5 Tips for Mealtime with a Toddler

I feel like I’m constantly reading “tips” articles or whole books, dedicated to helping me to navigate the hectic, tiring, hilarious and fulfilling job of parenting a toddler. One of the areas that I’ve needed a lot of coaching, is mealtime.

My daughter Harper is a bit of a comedian. When we’re running low on time, it always seems like that’s when she decides that she’s going to do nothing but joke around at the table. At first, I found it difficult to keep her focused, but I’ve developed some skills in the toddler mealtime department- so below are my top 5 tips for feeding a toddler.

1) Offer Choices. I had heard this one before- mainly just in reference to vegetables (and it amazingly, DOES really work for vegetables! See the original article I read on babble here). But when I say offer choices, I mean from meal planning “Harper, do you want waffles with blueberries today or bananas and cheerios?” “Do you want chicken and broccoli or soup (anything even remotely liquid-y is “soup” at this point) to sitting at the table deciding what to eat first (or even which piece of chicken to eat).

I’ve noticed that by actively engaging with her, and making the meal about her choices, she’s more likely to eat than goof around. Of course, not every meal plan is based on Harper’s decisions (I’m not a short-order cook!) and that’s ok- even when the choices are small (like which fork to use today), it works!

Mealtime tips for toddler2) Allow them to experiment. Yes, as adults, we KNOW that broccoli dipped in ketchup MUST taste awful. But for a toddler who’s just learning about food, this combination seems perfectly reasonable, and potentially delicious. I had read somewhere that allowing your kids to be adventurous with their food early makes them more open to trying new things later- so when my daughter decided to dip her broccoli into her ketchup, I decided to let her go for it. To my surprise, she kept doing it… and finished her broccoli. So my new motto is, as long as its not dangerous- go ahead and try it!

3) Hold the milk. My daughter is obsessed with milk. I’m pretty sure she would drink a gallon a day if I let her, so its become increasingly important to only serve water with dinner. If I give her milk, she WILL drink it all before touching her food and she WILL request more because she’s used to having a beverage with her meal. Offering water allows her to focus on the food while still having something to wash down her ketchup-covered broccoli with.

4) Make Healthy Foods fun. We’ve embraced the smoothie bandwagon at our house. We’ve worked everything from kale to soy milk, to blueberries to spinach into our smoothies, and refer to them as ‘milkshakes’. Harper loves them.

Are we lying to her? No. There’s milk in there (soy milk). So they’re sort of “milkshakes”. But the point is, she’s enjoying a treat and we know that she’s getting the vitamins she needs. Its a win-win.

Along the same lines, but another great discovery: it really does help to refer to broccoli as “trees” and play a game where your kiddo pretends to be a dinosaur eating the “trees”. Whoever came up with that is brilliant!

5) The classics are still good. Does every meal time need to be well thought-out and restaurant-quality? No. Don’t put pressure on yourself to win Top Chef at every meal. Sometimes, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich really is the perfect lunch. And sometimes, grilled cheese and chicken soup is just what the doctor ordered. In my opinion, these old standards are necessities in the mealtime rotation- both for my sanity, as well as in the name of being a kid!

Got anything to add? What makes mealtimes work in your house? Do you have any great toddler-friendly recipes to share?

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

What’s For Dinner Wednesday – Cream Cheese Chicken

So this past weekend we had my sister-in-law over, along with her husband. And I was determined to make something amazing for dinner. Typically, we’d just go out to dinner when we have guests, but I’ve been feeling the urge to cook lately, so I went on a hunt for a great slow cooker recipe, and I found one for Cream Cheese Chicken. Yum!

I went out and bought the ingredients at a local grocery store, and was super psyched to learn that I could buy the onion pre-diced (I’m one of those people who cry excessively when chopping onions). In addition to my pre-chopped onions, I bought the rest of the ingredient list:

4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 package (1 ounce) Italian salad dressing mix

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup chopped onion

1 can (10 3⁄4 ounces) condensed low-fat cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 bag (10 ounces) frozen broccoli florets, thawed

1 package (8 ounces) low-fat cream cheese, cubed

1⁄3 cup dry sherry

1 box of fettucine

I’m not a whiz in the kitchen, but the instruction were really easy to follow. Find them below:

  1. Toss chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle with Italian salad dressing mix. Place in 5-quart CROCK-POT® slow cooker. Cover; cook on Medium for 1.5 hours.
  2. Coat large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Add mushrooms and onion; cook 5 minutes over medium heat or until onions are tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add soup, broccoli, cream cheese and sherry to skillet; cook and stir until hot. Transfer to the crock pot and mix with the chicken. Cover; cook on LOW 1 hour. Serve chicken and sauce over pasta.

I had added some extra sherry (I like lots of sauce rather than less, thicker sauce) and I switched up the cooking times a bit because the chicken seemed like it was done early, but you can check out the original recipe here.

It was SOOOO good. I love my crock pot! I was able to cook while hanging out with company at the same time. So easy!

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday – Oven Fried Chicken

I love the internet. I love that I can decide what I am feeling like for dinner, do a quick search, and find a new and inspiring way to cook an “old” standard. My most recent find is a recipe for Oven Fried Chicken.

I’ve always been a fan of fried foods. Now that I’m in my 30′s though, those foods have been catching up to me- so in addition to finding new ways to cook old favorites, its also become about finding healthier ways to cook old favorites, which is why this Oven Fried Chicken recipe was perfect for dinner last night.

So what are you going to need to whip up some healthy fried chicken?

  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, plus 2 whole sprigs
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 pounds bone-in skinless chicken legs and thighs
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread, (3-ounces)
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Got everything? OK- now check out the rest of the recipe on foodnetwork.com to get instructions! While you’re there, search for a healthy new way to cook up your favorite dish and share it in the comments section below!

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday – Baked Macaroni and Cheese

We keep meals pretty healthy at my house– most of the time. Every once in a while though, its nice to splurge on some serious comfort food, and its been cold and dreary outside lately, which made me crave some seriously creamy, cheesy macaroni. After some searching, my husband found a recipe that resulted in mac and cheese that was truly delicious, and worth the splurge!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 package of elbow macaroni
  • 8 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup shredded Muenster cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups of half and half
  • 8 ounces of Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • a little bit of pepper

And here’s how to do it:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the oil and pasta and cook for as long as stated on the package of macaroni. Melt 8 tbsp. of butter, and pour over the drained macaroni and mix in a large  mixing bowl. Combine all the shredded cheeses in a separate bowl. Add the half and half, all but 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese mixture, the Velveeta and the eggs to the macaroni, and mix. Transfer to a large casserole dish and top with a bit of pepper, and the final 1/2 cup of shredded cheese mix. Bake for 35 minutes until hot and bubbling around the edges.

I like my macaroni cheesy, so I upped the cheese on the recipe above- the original recipe can be found here:

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

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