Feeding time at the zoo


I always find it handy and interesting to read meal posts from other blogging mummas, particularly as toddlers seem to have a constantly changing palate that guarantees as soon as you've figured it out and mastered the art of sneaky vegetables, it shifts again and all the favourites are out the window.

I blogged months ago in September (http://goldcoastmumma.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/healthy-eating-for-little-people.html) about our healthy eating options for E so I thought I could follow up with what is working now and what are the necessary accessories in our house for meals.

Overall Ethan eats a pretty healthy diet and I do put a lot of thought into his meals and the choices we make with regards to his food. Its really important to me in this day of convenience and poor diet to instill a love of flavour and good fresh food in him with the hope of him developing a healthy balanced attitude towards food. I have never been one for diets (I'm just not that disciplined) and nor is Scott. We both enjoy almost everything in moderation and neither of us are huge sweets fans. We go through stages where a packet of chocolate biscuits can stay in our pantry untouched for months. Cheese would be our one big weakness and we love every kind available.

With what I believe is our own balanced attitude towards food, we plan Ethan's meals with consideration to everyday/all the time foods, sometimes foods and special occasion/treat foods. A few examples of what we practice:

  • We don't keep or have sweet biscuits at home (unless I have been baking) but my mum gives him Tiny Teddies or hundreds & thousands biscuits once a week when she has him. 
  • We go out for breakfast or morning or afternoon tea once a fortnight and on this occasion E is allowed to share my chocolate thickshake ... we often put it in a small cup for him to have his own. We often find that while he enjoys the treat, he loses interest after a few sips.
  • We don't eat jam generally and if its in the house, its for baking but my mother or mother in law will often give him a small piece of toast etc. that he enjoys.
  • We will share hot chips with him if out for lunch or dinner (maybe once a fortnight).
  • If we are out for dinner for a celebration and have dessert, we will share a few bites of ice cream with E.

We are not completely rigid about sugar etc as this possibly makes us seem but while I don't want to deprive Ethan of foods, I want him to understand the difference between everyday, sometimes and treats.

Ethan still suffers quite strongly from his silent acid reflux and while the Losec keeps it at bay for the most part, acidic foods are still likely to aggravate it and cause a flare up. For this reason we still keep his food relatively plain with no tomato based sauces or additives and minimal citrus and yoghurts. Scott and I traditionally eat a diet heavy in tomatoes so we've reduced that significantly so save on having to cook two meals a night in some instances.

E eats 3 meals a day and usually 2 snacks depending on his nap length and its timing.

Our day starts at 6am on average so E eats breakfast at 6:30/7:45am. A typical breakfast is a piece of fruit, usually a pear if in season otherwise it might be mango, blueberries or kiwi fruit (a huge hit) followed by a piece of raisin toast or vegemite or peanut butter toast and then a weetbix mixed with full cream milk and a mashed lady finger banana. He almost always eats the lot give or take a few slices of pear or mouthfuls of weetbix. On the weekend breakfast might include homemade pancakes with mashed banana, an omelette with mushroom ham and cheese or french toast. I'm looking to start E on breakfast smoothies too this month for those fussy mornings when he won't eat much and plan on trying out the blueberry, banana and fine spinach combo first - will let you know how it goes.

Morning tea is served around 9:30/10am and as I mentioned, due to his reflux, we limit yoghurt to a children's squeeze pouch every second day. We stick to vanilla as it tends to be the lowest in sugar. Other morning tea foods include watermelon, apple, cheese sticks or rounds, children's rice wheels, a couple of pretzels, dried apples or apricots, sultanas, sweet muffins or muesli slice if we have been baking - Scott made banana cinnamon sultana muffins this week.

Hopefully nap time is around 11/11:30am in which case lunch is 1:30/1:45pm and if at home, it will be a vegemite or peanut butter sandwich cut into fun shapes, a cheese toastie, a couple of mini quiches (see my recipes page), a homemade chicken sausage roll or a tin of tuna and some crackers followed by fresh fruit - he can't get enough of his fruit.

We serve up afternoon tea around 3:30pm and given E eats dinner around 5:15pm, we keep it light with a cracker and some of what he didn't have for morning tea (dried fruit, fresh fruit etc).

Dinner ... Scott and I have been trying to be more organised so that we can eat together around 3 times a week as a family ... this means stretching Ethan's dinner out to 5:30/6pm and us eating up to 90 minutes earlier than usual but it is nice to start this tradition of eating together and socialising after a day of work. Ethan prefers dinner at 5:15pm and tends to get a little temperamental if we veer to far off this schedule he has set in which case I always have frozen portions of food in the freezer. A normal dinner for E is a handful of steamed veg (a combination of 3 - peas, corn, carrot, broccoli, beans, cauli), some plain pasta shapes (I buy the dinosaur shapes for fun) which is hit and miss with him and a meat portion. The meat portion lately might be a fresh crumbed chicken tenderloin or bbq marinated rump skewer from our butcher, a pan fried lamb cutlet or lemon/garlic marinated piece of white fish, two chipolatas or two homemade mini rissoles packed with grated veg. This month I'm trying him on tuna mornay (making a batch tonight) so will be sure to post that recipe if its a hit. Dinners are always finished with his beloved favourite food of all, frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) - I just buy whichever type is on special that week, rinse them frozen in a cup to thaw slightly and serve. He loves the cold treat and will scoff as many as I will allow him, meticulously selecting first the blueberries then the raspberries and finally the blackberries.

