My daughter, who is 22 months old, had a lot of food allergies when she was born. As she grew older, she outgrew a lot of them like milk and soy but still is allergic to anything in the bean family like beans, green beans, lentils.
This has made me very conscious about what I feed her. We are also vegetarians. This narrows down our options for what I feed her a lot and we are Indians as well so our diet is very different from the western diet. She goes to daycare - so what I can give to daycare for lunch and snack has to be daycare-friendly (something she can eat by herself without too much involvement by the teachers, no nuts, etc).
One of the major issues I have hitting with her diet is that she doesn't like any vegetables and she's low on protein. I was reading the article linked below on What To Expect on some tips. Here's what I took away from the article.
Make food fun:- Cut sandwiches into fun shapes (though I first need to get her into sandwiches - so far she's not liked bread much at all). Put blueberry smiles on pancakes or on top of cereal. Interactive food like food with dips where they have to dip and eat might be fun. (I tried this - carrot sticks with ranch dressing. She didn't like it at all). Get toddler involved in meal prep - like getting her to help in picking veggies in the store or letting her choose which healthy food to buy. While cooking, have her do some of the small things like stirring or adding ingredients. Make small portions of food - like mini pancakes or mini muffins.
Sneak in nutrients:- This is where I'm facing a lot of difficulty. Sneak some cauliflower into mac'n'cheese (except she doesn't like mac'n'cheese). Add shredded carrots or sweet potato to pancake batter or omelettes. ( I tried this as her daycare teacher suggested - carrots in omelettes. It worked. ) And fruits are good too - if she likes fruits, let her have them. Her daycare teacher suggested making muffins with veggies and see if that works. She said she'd get me the receipe from her mother.
Be a good model:- Toddlers mimic mom & dad. So we need to eat better, at the table and eat a lot of veggies for dinner. Avoid junk food.
Let them choose:- Let her choose what to eat. Give her 2 healthy options and once she's picked one, stick with it. She'll eat if she's hungry. Don't force your toddler to eat.
Feeding a Picky Eater