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How to Get Your Toddler to Say Yes to Gluten Free

Celiac.com 04/27/2016 - Parents who want to give a gluten-free diet to their toddlers can face difficulties. It can be tricky when it comes to balancing the vitamins, minerals, and calories your child needs to thrive. Young kids who are used to other foods can become picky eaters as well. Parents have to look for foods which taste good, are healthy, and are interesting enough to overcome objections to the new diet.

Photo: pixabay.comIt's very important to consult with your child's doctor, nutritionists, available networks, and other experts, like Danna Korn, founder of R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids). Find people who have walked a similar path and can guide you to the best possible gluten-free diet for your children.

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Gluten-free food ideas for toddlers

  • Naturally mushy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables (ex. bananas, avocadoes, cooked sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes).
  • You can start the day by making a smoothie; using frozen fruits like oranges, strawberries, bananas, honey and gluten-free yogurt. Smoothies are a great place to hide needed supplements, and you can easily adjust the ingredients to suit the taste and nutritional needs of your toddlers.
  • Cream of rice can be another option for breakfast. You can add raisins, nuts, dried and frozen fruits and serve it with honey, fruit syrup, or brown sugar.
  • Making and eating apple sauce can be fun as well. Just cook peeled, cored apples in a sauce pan with some water and cook them until they are mushy. For extra sweetness, mash these apples, add brown sugar or drip some maple syrup before serving. You may even sprinkle some cinnamon or nutmeg for some nice flavor. Use other fruits like pears, apricots and peaches to make other sauces.
  • Eggs can be served in different forms. For example; scrambled, boiled, poached, deviled, fried, or even make egg salad.
  • Some of the vegetables can be added to the gluten-free menu as well. You can try making muffins using pumpkins or carrots. To give them a better form and shape, you can even use mini-muffin pans.
  • A home prepared macaroni and cheese can be very tasty and attractive to toddlers who consume dairy products. Make sure you're preparing it completely at home so it has controlled an amount of salt and other ingredients.
  • Consider sandwiches on gluten-free bread with fillings like egg salad, grilled cheese, or fresh lettuce. One of the most popular accompaniments of sandwiches is tomato soup: an easy side to whip up for dipping and sipping.
  • One of the all time favorites is rice pudding. If your toddler has a cow's milk allergy you can use rice milk or coconut milk.

The most important thing is to make sure that the diet you are giving to your toddler is safe, nutritionally appropriate, and uses ingredients that are easily available. Having the advice of your toddler's doctor and nutritionist is key.

It's not impossible and it does get easier with time. Like any life adjustment the beginning is the roughest. If you have an early diagnosis though, and you make it through the toddler years, you will be well on your way to making healthy, life-saving, choices for your child for years to come. 

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