What & How to Feed a Toddler

bailey eating novemberI want to be a good mom; I want to feed my baby nutritious meals and snacks.  According to Deborah McNelis, good nutrition develops healthy brains.

I want my baby to have a healthy brain!  Who’s with me??  So read this post if you want some great ideas of things to feed your toddler / child for meals and snacks.  Let’s work on this together!

One of my 101 Goals in 1001 Days is to make an ongoing list of healthy and yummy foods for Cupcakes to eat – at least 50 Meals and 50 Snacks.  Here’s what I have found so far:

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[Some of these are too hard for Cupcakes at the moment, but she’ll be able to eat them soon / eventually.]

1.) Ants on a Log (raisins, celery, peanut butter)
2.) Whole Grain Nacho Chips with veggies, salsa, shredded cheese, and guacamole or Bean Dip
3.) Fruit Bars
4.) Apple Slices with Peanut Butter or String Cheese
5.) Berries and Low-fat yogurt
6.) Crinkle cut carrots with hummus
7.) Whole wheat pita triangles / baked wheat crackers with melted cheese for dipping
8.) Low fat yogurt with granola and fresh or dried fruit
9.) Whole grain, fiber rich cereal

10.) Graham crackers with apple sauce
11.) Yogurt Smoothie made with low-fat yogurt, milk, ice, and fruit
12.) Graham cracker sandwich with a scoop of yogurt and slices of banananilla sammiches
13.) Whole grain pretzels or rice cakes with cheese
14.) Cucumbers, celery or green pepper with low fat dressing for dipping
15.) Healthy Trail Mix made of whole grain oat cereal, chopped walnuts and dried cranberries
16.) Dip a banana in yogurt, roll in crushed cereal and freeze
17.) Oatmeal Raisin or Ginger Snap cookies
18.) Whole Grain crackers and fruit or sliced up carrots / other veggies
19.) Sorbet
20.) Nilla Waffers Sandwiching Banana Slices with Peanut Butter and Sprinkles on the Sides


21.) Low-fat Pudding
22.) Raisins
23.) Cheese and Crackers
24.) Fruit Salad


healthy smoothie

1.) Blueberry Pancakes (mash up blueberries and add to batter) or Whole Grain Waffles
2.) Whole Grain Raisin (or carrot / pumpkin / zucchini) Muffin Cakes with Cream Cheese “Frosting”
3.) “Banana Split”: Yogurt, a Quarter of a Banana and Sprinkle of Cereal
4.) Cereal: Cheerios, Kix, Life, Peanut Butter Multi Grain Cheerios, Shredded Wheat (<– as suggested by my following tweeps: @PheonyxFlower @LeeAnne_K_Owens @lucymarieslife @TheMamaMash – Thanks!)
5.)  Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Supershake –


6.) Mini Cheese Scones
7.) French Toast Squares
8.) Toasted Egg Smiles
9.) Cheesy Scrambled Eggs
10.) Apple Breakfast Bars

1.) “Sundae” Layer Finely Chopped Fruit with Yogurt and Cereal in a Tall Parfait Glass
2.) Muffins with Grated Zucchini or Carrots Baked in
3.) Brown Rice and Chickpeas
4.) Bologna Rolls on Pretzel Sticks
5.) Bologna and Cheese Hummus Wrap and Cucumber slices
6.) Octopus Hot Dog, Mac and Cheese and Baked apples
7.) Cheese and Veggie Quesadillas
8.) Fish Stix
9.) Carrot Wraps – Cheese, Nuts and Apricots added to Carrots in a Wrap
10.) Peanut Butter and Banana Grilled Sandwich

1.) Macaroni & Cheese with Finely Grated Veggies: Carrots, Beats or Zucchini
2.) Chicken and Rice with the aforementioned Veggies addedcute plate 3.) Meatballs with Veggies added Inside
4.) Spaghetti with Veggies added into the Sauce – Finely Chopped Peppers, Carrots, Parsley or Beans (cook until softened or even use a blender)
5.) Home-made or Store-Bought Pizza with Soft-Cooked or Roasted Veggies
6.) Pinto Beans / Kidney Beans7.) Turkey Tenderloin, Steamed Snap Peas, Steamed Carrots and Frozen Mango Chunks
8.) Beef and Cheese Taco with Mac & Cheese, and Frozen Blueberries
9.) Cheese Ravioli with Steamed Carrots and Green Pepper Slices
10.) Little Hot Dogs in Buns with Sweet Potatos or Mac & Cheese


Evaluate the Day’s Nutrition
According to the What to Expect website, we should think of the “big picture”, making sure the little ones eat protein (dairy or meat), calcium (dairy or veggies), vitamin C (fruits or veggies), a mixed bag of different colored fruits and veggies (several every day), whole grains (pasta and bread), iron (legumes, cereal), and healthy fats (avoid trans-fats).