I will note, we vary our bread each week from wholemeal, grain, rye and a little white thrown in all from the local bakery and E is not a fan of pasta or rice in any form (boiled, sauced, fried style) much to my shock and we don't eat a lot of potato so I trust he gets his good carbs from his bread and cereal intake. Not every night is perfect though... I also keep some chicken breast dinosaur shapes and crumbed vegetable sticks in the freezer as backup for when supplies are low and I haven't made it to the shops.

To keep meals relatively clean, comfortable and descending in to all out chaos, these are some of my must have products - many we have used from when E started solids:

feeding time
  • Tiny diner mat - these are absolutely brilliant and a must have for all parents. We use one at home at every meal and have another that goes wherever we do. Especially handy when out and the restaurant/cafe highchair has no tray or is pretty grotty looking.
  • Boon bowl - a great size, not too deep, it attaches to the table and has a decent lip to catch spills. We are especially appreciating the lip now E self-feeds.
  • Cutlery - we love the Boon set as the heads are flexible so great for bubs starting to self feed and learning how to angle the sppon/fork into their mouth as you can direct it before they start. We also have the small Hungry Caterpillar set and sometimes the only way we can get E to eat is by giving him cutlery.
  • Plastic cutters for fruit and sandwich shapes along with large Target sandwich cutters - I try to make meals fun for Ethan by cutting his sandwiches, fruit, cheese etc into shapes and I do up little bento style lunch boxes for his kindy days. He really responds well to the shaped food with squeals of delight ... last week we had watermelon stars and he picked them up holding them high and sung 'twinkle twinkle'! It was the cutest ever. Cheese in car shaped got a similarly popular reaction with him brrrmming them along his place mat. Things like this take a couple of extra minutes of prep but the reward is well worth it ... a smiling toddler and an empty plate.
  • Mocka highchair - I've spoken about this one before I'm sure. The Stokke and Leander were a little out of our price range originally but I loved the concept of having bub at the table and its multi-function. It looks great, E is happy enough in it and this one is under $100.
  • Splat mat - a must have under the highchair from day dot of starting solids! We got ours from Aldi for about $10. 
  • Ikea Antilop chair - my mum got this one for us and we keep it on our deck outside for when we BBQ or entertain. Its handy having two chairs for if one of my nieces is over and this one is as easy as they come to wipe clean or hose off.
  • Mocka table and chairs  this was one of E's Christmas presents that I bought earlier in the year on sale. I love its simplicity, it takes up relatively little space and includes backed chairs. E eats at a table like this at kindy and at my mum's house so we are starting his snack times here at home and encouraging him to sit there for other activities like drawing. We've tried dinner and lunch there but so far its been a fail as he will eat a bite then get up and roam then peck again. Side note, my mum has a gorgeous solid heavy wooden pine set that is so sturdy but it just didn't work in our house.
  • Smock bibs - another must have for starting solids and beyond. They save having to bath baby after every meal and are great when you're out and don't want to have to change bub out of a ruined outfit after the meal. 

Well there is my latest run down on food, meal times and accessories with an 18 month old. Any tips or hints  or go to recipes you can add?

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  1. Sounds like you guys have a pretty similar philosophy to us.. We try to eat pretty healthily at home and don't have much junk in our house. But we are more relaxed when we eat out.. I love hot chips and milkshakes too, so seems a bit hypocritical to deny them that if that's what I'm eating! At kids parties I just let them go nuts as it's too hard trying to be strict in those situations.

    I know what you mean about the changing palate of toddlers! One weeks favourite is repulsive the next! So frustrating!

    Mine are going gang busters on whole meal crumpets at the moment.. They're good because you can squish the avocado or whatever right into the holes and it is easy for the baby with his four teeth haha!

    Another lover of the antilop! We have one for inside and one for outside too. Love the ease with which this can be hosed off :)

    1. Lol I warned my sis when she was starting solids that its just exhausting feeding these little people! So much to remember, think and of and it only gets harder when they're toddlers and you slave to prep their food only to have them spit it all out and throw it across the table... fun times :) x

  2. Mexican oil tablecloths/splash mats are a popular device in this house. Heaps of pretty designs and you just wipe clean. I got mine from Me to please. Com.au https://www.metooplease.com.au/index.php?page=shop.browse&category_id=47&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=82&vmcchk=1&Itemid=82


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