Picky Eating: Getting Your Child to Eat Mixed Textures

Do you have any suggestions on things to serve a two-year-old who won't eat anything with mixed textures? My toddler says no to anything with chunks in it, like thick sauces or casseroles.

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Your child's behavior is very typical. Toddlers are separatists when it comes to food. They like each food served by itself -- their noodles in one pile and the sauce in a side bowl -- and they frequently turn up their noses at things like casseroles and sauces with chunks in them. Quite often, they don't like different foods touching on the plate either.

Fortunately, this is something children eventually grow out of (I don't know any adults who insist that their spaghetti sauce and meatballs do not touch their noodles). Until then, the best thing to do is to respect this behavior and not make a fuss about it.

In the meantime, here are some suggestions for toddler-appropriate foods that do not mix textures. Don't be surprised if along with this separatist attitude, your child also has a limited number of foods she will accept. This is also common in toddlers.

• Chunks of soft cheese
• Cooked macaroni noodles
• Soft cooked sweet potato sticks
• Tofu chunks
• Orange sections
• Banana wheels
• Cheerios
• Bagels
• Muffins
• Ripe avocado chunks
• Ripe papaya chunks
• Strawberries
• Raspberries
• Kiwi chunks
• Cooked peas
• Tender cooked broccoli florets
• French toast sticks
• Chopped hard-boiled egg
• Scrambled egg
• Pancakes
• Banana bread cut into small pieces
• Mini meatballs
• Creamed soups
• Milkshakes
• Applesauce
• Smooth pudding
• Instant baby cereal sweetened with banana puree
• Mashed squash
• Vanilla yogurt

Hopefully these ideas have given you some inspiration. However, patience will probably serve you better than inspiration. Children don't always appreciate our attempts to bring variety into their diets, but it is important that we keep trying!

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