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While your taste buds may prefer the good old home cooking of savory stews and hearty soups, your toddler may not agree. In fact in the second year of life, the issue of what to eat or not to eat is where your child begins to exert some form of independence.

While your tiny tike is getting a brush with freedom due to changes in emotional and motor development, sitting still is nearly next to impossible. Instead of eating, your toddler would rather roam around the house and explore. Also keep in mind that while in the first year of life a baby’s birth weight triples, after the first birthday, weight gain slows down considerably. The general rule of thumb is that between your child’s first and second birthday, normal toddler weight increases by only one-third or less.

So what’s a parent to do? Be creative. Remember that when feeding your toddler, being inventive at mealtime will less likely make eating time a battleground.

Nutritional Needs: Toddlers need an average of between 1,000 and 1,300 calories daily from one to two years of age. However, your child will most likely not fulfill this requirement every day. The bottom line here is don’t be concerned with daily intake, rather chart the nutritional course of your child over the period of one week.

Children who are picky eaters tend to eat in small quantities, so remember to pack a diet with nutrient rich foods including cheese and eggs. Fruits, vegetables and pastas should also be included on the menu.

The Nibble Tray: Ever feast your eyes on a buffet table? Maybe the next time you venture out for one of those “eat all you can” deals, take a digital camera along with you so you’ll remember why the food looked so appealing. Was it because of the way it was arranged?

For your child, the way the food is presented can may all the difference in the world, too. There is a distinction, however, between you and your little one; bite sized pieces will do just fine. Creative shapes and names may also make your nibblers coming back for more.

Here are a few healthy ideas: avacados, cheese blocks, banana bites, boiled eggs, pasta pieces. You might even make your child a smoothie. You can pack all sorts of vitamins and minerals into that!