Seeking Help on a Healthy Menu for Picky 21 Month Olds

Updated on February 25, 2008
A.R. asks from Independence, MO
19 answers

I need help making a menu for my 21 month twins. I think they need more variety but they can be picky. Any ideas on some meals that are easy and they will love?

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answers from Kansas City on

There are 2 books on the market that give ideas for incorporating healthy foods into things kids already eat. They are called Deceptively Delicious and The Sneaky Chef. Look them up on Amazon so you can read the reviews.

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answers from St. Louis on

Choose healthy foods that you eat and give them the same foods. Simply put, barring food allergies, you should not have to go out of your way to find foods they like. If you tend to eat the same thing all the time, you may need to expand your diet to include more of a variety of fruits, grains, and vegetables(very little meat, if any for children that young). If you only feed your children foods they "like" during this time when they are getting their taste buds sensitized to different foods, you will forever struggle with getting them to eat a variety of foods. Fix one meal for your family - if they are hungry enough, they will eat. You can just overcook or stick what you fixed for the rest of the family in a blender and you've got food for everyone.

A bit about me: I practice traditional Chinese medicine and do nutritional counseling based on food energetics.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wichita on

My daughter enjoys wilted baby spinach cooked with 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion in about 1/4 cup of chicken broth.

She also likes vegetable, pasta, and bean soup. She doesn't like meat, so I substitute the protein with a can of red kidney beans. I use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, 1 finely chopped yellow onion, a can of petite diced tomatoes, a can of red kidney beans (drained and rinsed), a box of Swanson natural goodness chicken broth, and some water to cover the ingredients. I add dried parsley flakes and dried basil to the soup. Salt and pepper to taste. I serve it over cooked elbow or small shell noodles. I typically make this by browning 3 chicken thighs lightly dusted in flour and seasoned with salt and pepper over medium high heat in a couple of tablespoons of canola oil. Then I add the chopped onion, lower the heat to medium and cook until onions soften, then add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, lower the heat and allow everything to cook over a simmer (lightly boil) for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. I remove the chicken, let it cool and shred it and keep it aside for me and hubby since our daughter doesn't like meat. Then you can serve the soup over pasta and add the chicken if you like.

Have you heard of Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook "Deceptively Delicious"? It's theme is hiding purees of healthy foods in kid's favorites dishes. I haven't tried it yet, but heard it was a great buy.



answers from Kansas City on

My newly turned 2 yr. old likes
chicken nuggets (Tyson only)
taco roll-ups (Delimex) the other brands are too spicy.
macaroni and cheese (I don't use all of the cheese), or plain spaghetti, pasta
egg white of hard boiled eggs
mixed vegetables (frozen kind)
yogurt (watch the sugar contents, not many are low. I buy the
A&E Yo-Light)
grapes, bananas, apples..individual fruit cups. Oranges are too acidic at his age, gives him diarreah.
My son is picky too, he won't eat anything that looks like meat, other than chicken. That's fine by me, we don't eat a lot of meat.
I hope I've listed a few things you had not thought about. My son is allergic to peanuts, so no PB&J for him. I've heard cashew butter is a good alternative, haven't tried that yet.
Good luck with your twins, both of my boys are picky, my oldest is 13 and still picky! My daughter is 10 and is the easiest to please. It's a challenge at any age!
Good luck, I know it can be frustrating.



answers from Wichita on

Have you tried the new cookbook from Jessica Seinfeld. It is called Deceptively Delicious. It is a cookbook on placing vegetable in foods that kids love but with vegetables they normally do not eat. She spends one night a week getting the purees ready for the week. This will also help with making meals for the week, because you know what you are going to have. This book did get some bad press because some parents don't feel we should be tricking our kids into eating anything. Now Jessica Seinfeld says she also include veggies on the side for her kids to eat as well. Well just an idea.



answers from Kansas City on

Hi A.,

I don't have any problems getting my 4 kids to eat or my daycare kids to eat either but here is what they eat.

waffles, biscuits, pancakes (I add in strawberrys or blueberries), french toast, scrambled eggs, sausage patties or links, yogeut burst cheerios, fruit smoothie fruit loops. And I made breakfast quesidillas and they loved those.

Lunch: delli turkey w/cheese and crackers, fish sticks, mac and cheese, PB&J (rolled up like a log and then sliced up), little chicken sandwiches (price chopper has them), hot dogs cut in 1/4ths, grilled cheese, chicken quesidillas or cheese, pasta w/sauce and garlic bread. Tuna fish roll ups (in a tortilla shell).

For vegetables they like cucumbers, grape tomatoes, carrots cooked or fresh, celery w/cream cheese, green beans, mixed vegetables, corn, yams.

For fruit they eat: bananas, cantaloupe, apricots, watermelon, grapes, peaches, pears, pineapple, tropical mixed fruit, mandarin oranges.

