Most websites define toddlers as children aged between 12 to 36 months and I’m going by that definition here. By the time babies turns one, they know how to hold a spoon and will attempt to eat food by their own. At this stage, they become interested in what they are eating and the texture of that food. This is the right time to get them to like the right kind of food. Trust me you, it is extremely difficult to reform an adult to eat all vegetables if s/he is a fussy eater. My husband just will not eat sabzis like bottle gourd, snake gourd, red pumpkin, methi (fenugreek)— the list is long so I’ll stop here. ;-) But Devansh, who is almost two, relishes all these veggies and more. If you want your child to eat all vegetables, gradually introduce them in his/her diet one by one. Make your sabzis watery and soak chapatis in them for a 3-4 minutes before you feed them to your child. Remember, your child still may not be able to chew chunks of sabzis, or leaves of green vegetables properly. So cut the sabzis in small pieces and chop the green vegetables really fine. Each child develops at a different pace, so let your child’s developmental stage provide you cues about the texture of food. But you do want your child to start chewing food instead of just swallowing it. I have heard stories from moms who needed to give finely mashed food to their children till as late as three. So gradually start giving him/her food with coarser texture.
These days a lot of parents send their child to preschool as early as at 18 months. Within a few weeks the kids are expected to eat their own tiffins. Now if your child is used to having mashed food like khichdis and daal chawal, s/he is going to have a tough time. I know Devansh wasn’t ready at 18 months. He still doesn’t like eating dry stuff. He prefers his food warm and slightly soft. He likes his chapatis with gravy-wala sabzis and his rice with daal or curds. Now I’m slowly getting him to eat parathas with curds or ketchup, and dry snacks like ladoos and some healthy (sugar- and refined flour-free) ready-made items like nachni (ragi) chips.
I introduced dairy in Devansh’s diet after he turned one. So I have labeled recipes that use milk or curds as an ingredient as “Food for one year old baby”. You can start giving your li’l one curd rice, kheers etc earlier if you have started giving cow/buffalo milk and curds to your child before s/he has turned one. Please note that I have provided age-wise labels for my recipes based on my experience. I would request you to use your judgment in deciding the right time to feed your child these foods.
To view recipes suitable for preparing food for toddlers, click here.