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Q: My toddler doesn’t like the consistency of vegetables and fruit. Are purées OK at this age?
A: Many little ones find the crunchy texture difficult to manage, and may even gag on small pieces, particularly if their introduction to “lumps” was later than usual. While it’s important to encourage toddlers to develop their chewing and swallowing skills, it is equally important to ensure that they are getting the vitamins and minerals they need. Try cooking food to a slightly softer texture, and mashing rather than puréeing it. Blend his usual purées with some lumpier foods that he loves, such as tiny pasta shapes, and continue to offer tempting fruit and vegetable finger foods too. There’s no reason why some of his food can’t be puréed, but blend it for a shorter period of time each time you present it. If your little one continues to gag and object to lumps, it’s worth visiting your doctor, to reassure yourself that all is well.

Mix and match

The wider the range of foods you offer the better. Wheat-based pastas or breads offer a good source of carbohydrates, but also include different forms, such as rice, potatoes, and different grains (buckwheat, oats, etc.) from time to time. Offer vegetarian proteins such as tofu or lentils at one meal, and fish or chicken at the next. Experiment with the whole spectrum of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, ensuring you toddler gets all the key nutrients she needs.

Did you know…

that juicing fruits and vegetables can help to ensure your toddler eats a good variety and might also help her to become accustomed to new tastes while getting a good boost of nutrients at the same time? Try blending carrots and oranges, or celery, apple, and cucumber. Apricots, peaches, mangoes, berries, or pears can add sweetness to red pepper, carrots, or beets, and make a nutritious combination of ingredients that your toddler may not consider eating on their own.

Juicy nutrients

If you’re struggling to get fruit into your little one, why not try stirring puréed and finely chopped fruit into sugar-free jelly (replacing half the water content with fruit)? Or freeze an exotic smoothie with a little yogurt and runny honey in ice cube trays for a delicious frozen sorbet.

Rainbow Pasta

When learning to feed themselves, toddlers can get frustrated with a spoon and fork and prefer to use their fingers, so pasta dishes that are not too “slippery” are ideal. This one includes a delicious and colorful range of vegetables—you can both have lots of fun identifying the colors as your toddler eats.

10 minutes

15 minutes

NOTE

2 child portions

  • 1/2 heaping cup pasta shapes

  • 1/2 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks

  • 2 broccoli florets, cut in small pieces

  • 2 tsp olive oil

  • 1/2 yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced

  • 1/4 small, red bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into matchsticks

  • 3 tbsp crème fraîche

  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (medium or mild, according to preference)

  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Cook the pasta in boiling water according to package directions, adding the carrot and broccoli for the last 3 minutes of the cooking time.

  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok and stir-fry the squash and red pepper until softened and lightly golden, 3–4 minutes.

  3. Drain the pasta, carrots, and broccoli and add to the frying pan. Add the crème fraîche and cheeses. Toss everything together over low heat for about 1 minute to heat the crème fraîche and just melt the cheeses. Serve warm. (This dish is not suitable for reheating.)

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