calorie options! I almost feel guilty giving her veggies because they are t caloric enough.
this post might help! https://www.theleangreenbean.com/healthy-fats-for-kids/
How do you know how much you should be feeding your toddler? My son is almost 15 months old and I found a toddler serving size chart but it’s for children 1-3 (seems like a wide range) and I’m wondering if I’m feeding him too much. I give him an option from each food group (grains, fruit, veggie, protein, dairy) and let him pick what he wants to eat.
there are general guidelines but i think it’s different for each kid. I’ve always just given him what i feel is a reasonable amount and not worry if he doesn’t eat it all…and then adjust the amounts if he seems hungry. he’s alway been big but grown at a steady rate so i feel like he’s getting the right amount.
Quinn Boyette says
Great post! I’m struggling on what to feed my 14 month old. She has a few staples (peas, broccoli) but lately has even been rejecting those! Every time I make something different for her she refuses and I feel like I am just wasting food. At what age did you start with dipping sauces?
i started them early! sometimes he just eats them with a spoon and sometimes he dips things in them!
This was so interesting to me! It definitely makes me feel like my toddler is a little more normal. I get so tired of putting veggies on her plate just to eat them myself or thrown them away, but I guess all we can do is keep trying. Like I said on Instagram, meat is a big problem for my toddler but she did eat some turkey lunch meat tonight finally. She seems to really hate chicken, which surprises me because it’s the most common/bland meat ever!
I love this, so good to know that I don’t need to have such high expectations at meal time. I’m trying to remember that children will not starve themselves and will eat when they are hungry. My problem is I think during this conditioning time that she will hold out until inconvenient times to tell me she’s starving or wait for “snack time” (her favorite time)