Additional Nutrition Tips:
* Get Wheat Germ to sprinkle on pizza, mac & cheese and spaghetti for extra fiber!
* Toddlers typically need breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner

Pointers on Serving:
* [This is based on my own experience.]  Feed your toddler meals in stages or in courses.  I’ve found that if I give Cupcakes the whole meal at once, she will eat her favorite foods and just want more of that so she won’t eat the veggies or meat.  So start off by giving your Little One some peas.  After she/he has eaten a lot of those, give meat.  After that you can give him/her the fruit, cheese, bread and other parts of the meal.  This way, you could get a lot more goodies in your toddler’s tummy.

* Cupcakes and I still nurse 4 times a day.  In addition to that, she gets Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.  Recently, I started giving her a morning snack (before lunch) and an afternoon snack (after lunch/her pm nap).  Toddlers are burning so many calories all the time that they need lots of good food throughout the day to keep up their energy.

* Great Idea for Toddler / Preschooler Menu Planning!! —————————————>



* WhattoExpect.com
* Pickyin Blog
* Pinterest Board: Meal and Snack Ideas for my Toddler
* Mannly Mama Blog
* Once a Month Mom Blog
* The 50 Best Snacks for Your Child’s Backpack
* Disney’s Family Fun Website
* WholesomeToddlerFood.com (Recipes!)

Do YOU have some great meals / snacks for YOUR baby or toddler?  I would love your input!
Leave a comment below!!

~ Jamie

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  1. Forgetful Mom says:

    Both girls eat what we eat for the most part. our 8 month old had sloppy joes last night for supper! We attempt to eat healthy, with the girls eating with us I found we (Hubby and I) eat healthier.

    • HappyMama says:

      Thanks for all of your great recipes!! I thought I would post a few suggestions, too : )
      1. My 20mo old son LOVES the avocado + salmon + kale mash I make for him! I give him organic crackers to dip or spread it on whole wheat organic bread for a filling lunch.
      I grind up the kale in my food processor and throw it in a ziplock/ freeze then grab a handful and add it to EVERYTHING! Same with the Salmon!
      2. He loves hummus too, so I add shredded chicken/salmon and cucumbers (chopped up very small)& of course kale. great for dipping or on Pita.
      3. Meat balls are a winner at my house too. I make them with organic ground chicken or beef then mix in panko+ shredded cheese + different veggies (Kale, shredded carrots, etc) an egg then I like to cook them covered in my toaster oven or in spaghetti sauce so they stay soft.
      Happy cooking!

      • AdminJamin says:

        Wow those are all awesome suggestions!! Kale is SOO healthy but I have a hard tone figuring out how to use it. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. You have so many great ideas here! Our daughter eats what we eat mostly, but for snacks, I definitely get in a rut. I'm going to try some of these for sure.:)

  3. CA Rhoades says:

    Some of Gemma's favorite snacks are little slices of cheddar cheese, applesauce, whole wheat crackers, cottage cheese, grapes, bread, etc. For meals, we usually just give her some of what we're eating so it keeps is simple… we eat really healthy anyway so it works for us! 🙂

  4. Amanda @ Gratefully Growing in Grace says:

    These are awesome ideas! I will come back to this list.
    I wrote a post about how I feed my family to make sure I get all the food groups in… it's my little menu-planning routine. You can read about it here

  5. This is awesome. I just started writing a post on the exact same topic. Thanks for sharing all of these great ideas. 🙂

  6. CacheyMama says:

    OMG, I am going to bookmark AND pin this as soon as I get home. I am constantly trying to find healthy things for L to eat! When he was first starting him on baby food, I never thought he would be a picky eater because he gobbled that stuff up, but the solid foods are a little more difficult. I did get a mini food processor though and yesterday he ate pot roast and veggies chopped up together, so that was def. a WIN for us. Thanks for the tips!!!

