Exciting eggs for toddlers 


Hard boiled eggs are a great source of protein for busy toddlers. It’s easy to make them appear more exciting and attractive by using egg moulds. You can obtain them cheaply and with free shipping from AliExpress, otherwise try having a look in a local Japanese store.

Directions 

  1. Boil your eggs as normal. Make sure they are small to normal size (i.e sz 6) as a jumbo egg won’t fit in the mould.
  2. Peel your eggs while still warm. I like to pour out the boiling water and let the eggs sit in cold water for a couple of minutes to cool down. Peeling them under a trickle of cold tap water can help the shell come off easily.
  3. Place your egg in the mould and close the lid.
  4. The egg then needs to cool. You can use an ice bath, put it in the fridge, or (in a hurry) put it in the ice tray of the freezer for 20 mins.
  5. Serve to toddler. If you want you can use shreds of dry seaweed to artfully decorate but mine is just as excited without. The great thing about these moulds is that the pattern is imprinted on both sides so you can also cut these in half and effectively have two cars (or fishes etc.) which can make them easier for little ones to eat. My toddler likes to eat the yolk first and then eat the egg white.

Feeding with Love and Good Sense

One of the parenting books that has had the greatest positive impact for me when it comes to toddlers & food is Ellyn Satter’s “Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense (Revised and Updated Edition)“. I stumbled across mention of her ‘Division of Responsibility in Feeding‘ in a parenting blog and was intrigued enough to track down her book through my local library.

I read it when my daughter was still under 2 years old and I had already found myself starting down the road of short-order cook in a desperate attempt to convince her to eat at dinner time.  She has various health concerns which mean that for the first 12 months of her life her weight was of vital concern (plummeting at one point as low as 1% on the growth charts before climbing up to 40% by her birthday) and periodically her reaction to pain and inflammation is to simply refuse to eat for a week.

At one point, a few weeks after one of her hunger strikes,  I was exhausted from regularly making her a second meal because she’d refused what I’d offered her for dinner. I realized that my fears about her not eating were largely rooted in a traumatic past rather than in the present. Her weight had stabilized along a healthy growth line and I didn’t want to set myself up for a lifetime of cooking stress by creating a fussy child with too much power in the kitchen – something that wouldn’t be comfortable for either of us! So I looked around for more information published by parents, nutritionists, and dietitians, discussed these with our GP and settled on Ellyn Satter’s method.

Essentially, her division of responsibility boils down to: the parent is responsible for the WHAT, WHEN and WHERE of feeding. Your child is responsible for the HOW MUCH and WHETHER of eating.

Her book goes into much more depth, has a ton of nutritional information, and is broken down into age-related sections (i.e. differentiating between a baby and a toddler). She also discusses the importance of providing nutritionally balanced meals; the child feeling safe & secure that these meals/snacks are regularly provided as part of a routine; trusting that your toddler has an innate ability to self-regulate their food intake over the course of a week; and to include treats/dessert in moderation and as part of meals (and not as rewards).  For me it’s been a huge relief as I no longer worry when my 2 year old decides one dinner that the only thing she is going to eat on her plate is the protein and the next day she only eats the vegetables. I’ve also observed that if I sometimes give her a cookie with dinner then sometimes she’ll eat it first but other times she won’t bother with it at all.

Our power struggles around dinner time are pretty manageable (they could certainly be much worse!). Her choices are to eat what’s been provided for dinner, or to have bread & butter, or to leave the kitchen and go play with her toys. I always ask her if she’s “All done” (and it was one of the Baby Signs that we regularly used); if she chooses to play then I’ll leave dinner out for 20-45 mins depending on how much she’s eaten and then check with her one final time before clearing it away. I’m not saying that there are no dinner time tantrums but it does kinda take the wind out of her sails that my response is to simply tell her that she can choose to go play if she wants to. I do find as well that I need to be really consistently firm that I’m not going to give her anything else for dinner and that ‘Yes, muesli bars are yummy and she can have one at snack time tomorrow but that’s not a dinner food’. It’s still frustrating though when I’ve spent ages cooking dinner and she decides that she’d rather wait for breakfast than try any!

Dinner time challenges

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I was discussing with other parents today some of the challenges of dinner time. Let’s face it, there can be a lot of them.

As a solo parent with a young toddler (who also the complication of health concerns) I find myself thinking about food a lot. I think about food far more than I did when I was a working professional and it really didn’t matter if I ate breakfast at my desk, had coffee for lunch, or ate Thai food for dinner at 9pm at night.  Now I find myself needing to plan 5 meals a day for her (two of those are actually snacks but in reality my toddler functions better with the option of 5 mini-meals rather than 3 larger ones); I have to really plan to our budget; there are time constraints around naps & schedules; there is much more of a focus on fruits & vegetables in my life; and I need to think about what behaviour & attitudes I’m modelling when it comes to food.

Honestly, I sometimes get really tired of planning meals! I long to click my fingers and have a genie (or Hugh Jackman) appear in my kitchen simply so that I could put them to work cooking, washing dishes, and mopping the floors for a day! I read rave reviews about schemes like MyFoodBag and can understand the simple joy of having all the ingredients, recipes, and planning delivered straight to your door. For a while this year I made a concerted effort to make one new recipe each week.  This effort has definitely tailored off but it has left me with a number of new recipes that I return to and more willingness to make myself experiment with them.

As a solo parent, my frustration (and exhaustion, and motherly guilt) is that there is only myself for the entire evening routine. There’s cooking dinner, feeding her, enforcing all the rules/boundaries about acceptable behaviour at dinner time (which can be exhausting in itself), cleaning the kitchen, washing (and drying and putting away) the dishes, giving her a bath, wrestling her into a nappy and pyjamas before the inevitable pee accident that will occur if I don’t, reading stories, and the lengthy process of trying to settle her down to sleep.  All of which can take 3-4 hours and requires convincing her for periods of that time to play independently. We now have a happy arrangement where she will largely play with her toys while I take care of the kitchen post-dinner but just as I finish and desperately want to sit and do nothing for 5 minutes, she decides that I simply must come and play dinosaurs or sing or read etc.  It would be nice, sometimes, to have an adult partnership that would allow her to receive more quality attention during that late afternoon/early evening period, and to have more adult division of labour for everything that needs to be done.  I daydream sometimes about someone else doing the dishes while I give her a bath, or being able to simply relax and dote on my wonderful child (from the comfort of another armchair) while someone else reads Dr Seuss for the umpteenth time.