Toddler Meal Ideas

toddler meal ideas
Creating toddler meal ideas, which encourage a toddler to actually sit down and eat, is one of the many issues parents have when raising active and picky toddlers. Since two and three years old also love to feed themselves, meals should be made of small pieces of food that a toddler can pick up and safely eat.

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Feeding Toddler Ideas

Reasons why most toddlers are picky eaters concern developmental causes. After almost tripling their size during the first year of life, toddlers experience a slowdown in growth between one and three years of age. Because they are not growing as quickly, they simply don't need the amount of food they once required.

In addition, toddlers are extremely curious and restless little people, with brains that demand to be constantly stimulated. Sitting down and eating is the last thing on their minds, which is why toddler meal ideas should be oriented around bite size and easy for them to pick up foods.

You should understand that the eating habits of toddlers are not something they understand and control. They just know that when they are hungry, they can eat just enough to eliminate that hungry feeling and be on their busy way again without interrupting their exploration of the world too much.

Food and the Toddler

It is common for toddlers to binge on one kind of food or almost no food for several days at a time. He may only want meat one day, fruit the next and practically nothing but juice to drink the next. Normal toddlers generally require about 1300 calories per day, but probably don't get that.

Try looking at their eating from five or six days as a whole. Don't stress about their daily intake too much if your toddler is growing and healthy. If there is a concern of course talk to your family doctor.

Toddler Eating Tips 

  1. Chopped bites of dry food tend not to stay on a spoon when toddlers are involved in manipulating the spoon by themselves. So, if your toddler likes to use a spoon, chopped pieces of food can be mixed with fruit-flavored or plain Greek yogurt so the food will remain on the spoon.
  2. Try feeding snacks and meals in a muffin tray. Most kids will like having their food separated and find it fun using the little compartments in a tray. 
  3. Try cooking products like a FunBites that will cut your food in fun bite size pieces.
  4. Change up meal times with different colored plates, fun toddler silverware or colorful placemats.
  5. Keep it simple when planning food. Using silicone cups, you can organize categories of food easily like protein, vegetables, fruit and grains.
  6. Get your children involved with small jobs in the kitchen. This will help them gain more interest in what they are eating. See our toddler in the kitchen ideas.
toddler meal ideas in silcone cupsToddler Meal Ideas in this Picture include: chopped watermelon, vegetable mix, chopped ham, cooked diced carrots, chopped boiled eggs, blueberries, chopped strawberries, cooked chopped broccoli, cooked diced chicken, stir fry vegetables with turkey and rice, tomato soup, cubed toast, shredded cheese, broccoli with cheese and ham cubes

25 Toddler Food Ideas

  • Boiled eggs cut in slices
  • Cheese cubes or strips
  • Tomato and cucumber salad cut in small pieces
  • Olives cut in slices
  • Tortilla wraps cut into slices
  • Mini pancakes or waffles
  • Mini muffins
  • Fruit of various types cut in slices or cubes
  • Grilled chicken strips
  • Tuna on crackers
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Cooked peas and carrots mix
  • Cooked broccoli or cauliflower
  • Raisin and cereal mix
  • Bread with nut butter or jam
  • Toasted bread with melted cheese on top
  • Yogurt dip with fruit slices
  • Vegetable dip with small pieces of cut vegetables
  • Sandwiches cut with small cookie cutters
  • Blueberries or raspberries
  • Fruit or green smoothies
  • Homemade fruit popsicles
  • Small pasta shapes cooked and mixed with vegetable mix
  • Applesauce
  • Scrambled eggs

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Nibble, Nibble, Nibble

Toddler meal ideals should be based on one concept--nutritious snacks that are offered throughout the day rather than three big meals. Like a cow or sheep roaming a field and grazing at will, toddlers also prefer to live this way and feel frustrated when they are not allowed to indulge in this behavior. They also get bored quickly because of that information-absorbing brain and need variety to keep their attention.

Fun Toddler Food

With the busy toddler in mind, here are some food ideas, which may entice your toddler to pick up a piece of food and pop it in his mouth (with a little encouragement from you)
  • Thinly sliced apple pieces (shaped like moons) surrounded by thinly sliced carrots (shaped like planets)
  • Pieces of avocado (they look like boats) on a bed of blue jello cubes
  • Broccoli pieces or "trees"
  • Banana slices (drizzle a little chocolate on them so they look like wheels)
  • Cheese cubes (stack them on top of one another and eat them quickly before they fall)
  • Celery with peanut butter (have the toddler pretend to be a builder who fills the "cracks" of the celery with peanut butter
After offering the snacks, leave the tray where your child can easily reach for a bite when he wants one. Also,get your toddlers involved in meals by letting them stir batter or add in ingredients. They may even want to help in preparing the snacks. Here are more ideas on getting your toddlers involved in the kitchen!

Blood sugar is another factor in toddler behavior. When a toddler goes a long time without eating (around two or more hours) his behavior becomes unpredictable and more "toddler-like". This is because their blood sugar level has become unstable and is lower than it should be.

Allowing your toddler to graze during most of the day to keep that metabolism busy burning food, and his behavior may remain more stable and less moody. Just by understanding how your toddler's mind and body works, makes toddler meal ideas much easier to create.

Toddler Meal Ideas Video

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