  7. Melissa @ Filling Our Bucket says:

    This is a really great post. I stress so much about what the little guy is eating because I'm not the one feeding him any of his meals 5 days a week!! My parents watch him and they get super nervous giving him "real food" (fear of choking) and they also think it is too early for him to be eating real food. So it's a battle right now. But the ideas you have here are REALLY good and I think I'll try some of them this weekend since it is a 3 dayer!! 😀

  8. This is a great resource for parents! I make a conscious effort to keep healthy snacks in the house and have a healthy dinner menu rotation for me and Jake. I will definitely keep that up when we have kids. It's always good to have tips and ideas to broaden your snack and meal plans.

  9. Wow…that babe is eating better than me!! I want those snacks too:)

  10. mamamash.com says:

    Great post! I'm sometimes at a loss what to feed my kiddo, and we get stuck in the same food rut over and over again.

  11. looks wonderful! I once put zucchini in brownies..bad idea….stick with applesauce! haha

  12. LOVE MELISSA:) says:

    This is a great post! I always need new ideas for Zane! Thanks:)

  13. I always need ideas for my picky 3-year-old, so I appreciate this post. May I suggest: be sure not to go too crazy with trying to make things low-fat. The right kinds of fat, in moderation, are great for kids, just like they are for adults. Kids need fat for brain development and all sorts of other stuff going on in their bodies, too!

  14. Thanks! These are great. One thing that I would change is the low fat yogurt for whole fat yogurt. Don't toddlers need fat in their diet? I guess unless they are getting their fat from other dishes, low fat yogurt should be fine 🙂

    • I was thinking the same thing! I’ve always heard/read that babies and toddlers thrive on a higher fat diet than adults precisely because their brains are developing so quickly. Lots of avocado in our house! Otherwise, excellent suggestions!

      • Definitely skip the low fat, even for the grownups. Fat is good (and doesn’t make you fat)!

    • Agreed! kids need the fat! not to mention a lot of Low-fat & fat-free options are full of chemicals and artifical sweetners and have been over processed!

      • Definitely! There’s a lot mentioned in this post that contains potentially bad substances, go for all natural. Saw a lot of hot dog and mac and cheese options – try an all beef hot dog if you have to go that route, and make sure it’s a home made whole grain mac and cheese. That processed stuff scares me!

        • AdminJamin says:

          I agree with the all natural too! I tried to work the over-processed foods when I did the second post about Toddler Meals. I always get all beef hot dogs and try to give them to her only rarely. We also get organic mac n cheese (or homemade) by Annies (like Annies Bunnies) – that kind even has real cheese.

    • Yes, please give your toddlers whole fat milk and yogurt! Not only do low fat and skimmed milk products go through a process that oxidizes the cholesterol in the milk, making it more harmful to your body; full fat milk products contain myelin, which helps build the protective layer that coats our nerves…. very important for a growing body!

  15. This is fantastic!!!! So glad I could help. I will be sharing this with the toddler dinners community. Love the research. I just kinda fly by the seat of my pants!

  16. What a comprehensive list of food ideas. This page will be bookmarked for reference now and down the road! Thanks for all the effort to put this together 🙂

    • AdminJamin says:

      Oh that’s great I’m so glad you liked it!! This post did take a long time to research and compile, but it is my most popular one so it paid off! 🙂 So glad to help other mommies!!

      • I’m sorry, you used the word Cupcakes quite a lot in this blog. Is your child called cupcakes?

        • AdminJamin says:

          Yeah I’m sorry; I know it’s a bit confusing… yes I call my daughter ‘Cupcakes’ on this blog. 🙂

  17. some of these are great ideas, but I don’t see any nutritional value in cookies… or food items with unnecessary added sugar and empty calories(graham crackers and fruit bars). And yes, I believe it’s recommended that babies be on full fat yogurt (no-sugar added).

    • AdminJamin says:

      I do stay away from sugar for the most part but I think the occasional cookie is just fine, and I love fruit bars because sometimes she gets sick of real fruit since I give it to her at every meal/snack time. I don’t do it often. Moderation is key.

