How can I expand my toddler's diet?

Q: My 15-month-old toddler will only eat applesauce, macaroni and cheese, and Cheerios. How can I expand his diet?

A: If your child refuses to eat what you're serving, don't force it. Accept his refusal, but don't automatically pull the Cheerios box out of the cabinet. Wait another hour or two until your child is hungry again, and offer the same meal. At that time he'll be more likely to eat it. If he still balks, give him a choice between the dinner foods and a simple, healthy alternative, like a cheese and tomato sandwich. This sends the message that you're still in charge of the food choices but are willing to work with your child to a certain extent. If you continue this routine, your child will eat other foods eventually; it just might take awhile.Letting your child participate in preparing meals can also lure him in. Ask him to add the salt and pepper to the soup or to pick out which tomato you'll use for the salad. There's also nothing like a little creativity to make foods more attractive. If you help your child arrange the vegetables into a smiley face or another simple picture on the plate, he may be more likely to eat it. --Gina Bevinetto Feld

Copyright 2007. Used with permission from the October 2007 issue of American Baby magazine. Updated 2009