They way I would start getting them to eat more is take one thing from each group you know they like so like if the like pancakes or waffles go with that, then for lunch go with mac and cheese, for fruit if they like bananas go with that, but then the next day have pancakes w a fruit mixed in, then have grilled cheese, add the banana but mix in another kind of fruit like peaches, keep building from there. Keep reintroducing things over and over again.

One of my daycare kids wouldn't eat pears by themselves but she would eat fruit cocktail, so I would get a can of peaches and a can of pears and mix them both on her plate. The next time I would add a little more pears and a little less peaches. Nowe she eats them all.

Oh and no matter what it is the wone way I can get them to eat anything is "dippin" whether it be sour cream, ranch, mayo or ketchup, no matter what if they have something to dip it in they will eat it.

For instance my 3 1/2 yr old dips her grapes in Ranch, don't know why. I don't care whaty she dips it in as long as it makes it from her plate to her belly, I'm happy, lol.

Anyway I hope this helps you.



answers from Springfield on

Congratulations! My boy-girl twins are 32 months old. They never like the same things! A dietician once told me it is my responsibility to place healthy nutritious foods of variety in front of my children but that it is up to them to eat it. And secondly, to aim for a well balanced week vs. a well balanced day. And to avoid food battles, because emotionalizing food leads to eating disorders. I follow this advice. I put the same items on my childrens plates. My son almost always eats the meat and vegetables. My daughter almost always eats the pasta's or grains. But, low and behold, they do occasionally avail themselves of the other food items. I also use the new v8 splash sneak in a few more 'vegatables' - Juicy Juice is coming out with one as well. I use the whole grain pastas, or Barrilla Plus because there is also extra protein in those pastas (for the ones who don't eat meat)I also use Ovaltine in their milk in the morning.This approach seemes to work. All six of my children are healthy and thriving, they dont usually 'clean their plate' but are just as apt to push away dessert when they are full as they are dinner. They have healthy habits, listen to their bodies needs, and eat accordingly.



answers from Lawrence on

My two year old is on a strict diet, so we've taken the long way to find a few simple snacks that he loves. He loves sweet potatoes, for instance. I throw a couple in the oven (350) and set the timer (70-90 minutes). Once they've cooled, I peel and mash them with a fork. He eats them cool. Another is to spread refried beans between corn chips (the big triangular ones) for a fun snack. He also loves almond butter (peanut butter alternative) on apple slices. Just a few more ideas for you.



answers from Kansas City on

Hey there,

The best advice our Pediatrician gave to us was to let the kids see you eating a variety of foods. Parents set the example. Second, don't give up if the kids don't like something the first time. It may take 6 to 7 times before they develop a taste for a food. Third, sometimes we can sneak healthy foods into something they are already eating. For example, shredded carrots in spaghetti sauce is a way to add some extra fiber and nutrients. I make smoothies for my kids with berries and bananas and a protein shake to boost their intake of fruit. I have many recipes, if you're interested.

Good luck,



answers from Kansas City on

I start my 2 and 3 year olds (and me!) with a smoothie. They love it and I can throw in all kinds of healthy stuff they don't know about! I start with water or milk, ice, then banana (the ones turning brown are great so they don't go to waste), frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, rasberries, etc.) then you can add in baby food veggies or whatever veggies you hve in the fridge (they will have more texture though so it sometimes throw the kids off-carrot or spinach works great!). I top it all off with a scoop of my Arbonne protein and fiber shakes and blend.

You can add all kinds of things and the protein and fiber shakes add great flavor (chocolate, vanilla or orange) and lots of good stuff for them! You can get the protein and fiber shakes from

Good luck! C.



answers from Columbia on

Hi A. R

I have 21 month old twins too. 1 boy and 1 girl!

What kind of stuff do they like now?



answers from Kansas City on

Many hospitals rent and sell pumps. They say these are the best quality(double pumps-2 breasts at a time). I rented one from North Kansas City hospital for $35 for 2 weeks. It was Medela brand. I recommend renting at first just to make sure that breast feeding is right for her. I think that the pumps from the hospital cost $200 to $300 if you want to buy one.



answers from Kansas City on

I'm sure that other mom's have already responded in this way but...I would just keep offering the foods that you (and your family) enjoy. Do it in a non-judgemental, matter-of-fact way..."this is what we have for dinner"...take the drama out of it by not feeding into their pickiness by making them something separate to eat. Only give them very small portions and don't insist that they finish everything. Over time you will see their tastes change, and their courage to try new things will grow. Remember that they only need a small amount of HEALTHY food to thrive, and that you should track what they eat over a period of a week, instead of daily. Eating can easily become a control issue with your children...a battle that you WILL you really can't make them chew and swallow. Back off, relax, enjoy your own food and try new things yourself. By doing this you will become the example that they will learn to follow. Good luck!!



