Wednesday, 23 November 2011

When toddlers refuse meals

Photo courtesy: SBV
We mums (and dads) agonise when our kids "just won't eat". For some, it lasts for a few days and then they have a few "normal" eating days and the cycle begins again. For most of us Maldivian parents, a normal meal would mean rice/roshi thoroughly mixed with garudhiya/a mild curry (ususally with veggies and a meat/fish). And we tend to feed our kids ourselves till they are at least preschoolers.

My son started this when he started teething, around 10/11 months. He's 18 months now and it still continues on and off. I've come to expect this, but however prepared I am, it's never easy to deal with. I noticed that although he refuses meals, he still liked to nibble on things - bits of cheese, bread, etc. I believe most kids do this. I've seen many a mum and grandma running after toddlers trying to feed a bit of roshi dipped in rihaakuru or something similar, when they refuse normal meals.

So if they like to nibble and not eat, why not give them something to nibble on, and make it nutritious? Here are some really simple ideas:

1. Goodness-Packed Omelette
    Finely slice and cook a few vegetables of choice.
    Add a cooked meat, finely chopped (tuna or a bit of chicken).
    Mix these together with one egg (blend veggies and meat finely for a baby)
    Heat a bit of butter/olive oil on a saucepan, pour the mixture, and viola! you
    have a nutritious meal replacement.
    Variants: Include some carbohydrate in the meal by adding chopped and boiled
                   potatoes in the mixture.
                  Add some cheese.

2. Patties
    Finely slice and cook a few vegetables of choice.
    Add a cooked meat, finely chopped (tuna or a bit of chicken).
    Mix these together (blend veggies and meat finely for a baby)
    Shape into balls and flatten to make patties
    Dip into egg, then breadcrumbs, and shallow fry.

A vegetable patty with chickpeas
 3. Veggie Kulhi Boakiba
    Make a milder version of kulhi boakiba mix.
    Add finely chopped vegetables.
    Bake like a normal kulhi boakiba. 
    You can find a yummy traditional kulhi boakiba recipe here.

   Chilles and Lime also has a toddler-friendly, super easy quesadilla recipe.

You can cut these into bits and leave them for him/her to eat. If you do not try to force feed them, usually curiosity gets the better of them and they'll start to nibble on.

It's best to start with these alternatives early on, for example, when they start teething. This way, they are less suspicious of these food. Make sure you try different looks and tastes for these nibbling recipes, so that the easily-bored toddler doesn't get bored!


  1. something my children enjoy as nibbles is home-made spiced chickpeas. i just wash a can of chickepeas, mix in some olive oil, a dash of (mild) spices and herbs and put in a low oven for about an hour... they come out dried and perfect for nibbles.

    just thought i'd share!

    and thanks for your sweet comment over at my place earlier :)

  2. i do make spiced chickpeas, but have never done them in the oven like you have described. sounds nice, i'll try it. thanks, kamana :)