Nutrition for Kids | Toddler at the Table

As part of the Essential Series we are offering up Toddler at the Table, a nutrition workshop by Kristen Yarker of Vitamin K Consulting.

Interview with Kristen

Kristen Yarker, Image

What made you decide to be a dietitian?

I’m lucky in that I knew that I wanted to work where food and health meet since I was a teenager. I was a picky eater as a child myself. But I also was what we now call a “foodie”. I remember feeling a special magic when we would go to the farmers market with my family. And, all my favourite memories of my grandmother involve food – such as sitting in her kitchen while she made me applesauce (which was warm and pink).

What do you love most about your work?

Ooh, that’s an easy question! What I love about my work is knowing that I’m helping families have quality family time at meals and that I’m helping them raise kids who will have life-long healthy eating habits.

What are the most common challenges new moms face when it comes to feeding their toddlers?

Most moms come to my workshops or reach out to me for an in-home session because they’re worried that their toddlers aren’t getting the nutrition they need because they’re eating so few foods. Often their kids would eat a wide variety of foods when they were babies, but then something changed and now they’ll only eat a handful of foods.

Mealtimes are now anxious and high-stress occasions where parents are either constantly negotiating or battling with their kids or they’ve given up on the battle and are making their kids the same dishes every night (in addition to the meal for themselves). Neither strategy feels right to these moms so they contact me to find a better solution.

What do moms tell you about their success after attending one of your workshops?

Instead of me telling you what moms have said, here’s an example from a mom (in their own words):

I just wanted to email and say thank you! My stress and anxiety surrounding Louise’s eating has gone from a 10 to a 2 in a matter of weeks!

Before attending your workshop mealtimes with my toddler were a nightmare. Throwing food, tears (hers and mine) and frustration! It was at the point where she would only eat boxed noodles, toast and milk. She was rejecting everything, including old favourites and all fruits and vegetables. I was so confused and hurt, and also anxious about her health. She had been such a good eater! I tried to convince her to ‘just take one more bite’ or bribed her with the promise of her favourite foods. I’m not an anxious person or parent – but this was a serious daily stressor!

Your plan is so simple and I don’t want to jinx it – but it worked as if by magic! I told her what was happening and then took on my role as planner, preparer and provider. Without my persistent begging her to eat, Louise tried new foods, ate her meals without tossing them! It is a lot of work but the pay off is huge!

Today at lunch she tried broccoli! She didn’t eat much but she tried it with no fuss! It was so hard not to do a happy dance! And she actually asks for more cucumber! A green vegetable! We still have a long way to go but it’s so much better.

It’s a lot of work with 2 kids but we have had more family dinners, great conversations and quality time together as a result of organized meal planning. ~Kathleen*

*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality

Are there certain tastes or textures that are always challenging for toddlers? Can you give us one tip about how to deal with this?

Every child is different. The food that one child won’t eat, will be another child’ s favourite.

It’s important to not have a preconceived idea about what your child will or won’t like.

I see so many parents who won’t offer a child a food because they believe that their child won’t like it. Or, they put a food in front of a child and say something along the lines of: “I don’t think that you’ll like this, but give it a try.” Talk about a self-fulfilling prophesy!

Repetition is key. The more times a child sees a food, and sees you eating it, the more likely she/he is to try it.

Also, just because your child doesn’t like a food prepared in one way, it doesn’t mean that they won’t like it prepared in a different way. For example, if your child didn’t like (or didn’t want to try) steamed broccoli, it doesn’t mean that they won’t like it raw, or in a stir-fry, or in a casserole. If broccoli is a food that you eat in your family, continue serving it. You never know when the magical day will arrive that your child will try (and maybe even like) it.


For information on other workshops offered please go to our event listings.


Thank you to our venue host and to our food sponsor.

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Cobs Bread







And thank you to our media sponsor.



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