Transitioning your toddler to table food can be a scary and messy process that many moms battle with.
Going from the ease and uniformity of the bottle or breast to finding which solid food options are going to be thrown in your hair or eaten is stressful.
It’s not easy for your toddler either though. All the new tastes and textures can be intimidating for their immature palate.
With the right foods and combinations there is always something that your blossoming food connoisseur will find delightful.
Here we have the top 10 meals, a combination of breakfast, lunch, and dinner that toddlers find amusing and tasty.
Recipes are adapted from Yourkidstable.com, and can be varied to what you have on hand; for example, you can switch a melon for orange slices, or cucumbers for zucchini.
Remember to cut food items in small, easy to chew pieces to prevent a choking hazard.
Feel free to experiment with various dips for meals, like salsa, tzatziki, or yogurt to make the meal more fun and hands on.
Aim to provide 1,000-1,400 calories a day, including all the food groups. Grains, fruits, vegetables, and proteins are among the essentials.
Now, to the platters that will give your toddler a new interest in this game we call meal time.
1. Yogurt, granola, and banana
You can sprinkle the granola on top, or mix it in with the yogurt. If you do the latter you can let it sit for a few minutes to allow the granola to soften, making it easier for little teeth to chew.
Slice the banana on the side. They will have the option to eat it plain, or dip it into the yogurt mix.
If you prefer dairy-free options because of allergies, or diet preferences, there is soy, coconut, or almond yogurts that have the healthy bacteria in them just like dairy yogurt.
2. Bagel spread, cream cheese, and melon
No need to toast the bagel for a toddler, when it is fresh from the bag it is softer which many toddlers prefer.
Spread cream cheese, or mashed avocado on the bagel for flavor and nutrition. Make sure to cut up the bagel to teach proper bite portions.
Add a vitamin rich diced fruit on the side like melon or oranges, your toddler will likely look at this as a dessert.
Sprinkle chia seeds or flax seeds on top of the bagel spread for those hard to get omega fats that are super foods to a rapidly developing little mind.
3. Quesadilla with cheese, sweet peppers, and beans
Sprinkle some cheese on a whole wheat tortilla and fry it in a pan for a few minutes on each side until the cheese is melted.
Cut the quesadilla into wedges, dice the peppers on the side, and add protein rich beans, such as black beans or refried beans.
If those fun fingers like to stay busy you can try salsa or sour cream on the side as a dip.
As your toddler gets accustomed to textures, you can try adding veggies inside the quesadilla, but adding them too early may scare your children off.
4. Soup, a pretzel, and diced melon
There are many healthy choices when it comes to soup. Look for a variety that is pureed rather than chunky, and has minimum sodium.
Broccoli and butternut soups are good options. Make sure the soup has cooled completely through before handing it over, and add a straw to make clean up a bit more bearable.
A baked pretzel is a softer variety that is fun and tasty. If you don’t have those on hand, any whole grain bread side will do.
Dice melon, oranges, or strawberries on the side. This gives vitamins, minerals, and splash of alluring color to the plate.
5. Hummus, crackers, and avocado
If you haven’t discovered the wonder of hummus yet, you are in for a real surprise. Hummus is pureed chickpeas with oil, and oftentimes herbs.
This already smooth food carries no worries of choking, and has healthy fats and protein to boot.
You can dip nearly any cracker or vegetable in hummus, but veggie chips are a house favorite.
For a boost of amino acids, add chopped avocado on the side. Adding a fruit would also add some color, making the meal more enticing to the stimulated eye.
6. Mini burgers, sweet potato fries, and melon slices
Mini burgers can be served on a whole grain bun, or chopped up to dip in ketchup.
And meat doesn’t have to be the only burger you serve, veggie varieties offer protein and flavor as well.
Baking sweet potatoes in a small French fry or chip shape will give another fun item to dip into ketchup (another hidden vegetable source).
If you are short on time, you can use a healthy oil, such as grape seed, to try the sweet potatoes on the stovetop.
Melon slices give you another fruit serving that will help all that heavier food digest better.
7. Nuggets, mashed potatoes, and strawberries
Most kids will go wild over chicken nuggets, but there are other nutrient rich versions of nuggets that can pack an extra punch.
Putting broccoli, beans, and bread crumbs in a food processor, and then baking them until hardened can provide a quick veggie nugget that has protein and vegetables in every bite.
Make a big batch of mashed potatoes for the week that you can add to toddler meals for an easy to eat source of energy.
Strawberries are a good fruit choice here, but go with whatever fruit you have on hand.
8. Falafel, tzatziki sauce, and diced cherry tomatoes
Falafel is a Mediterranean diet staple. This garbanzo bean based fried ball is a good protein source and is great for dipping or putting into a mini pita.
Stuffed pitas can be hard for a little mouth to get down, so wedging some pita slices on the side may be a better option.
The flavorful yogurt and cucumber dip, called tzatziki sauce tastes great with the full flavor of falafel.
Diced tomatoes are a refreshing vitamin rich side item that can be sprinkled with salt if your toddler doesn’t immediately enjoy them.
9. Hard boiled egg, crackers, and carrot sticks
Chop up a hard boiled egg, add some crackers on the side and you have your protein and carbohydrate taken care of. Eggs are easy to eat and versatile, making them a good toddler food.
When serving carrots in the toddler years, it is best to shed them or cut them into the size of a matchstick.
Many moms attest that any food can be eaten by a toddler when it is matchstick size. You can experiment this with your little one under close supervision.
10. Zucchini bread, yogurt dip and raisins
Baking zucchini bread is fun for the whole family. To make it on the healthier side for toddler meal time, reduce the sugar used, or swap it out all together and sweeten with fruits.
Add a variety of vegetables to the bread to sneak in foods that may be hard for your toddler to eat plain, like pumpkin and carrots.
Putting the raisins on the side rather than baked into the bread will reduce extreme texture variations, and give busy fingers something else to pick at.
Raisins are a good iron source, and the yogurt dip provides calcium and good bacteria to keep your tot in tip top shape.
You can swap out veggies or fruit for their preference, but toddler taste buds are always changing so keep trying new things.
One day they may throw the peas, and the next it may be their favorite food. Try to not give in to resorting to processed or sugary snack for meals because your toddler is picky.
If it seems that the first plate of food you provided isn’t satisfying that growing tummy, then you can always give more fruits and vegetables.
Remember not to have any distractions during meal time, such as a television or toys at the table. This has been proven to have poor effects on eating, and you don’t want to make your job any harder.
Stay strong, and remember eating is about nourishing that sweet little toddler who is growing way too fast, and not appeasing their tantrums.
(h/t Mommy Underground)