  18. My little guy (just turned 3) and I made Fruit Kabobs as snack yesterday. He ABSOLUTELY LOVED THEM. We took Grapes, Strawberries, Blueberries and Mini-Marshmallows and put them on a skewer. It was a fun activity to do with him, as well as a healthy snack. He loved making them AND eating them!

  19. There are some fantastic ideas here, thank you. I guess the only thing I would say is that our Paed told us to keep giving her full cream dairy products?

    • AdminJamin says:

      Yes we give her full fat stuff now too. I think some of the articles suggested low fat for when they’re older?

    • I was going to say the same thing as Pamela. children under 5 need full fat dairy products. They don’t need to worry about high calorie or fat intake at that age because they are growing so much. healthy, natural fats aid in brain development and bone density. Full fat yogurt and avocados baby! 🙂

      These recipes all look amazing! I can’t wait to try some with my toddler.

  20. my little 15 mo grandson likes colaches w/ sausage inside-he can hold it and eat it-next i will try sausage w/pancakes around it on a stick….

  21. my little 16 mo old likes coloches w/ sausage inside.next i am going to try the pancake on a stick w sausage. he can hold it himself(very imp) and eat it…gamma dulce

  22. My one year old LOVES freeze dried berries, I use the small pieces and powder to mix with plain yogurt (that is a bit bitter). Also, here is a great recipe for healthy, easy and yummy oatmeal muffins – you can make them with bananas or pumpkin – http://thnxpinterest.com/2012/01/23/thanks-pinterest-oatmeal-muffins/

  23. Love your ideas…….this is super helpful. However, just be careful with the peanut butter. Most pediatricians suggest waiting until 2 or 3 years of age before introducing peanut butter due to allergies.

    • AdminJamin says:

      I know that’s why I made sure to ask our pediatrician before giving it to her. She said studies don’t really show that delaying introduction of a food prevents the allergy and that we could try it if we wanted. Since there’s no family history of a peanut allergy, she thought it would be ok. So far so good! Thanks for the comment. 🙂

    • I’ve read that they are staring to link peanut allergies to late introduction. My doctor agrees that as long as there is no family history your good to go!

    • Pediatrician now recommend not with holding certain foods. Newer studies actually show that delaying certain foods can actually increase a childs risk of developing allergies. I have never done baby foods or purees, my son has always been fed what we eat and I think you have some great ideas. I would only suggest things like almond butter which is way better for you than peanutbutter, and always organic and un processed.

  24. Hi! I found your blog through Pinterest. Thanks for posting such wonderful ideas. Two cookbooks I have really come to love is Deceptively Delicious and Double Delicious (by Jessic Sienfield). She adds beans and veggies to kid friendly foods in a puree form so they don’t even taste them in there. You can get her books pretty cheap on Amazon or do what I do – check them out from the local library! Just thought I’d pass on another helpful hint to help toddlers eat healthful meals!

  25. Hooray for full fat dairy! I was about to suggest the same thing Pamela said. I LOVE this list of ideas for busy moms, and LOVE that very few of your snacks come from a box/bag from the “snack” aisle!! What a lucky little girl you have to get mostly real food right from the beginning. 🙂

  26. This is my first time here. I’m your newest follower! I’m editor-in-chief over at PreK+K Sharing and found you through our analytics this morning. Thanks for the shout-out to Deborah’s great article, we’ve had additional readers as a result of your ‘sharing.’

    Keep up the good work. You obviously have a dedicated following! Any chance you wanna reference my article from this week on Children’s Art: Process vs. Product? I’d LUV for more folks to read it!
    Debbie Clement
    PreK+K Sharing

  27. Love this post! Consider it pinned! 🙂

  28. I just became aware of the link you shared about the blog post I did for Pre-K & K Sharing on healthy nutrition. The link and your post is appreciated. It is so extremely important that information on healthy brain development is well known and understood. Thanks for your part in creating this important awareness.
    Enjoy the day!

