When my sister told me she managed to get my niece and nephew to respectively eat almost three cups of zucchini between themselves, I had to raise one eyebrow to show my distrust and lean in with one ear so she could tell me more. “Unprompted!” she screamed.
I’d never seen her so proud of herself. To be honest, I was quite in awe myself. My niece and nephew are notoriously picky – they have been since they day they were born – so I needed to know what wizardry she was doing to all of a sudden have them eating greens. And not just any greens. Zucchini level greens.
Now get ready for this because it's sure to be the story of child manipulation they'll be telling well into their teens: she snuck it into their chocolate cake. I wish I was joking. She's an evil genius. And I've even tasted this magical zucchini-filled chocolate cake and can I be the first to tell you, it tastes absolutely delicious. By far, one of the best chocolate cakes I've had in my entire life.
You see, when it comes to surviving meal times with toddlers, parents really have thought of and tried everything. And sometimes, just sometimes, they stumble across a tactic that works with their particular type of fussy eater and when they do, they just go with it. Case in point: vegetable-filled sweets.
But as funny as this is, we all know exactly how important toddler nutrition is when it comes to making sure they have enough vitamins and minerals in their diet for healthy growth and development. And my sister isn't the only mum I know who's mastered this art of getting toddlers the right food through ingenious ways. Here are a few more out-of-the-box hacks I've discovered:
1. Hide the veggies. Level: Expert.
I honestly don't think you can beat putting zucchini in chocolate cake, but many many parents have gotten to expert level when it comes to hiding veggies in their kid's food.
A common go-to tip is using a spiralizer to create a healthy alternative to pasta using an array of different veggies, like our aforementioned zucchini, carrot, butternut squash, cabbage and even fruits like apple to add a hint or sweetness.
Another great way to do this is in a juice or puree form as your toddler won't be able to see exactly what it is they're having, they'll only be able to taste the nutritional goodness. This is the perfect way to sneak in veggies as you can balance out the taste with fruits.
2. Put cling wrap around their high chair.
Now that you have hiding the veggies down to a fine art, there's another common conundrum parents face at meal time: the mess. Who ever thought it would be so hard to get a spoon into a mouth? Luckily, one of my colleagues has an ingenious hack for that: Put cling wrap around the high chair! Yes, nobody has time to clean up three meals a day.
This is the perfect tip if your toddler is a 'juicer', otherwise known as those who suck all of the juice out of their fruit or veggies and then spit it out. Problem solved.
3. Play monkey see monkey do.
Toddlers really do begin to become little mini versions of their parents when they become experts at picking up our behaviours and mimicking us. So why not use this to your advantage at meal times? Display the behaviour you want your toddler to perform, in this case, EATING THEIR FOOD. You don't actually have to eat it, just pretend to eat it. Then let them have their turn. You'd be surprised how often this one works...
4. Let them hold a spoon.
This trick is truly genius because it just makes. So. Much. Sense. If you find your toddler is forever fighting you for the spoon and you're constantly losing the tug of war just let them win. Really, there's no tricks here. Let them have the spoon. But feed them with another.
See what we did there? Your toddler will be so distracted thinking they're the one in charge because they're holding the spoon, they won't even realise you've been shovelling veggie-filled puree into their mouths and they've been gobbling it down. Muahaha.
5. Feed them while they play.
This tip should really be reserved for dire situations purely based on the fact that it can be time consuming, however, you are guaranteed that it will work. Feed them while they play. It's likely there will be a little more mess and you will be doing a little more running around, but word has is that this is a sure fire way to get the food down.
We know getting through meal times with toddlers can often feel like a stage show, but with these tried and tested tips it doesn't have to be that way. But even then, if all else fails, you have one sure fire win you can now fall back on. Zucchini in chocolate cake, you heard it here first.
Do you have a tip that gets you through meal times with your toddler? Don't hold out on us! Share it in the comments section below.
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner S-26 GOLD TODDLER.
In a perfect world, the perfect toddler would be a perfect eater. In the real world there is S-26 GOLD® TODDLER, a supplementary milk drink, designed to assist your toddler when dietary intakes of energy and nutrients may be inadequate. Our most advanced formulation, S-26 GOLD TODDLER is built on the 4 key pillars of the Alula® Toddler PlatinumCare Complex™.