answers from St. Louis on

I raised the world's pickiest eater and I have tried everything over the past 18 years! My son ate everything up to one year, then suddenly became starch boy - eating only pancakes and bread products basically. I found baby-food carrots to be a lifesaver! Did you know if you add a jar of baby-food carrots to a batch of pancake batter, it not only gives it a nice golden color, but doesn't really change the taste! And two-jars of baby-food carrots in cornbread batter for 9 x 13 pan of cornbread actually enhances the moisture and taste! I never let my son see me putting the carrot puree into his food - we simply called it "the secret ingredient." He had to leave the kitchen when the secret ingredient went in. He actually preferred the foods WITH the secret ingredient - but I knew if he ever saw what it was he'd never eat it again! I was so desparate to get some protein in him that I actually once fried up a whole fish fillet, ground it up and mixed it in the cornbread batter with the secret ingredient. He loved it and had no idea he was eating fish! I have also mixed tofu or wheat germ into foods. I've gone so far as to mix soft tofu into butter, so some protein can be spread on his bread! Oddly, the kids didn't seem to mind the strange texture of the butter, and tofu takes on the flavor whatever it's mixed with. As for my daughters, who were much less picky, I found that putting out a plate of veggies, such as carrots and celery or even apple slices as I was preparing a meal helped get healthy foods in their tummy. When they're really hungry and whining for dinner to be ready a little plate of veggies looks pretty good. (Doesn't look that good once the main meal is on the table!) Also, two of my daughters loved Gerber pureed spinach even when they were far too old to be eating baby food. I kept buying it and would give it to them as a snack! Another weird but healthy snack my girls love even today is frozen peas - frozen, not cooked. It's like candy to them.



answers from Kansas City on

My 3 year old & almost 20 month old like to eat these things:
Chicken Legs (grilled)
Stir Fry
Chicken Fried Rice
Whole baked Chicken
Brisket in crockpot
Chicken Noodle Soup
Raviolis (frozen not canned)


For Sides:
Grean Giant Corn w/ butter sauce, Broccoli & Cheese, carrots with honey
Corn on the cob
Sweet Potato fries
Baked Potato
We usually buy a big veggie tray from Costco and eat on that all week too.
Fresh green beans steamed & Broccoli

For Fruit they usually like everything. I cut oranges up, apples, pears, etc. They like grapes and they love strawberries especially if I put whipped cream on them.

A favorite we have for breakfast are the yoplait smoothies. They love those. They usually have that and fruit for breakfast.

Not sure if this will help you or not since my kids pretty much eat anything. I do need to serve more fish. I tried some tortilla encrusted talapia on Sunday and they loved it.



answers from Kansas City on

my mom got me a book called"First Meals" by Annabel Karmel that I have really enjoyed. It gives you recipes for kids up to age 5. I also really believe kids should eat most things that you would cook for yourself. I read that you have to try something 10 times before you know if you don't like it. Also, sometimes if your child doesn't like something it could be the way it's prepared.



answers from St. Louis on

I have daughter who is 23 months and she is picky as well.
I have found a few simple favorites that she will usually eat.
She likes when I wrap turkey hot dogs in crescent rolls and bake them. She loves fruit cabobs (I cut off the sharp end) and they keep her busy for awhile too... I usually use grapes, apple chunks, banana pieces, and strawberries. Sometimes I let her dip them in Hershey choc. syrup. Messy but she loves it! She loves Mac-n-cheese, and I usually mix in a can of peas because she doesn't seem to mind them in there if she gets to eat the macaroni. As far as quick store-bought faves go, she loves the yoplait yogurt drinks and they have "Dora" on them to make them more in demand! I also recently found a new fave. Oscar Mayer makes Lunchables Jr.
meals. The one she loves is turkey chunks, mozz. cheese, and mini ritz crackers. The content seems to be fairly healthy and they are easy on the go too. Good luck! I'm looking forward to reading your responses for some new ideas for my daughter as well!



answers from Wichita on

Dippin Sticks:
Refrigerator breadsticks/turkey pepperoni and mozzarella cheese

Roll the breadsticks out, put the pepperoni and mozzarella on them and bake until done. Use pizza sauce or ranch for dipping. Every 2 year old loves dipping. You can omit the pepperoni and use just cheese.

Also instead of making taco's you can use saltine crackers and then put a little meat on them and cheese. You can also use Ritz Cracker. They are easier to eat than tortilla chips or shells.

I also use small cookie cutters to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches different shapes which the kids love.

Some Snack Ideas: One snack my 2 year old loves is when I put lots of things together. Colored gold fish crackers with pretzels and cheese cubes is a favorite. Mini Marshmallows and teddy grahams.



answers from St. Louis on

I have a 15 month old, and I have discovered that every child is picky about some things!
Fruits and veggies are good. My son LOVES black olives (weird but cool). Cucumbers, skins off and cut up, are another really good option.
My son also loves when I make soup and give him the veggies from it (he doesn't like the soup liquid). Fried egg, yolk broken and in with the white, with salsa and cheese inside (like an omlette but a lot easier to make). Pasta with pesto (shells are easy to pick up and fun to eat).
Good luck!

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