  29. Jessica miller says:

    I would skip the low fat yogurt. Almost all LF yogurt contains aspartame, and they usually have 28g of sugar per serving, that’s more than soda! If you have them on whole milk plain yogurt from the start, they won’t know the difference 🙂

  30. I do think this is a great list! I’d like to add my voice to the chorus of those objecting to low-fat food, esp for toddlers. Not only is the issue the amount of fat that toddlers need but also low-fat foods tend to be more processed than full-fat and replace the fat with (processed) sugars to make them taste better. I hope moms are reading the labels, but just in case it’s helpful to know what’s in packaged foods.

  31. I too found your blog on pinterest. Thanks for some great ideas! Some other breakfast ideas are: cinnamon raisin bread with light cream cheese and extra raisins on top, My kids love scrambled eggs, and oatmeal with fruit or yogurt. Other snacks are deviled egggs (made with very little mayo and mustard, apple slices with PB and raisins, nut and dried fruit “trail mix” (we sometimes add M&Ms or chocolate chips for a sweet treat), and fruit chips (dehydrated or freeze drid). Other meal ideas: veggie burgers (found in freezer aisle), grilled cheese with tomatoes, and baked beans mixed with corn and a meat of choice.

    • AdminJamin says:

      Oh I love all those ideas! Thanks so much for adding to the list!! :oD

      • Most people do not realize that less fat oftentimes means more sugar, and sugar is waaaay more offensive (especially to little systems!) than fat. Additionally, little people and women literally need the “good” fats for proper development and natural cycles. Don’t shy away from the real butter and full-fat milk!

  32. GREAT LIST! I love wholesome baby and wholesome toddler! They’re SO HELPFUL!

  33. AdminJamin says:

    Thanks for all your great suggestions and critiques. The comments are making this post really great! :o)

  34. Good ideas, but most of this won’t work for my toddler who is allergic to wheat and rice!

    • AdminJamin says:

      Oh no I’m sorry! My boss’s kids all have terrible food allergies. I know one thing they’re allergic to is milk so they have to drink rice milk. I know there are a lot of glutton-free recipes on pinterest? If you need an invitation, let me know and I’ll send you one! Click contact me at the top for my e-mail address. 🙂

    • This site has lots of great gluten free recipes. You will need to adapt as necessary though to take out rice flour.

  35. How old is your LO? I have 13 month old twin boys and they are still choking on things quite a bit. I have to be very carefull what I give them. There were quite a few things on here that sound great but that I know they would not be able to chew. What age is this list of foods for? Thanx =)

    • AdminJamin says:

      Oh no! My LO is 14 months. She doesn’t eat everything on the list yet either (celery for example because it’s too hard) but she doesn’t have a choking problem at all. I’ve been giving her table food since she was about 7 months (started off slowly). The list is for toddlers so LOs ages 1-2. At 3 years, I would call them preschoolers.

  36. I just found this post through Pinterest and I must say, it’s awesome! I’ve been stuck in a snack rut with my daughter lately. One thing I have found that’s handy and she loves is anything covered in yogurt. Sunmaid makes cranberries and raisins covered in yogurt.

    I’ll likely be printint this list out to keep handy while grocery shopping. Thank you so much!

  37. Amanda Kramarz says:

    I think this is a great idea however there are a few things in this that I find disturbing. Feeding a toddler nuts, raisins and hotdogs can be harmful and in worst cases cause death.


    • AdminJamin says:

      Well you have to use your discretion. If your pediatrician says no nuts, don’t give nuts; cut the hot dogs up; not sure what the problem with raisins in, but you understand what I’m talking about right? These are just suggestions. Thanks for the link.

  38. Great post/ideas!

    For the yogurt, try plain Greek yogurt and add your own mix-ins – my son’s favorite: mango/banana.

    Weelicious.com & Cookingwithmykid.com are great websites – my go-to’s for quick, easy recipes.

    Also check out my Pinterest boards for even more ideas:
    http://pinterest.com/robynr/treats-for-the-short-peeps/ (fun snack ideas)

  39. Hey, I saw this post on Pinterest. I love to see the great mothers of the world taking such good care of their little ones. I am an active Father, myself (see http://www.fathermoments.com) Also, I wanted to tell you all about a cool site that challenges mothers to be better in a fun competition type of way. It is called the “Mommy Makeover”. It can be found at http://www.yochallenge.com. I hope it helps!

  40. melisa renner says:

    Great ideas! My problem is my 15month old doesnt eat! Any ideasfor this?

