My 2½-year-old daughter would eat only nuggets and muffins if she had her way. I can't get her to eat vegetables. I have tried withholding pre-meal snacks and bribing her with dessert, but nothing works. What do you suggest?
Jennifer, trying to get a 2½-year-old child to do anything that you want is extremely difficult because she’s in such an age of discovery. But there is something about eating that causes panic in all parents, and there is no absolute or immediate remedy.
Using bribery or withholding privileges are not effective ways to change her behavior. As bold as they may appear, kids in this age group are often fearful of new things, including food. It may be helpful to let her help you prepare a dish you want to introduce, even if it’s letting her spread peanut butter on toast instead of a muffin for breakfast. You can also make muffins from bran cereals and oatmeal, which will make them more nutritious. Here’s a recipe to try:
Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
1½ cups oatmeal (quick-cook or regular)
1¼ cups flour (whole wheat is best but white will work)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup skim milk
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg while, lightly beaten
Combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, blend applesauce, milk, sugar, oil and egg. Add all the ingredients together and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over-mix!
Lightly spray muffin cups on the bottoms only with cooking spray. Fill the cups almost full and bake 20 to 22 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Makes one dozen muffins.
As for chicken nuggets, try instead making chicken fingers from breast meat coated with plain yogurt and rolled in crushed cornflakes. Bake them at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. At least this way, you avoid the sodium and fat of prepackaged nuggets without making drastic changes to her diet. A great way to find terrific recipes is by searching the Internet. Use “healthy children’s recipes” for your keywords.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.