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Help! Need Healthy Snacks to Keep a Toddler's Attention.

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi there,

 

(Sort of long) backstory: my MIL watches my DD (17 mo.) a few days a week while I work (the rest of the week she's with my mom) and has been for many months. Sometimes my MIL takes DD on a half-hour drive to visit GMIL (her own mother) and when they do they all go out to eat together. This is a really important ritual for MIL and GMIL. I thought having DD at the restaurant was going fine; I send snacks that she likes and she can always munch on a cucumber or tomato or something from MIL's salad. Then yesterday, out of the blue, MIL said, "Well, I do order her Kraft Mac-and-Cheese to keep her occupied. I hope you're not mad." yikes.gif I guess unless DD is really occupied by her food she wants MIL to walk around the restaurant with her, which I guess she doesn't want to do because then GMIL is left alone. 

 

We are EXTREMELY strict about DD's food, and Kraft Mac-and-Cheese is NOT ok. MIL knows that, but I'm not (very) mad, because she's being so generous to take DD and going out to eat with her mom is so important to her. I just wish she had come to me first and let me come up with an acceptable solution.

 

So my actual question is this:

 

What vegetarian snacks keep your LOs SUPER occupied? It could be a whole meal (that can be served cold) but doesn't have to be--I send a lunch that MIL heats up at GMIL's house. I thought munching on veggies or some dry cereal or whatever was enough to keep DD busy but apparently I need something that has that exciting factor that Kraft Mac-and-Cheese is such a master of. 

 

Thanks for reading this whole thing and thanks in advance for suggestions!

 

ETA: We do eat dairy, not not all the artificial/chemical stuff that's in Kraft products. 


Edited by annaknitsspock - 6/5/12 at 11:18am
post #2 of 11

You don't mention what exactly you don't like about it....one can only assume it's the "Kraft" and all their artificial ingredients (as opposed to the cheese and noodles themselves). If so then could you make your own version to take with them? When I was vegan I made really good mac&cheese using nutritional yeast and soy milk. There are loads of vegan mac&cheese recipes out there. You can also use gluten-free noodles if that is your concern.

Otherwise could your MIL just give your DD little snacks at home and save the meal you leave with her for the restaurant?

 

My DS (2 years old) likes all sorts of things that change from day to day it seems! But he does love noodles of all sorts, or sliced fruit (apples, bananas, and most any other fruit or berries). He used to like veggies more and still does sometimes (steamed carrot or broccoli, potatoes or sweet potatoes, cukes, etc). He loves hummus (s.times on toast or sometimes with a dipper like spelt cracker strips), or beans (plain or in another dish like a casserole), and a new fave is peanut butter. Or try little sandwiches or pancakes cut into tiny fun shapes with cookie cutters. We are always experimenting with food and his tasted do change rapidly. I would say just give your MIL a few different little Tupperware containers with various tastes (one fruit, one veggie, one grain-based thing, etc) so she can try them.

 

Good luck!
 

post #3 of 11

Oh and BTW for keeping occupied at a meal we always always bring toys and books. Little ones obviously but that does buy a little time, especially if your MIL doesn't want to get up and walk around with her. I remember when DS was your LO's age he loved looking at little board books in restaurants.

post #4 of 11

Does it have to be a food thing to occupy her? Honestly I don't like using food to occupy kids at all. I wouldn't be surprised if your dd now acts up in order to get the kd?

 

How about instead of food

-an etcha sketch or a megna doodle(of course the no name versions)

-beads and a string

-colouring books

-those markers that only show up on special paper

-toy cars

 

Could mil bring her lunch into the restaurant? or on days that you know they're going to a restaurant pack her a "picnic" lunch so she can bring little snacks to the restaurant and if its called a picnic it'll be tons more fun...or even make a veggie healthy mac and cheese and bring it in a little container or tell dd that she'll have her macaroni and cheese when they get home?

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi P.J. Thanks for the reply! I should have clarified, I guess: we definitely do noodles and cheese, we just don't do any artificial ingredients. I actually do send her mac-and-chese quite frequently--just all-natural, organic, and with whole grain pasta. If my MIL's going to bring the lunch meal to the restaurant (which is a good idea, you're right) I need to come up with some cold lunches. I mostly do just give her lots of different tupperware containers with different options, I'm just trying to get some really exciting ideas since what I send doesn't seem to be keeping DD's attention.

 

I LOVE these idea of sandwiches/pancakes in animal shapes! Thanks so much for the suggestions.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Both P. J. and Caiesmommy: I think you're definitely right--she needs more than food. She's finally got the hang of coloring, so that might help a lot. I love the idea of a picnic lunch, that's so cute! It's essentially what we do anyway, but I think framing it that way might up the fun factor. Thanks!

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by annaknitsspock View Post

If my MIL's going to bring the lunch meal to the restaurant (which is a good idea, you're right) I need to come up with some cold lunches.

 

Don't know about your DD, but my boy actually likes his noodles cold! Or, you could warm them up before hand (or not) and then by the time they get there they'd be room temp.

post #8 of 11

What worked for us when taking a toddler to a restaurant was ordering a bowl of ice cubes for her. Then she'd usually snack off of my plate.

 

That said, you've got a mess on your hands, because your LO is not going to understand why she can't have her yummy bowl of starch and chemicals. Seriously, breaking the restaurant mac-and-cheese habit has been the hardest thing for my daughter in going vegan (a change that was her own choice). The foods she misses are mostly the Kraft M&C from dinners out with Grandma, and strawberry-with-strawberries-sticking-out ice cream from a particular ice cream parlor - they have vegan ice creams, too, but not strawberry-with-strawberries-sticking-out. We make her vegan versions at home, and she and Grandma just stopped going to restaurants without me along. We mostly stick to Asian restaurants now, where we can get tofu and veggies for her. Sometimes Mexican for beans and rice.

post #9 of 11

Egg molds.  My kids will eat twice as many eggs, plus spend 5 minutes talking about the shape they're in if we use them.

post #10 of 11
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Edited by Anna Brophy - 6/5/12 at 1:07pm
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Sorry--the site keeps logging me out and logging me in via Facebook! 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by catnip View Post

That said, you've got a mess on your hands, because your LO is not going to understand why she can't have her yummy bowl of starch and chemicals.

 

Ugh, thank you Catnip. I'm really trying not to be all mad hippy DIL in this situation but it's so frustrating. Establishing DD's tastes and food preferences is such a huge deal to me--I'm not saying I'll never let her have treats but now, while she's young and doesn't know any better, I want to build her a foundation of healthy habits. Oh whoops, never mind, she's been eating Kraft Mac-and-Cheese for months. Not to mention that she's very picky, and my approved mac-and-cheese is kind of a staple for her. Luckily she hasn't started rejecting that yet in favor of the Kraft, but if it had gone on much longer? Who knows. Sorry to vent--I guess I'm a little intense when it comes to food. winky.gif What a mature, dedicated daughter you have! Good for her. Asian and other ethnic restaurants have been my natural companions for my whole vegetarian life.

 

That said, thanks for the ice idea and Honey693, I definitely see some molds in our future!

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