When you have kids your top priorities get broken down to basic human needs and making sure your kids’ needs are met – food, sleep and bowel movements. Each of these can become daily battlegrounds but one of the most confusing is food. It often seems like the harder you try with a particular food the less likely they are to eat it and the things you don’t want them to even touch will go straight into their mouths. After two such kids, here are my experiences of toddler tastes.
Things a toddler will always try to eat whenever served to them (and by served I mean left anywhere within arms' reach!)
1. Playdoh Have you ever wondered what neon pink tastes like? Your toddler has, and she won’t hesitate to try to find the answer the minute your back is turned.
2. Sand Be it at the beach, at the playground, in your neighbour’s sand table or your own back yard, there is something about sand that makes toddlers want to explore it’s grittiness with their mouth, by the handful! I can’t even stomach a mushroom that hasn’t been washed properly!
3. Shoes This is the reason we give up sterilising everything at 6 months. As soon as your little one can move around and reach out, they will make a bee line for the nearest pair of shoes they see and stick them straight in their mouth, usually starting with a lick of the sole! Flip flops are a particular delicacy – yuk and double yuk!
4. Paint Whether it’s sucking on a paintbrush, sticking their paint smeared hands in their mouth or just putting their face in the paint tray (as I have personally watched my toddler do in slow-motion horror) – it’s worth investing in non-toxic paints!
5. Anything off the floor It wasn’t tasty when they threw it off the highchair but now that it is shrivelled up and hiding under the sofa it suddenly becomes their favourite food and they will do anything to get it and sneak it in their mouth before you catch them. In fact it doesn’t even have to be food, I’ve heard of dead bugs being picked up and popped in by a toddler!
6. Strings I’m not sure if it’s just my kids that are obsessed with sucking on and chewing drawstrings but there appears to be something about dangling lines of fabric that are irresistibly appealing to them. Except when I spend hours making a toy with lots of dangling drawstrings specifically for them to chew on, of course they have no interest at all in that!
7. Whatever their friends are eating You may have tried to serve it to them ten times before and each time had it thrown on the floor or up the wall but the minute their friend is eating something different to them, that is the only thing your toddler will want to eat and no substitutes are acceptable.
8. Anything on mummy’s plate It is a universally acknowledged fact that food tastes better off someone else’s plate and toddlers are pretty quick to figure that out. If you want your meal to yourself you’d better hide in the kitchen and eat it when they aren’t looking.
9. Ice cream It’s also a well known fact that there is always room for ice-cream, there is a special ice-cream shaped stomach that other food doesn’t fill, only ice cream.
10. French fries Every. Single. Time. (Unless all stomachs are full of ice-cream!)
Foods you may as well give up on before you've even started
1. Anything you have spent more than 20 minutes making When it comes to toddlers there is a direct inverse correlation between the time spent labouring over a meal and the chances of them eating it so keep it quick and simple!
2. Anything they devour at nursery You know how it goes, you pick them up from nursery and the teacher tells you they ate two portions of their school lunch then you painstakingly attempt to recreate said dish at home and they barely take two bites.
3. Whatever they loved last week Toddlers are fickle beings, whatever you do, don’t go stocking up on whatever it is they love this week as that’s a sure fire way to ensure they hate the stuff next week.
4. Visible vegetables Toddlers may not be able to see the toy in front of their faces but when it comes to vegetables they can spot them a mile off. Red peppers or green beans in an otherwise beige meal? – no chance, they will be picked right out and promptly discarded. Hidden vegetables are a mother’s secret weapon.
5. The only thing you have available Somehow toddlers have a knack for realising when you are in a tight spot and making things just that little bit harder for you. We’ve all been there, well laid plans get thrown off track and you find yourself with a hungry toddler and limited resources to hand. Despite all the pleading and bargaining your toddler will not eat the only healthy thing you can find. But they will eat french fries. Every. Single. Time.
What are your toddler’s tastes? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear from you!