Your baby is about two years old. What you have now on your hands is an oversensitive version of what you are going to have on your hands the rest of your life. Kids have now outgrown the mollycoddling stage that used to be there for kids of this age, say, fifty years ago. Today’s kids graduate from infant to young people, leaving out the toddler and baby stage, so do not follow anything that your mother did to you when you were two and a half. Probably that went extinct a whole decade ago.
Coming back to food, children are teething earlier with every generation, they are developing their tastes much earlier and worse, learning to take decision far earlier, like at two and a half. It is called the terrible twos, mostly for the sizeable tantrums thrown at this age, but more for the strength of identity that is built up, making the parent feel really dwarfed.
Food takes a beating in the process but the best thing to do is to stick to your guns. Force-feeding will only create more mess to clean, scolding or hitting will get more stubborn responses. Giving in to a tantrum meekly will ensure a bully in the house. When at the dining table, try to avoid any anger. Food, healthy, nutritious homemade food has to be eaten; soft drinks, chips, burgers and pizzas are for outings, not on a regular basis. The child has to be very clear about who’s the boss. Never, ever, give in to unreasonable demand like; I want to eat pizza, nothing else. If anything, put across that the meal has to be finished before anything else comes in. Food can become a major issue if it is made one.
Make interesting food
To keep the little prodigal on the string, try making interesting looking things like sandwiches with great looking, colourful fillings. Soups with great looking, fascinating garnish like a sprinkling of boiled egg yolk over it, fruit purees (except citrus) in milk shakes, if pizzas are on the favorites list, try making them at home with varieties of toppings. A whole lot of vegetables, even boiled meat with liberal dashes of sauce and cheese on an ordinary pizza base will ensure a scrumptious teatime. But then again, nothing would beat a plateful of home food, at least one leafy vegetable, one dal (sprouted if possible), curds and Roti or rice according to appetite.
Curds are a better source of protein than milk, more easily digestible for the child. So if there is a milk time problem, switch to more interesting beaten curds with fruit pulps during summer and maybe Paneer/cheese during winters. Stews are again in, specially for winters, with meat. Chicken is almost always an appreciated meat. Try not to get the child habituated to fried snacks, coffee or too spicy food. Even if it the family’s traditional cooking, remember that with each passing generation, eatables are losing their natural wholesomeness and the human body is getting more acclimatized to a sedentary lifestyle. Digesting violent foods like chillies and excessive oil could create a problem of the tender liver and lead to disorders.
This age is the dawn of consciousness, of recognition and awareness, habits formed now will never die, so ensure a disciplined eater, it will also make your life as a mother, a lot easier.