  41. My little ones love tuna salad and egg salad, with wheat crackers or on wheat toast. I also add black beans to quesadillas for some protein. Dried cherries and blueberries also have good nutritional value. Also, a veggie pizza (crescent roll dough baked and spread with cream cheese and topped with chopped carrots, broccoli, cucumbers and tomatoes. You can even blend the veggies with cream cheese for the littler ones). Great ideas on your post! I share a lot of the same 🙂

  42. I find breakfast to be the most challenging to come up with fresh ideas. Similar to the cheesy egg scramble you have listed, I add thinly sliced chopped/torn pieces of ham from the deli. I am picky about deli meats, so I try to get the best tasting/low sodium. I also started adding chunky applesauce, and a bit of cinnamon to taste for apple-cinnamon pancakes, delish!

  43. As a freelance writer, one of my research interests is children’s nutrition, so this blog entry really sparked my interest. I love the idea of introducing foods like hummus and guacamole at this age. They are both superfoods that most parents avoid feeding their kids because they automatically assume they won’t like them. Sweet potatoes are another great option for children to learn to love at an early age.

    I did notice that this list contains some highly-processed foods, and I would encourage all parents to avoid feeding their children things like hot dogs, bologna, and boxed macaroni & cheese. I know that it can be challenging because parents are so busy, but if you ever study some of the ingredients in these foods, you will not want them in your child’s body. Bologna and hot dogs are two of the most highly-processed meats. They are full of fat and high in salt, and many brands contain antibiotics and chemicals that can affect your child’s development. The worst brand of macaroni and cheese is Kraft. It is absolute junk! I would suggest that you read the label on any bread or cereal that you feed your kid. You would be shocked by how much sugar is in most of them! And let’s face it: blood sugar spikes can contribute to some pretty painful meltdowns.

    It’s great that you’ve incorporated a lot of fruits and vegetables into these ideas. Try to buy organic whenever possible, and if you can’t afford it, at least dodge the “dirty dozen.” Some produce is sprayed with literally thousands of different pesticides, and research shows that such chemicals can damage your child’s immune system. Pesticides are also linked to cancer and diabetes.

    I really wish that more parents would stop being so lazy with meal planning for their kids. Is there anything more important to teach our children then how to eat? I applaud you for presenting some creative ideas for keeping kids happy and healthy at mealtime!

    • As an active duty military member AND a full time mother, I am slightly offended that your assumption is that parents are just lazy. You may have the opportunity to make more commitments to a healthier lifestyle for you and your children, but not all mothers/parents have that luxury. Yes convienence is not always the healthiest, but I would rather spend my quality time with the children than in the kitchen. Please realize your audience prior to jumping to such conclusions. Making sure our children are fed and eating as healthy as we can provide is probably the most important point.

  44. Awesome site. Found you through Pintrest. So glad to see I am not the only one nursing a toddler 4 times a day. My daughter is just over 19 months. I figure when she is ready to stop then we can…or by the time she goes off to college :o)

  45. I found this on pinterest, what a great resource. My LO just turned one and I really want to do my best to make sure she has a well balanced diet. Sometimes it is hard to find time to plan out meals, so a fall-back list is awesome. The idea of introducing foods like hummus and chickpeas at this age is awesome, I will be giving them a try ASAP. Thanks so much for posting this.

    Also: Congratulations on breastfeeding as long as you have! What an amazing gift you are giving.

  46. These are great ideas but bologna and hot dogs are by no means healthy

  47. Love this list!! Thanks, it’s really helpful. 🙂

  48. haha! well, it’s better than how I eat thats for sure!

  49. Thanks for some new ideas! I do agree with some of the comments above though-I would never in a million years feed my child a hot dog, bologna, or most lunch meats. There is some freaky stuff in there! Instead of those things, you could cook some chicken at the beginning of the week and thinly slice it to keep on hand for snacks and sandwiches, or the Morningstar Farms brand does have veggie corn dogs (still too processed to eat very often, but way better than real corn dogs!) I get all of our meat from local organic farmers so I know where it is from. The whole family loves the locally made nitrate free sausages too. She also loves fish- salmon patties and salmon salad are faves.
    My doctor did say to go ahead and switch to lowfat milk at age 2, and if we do any other lowfat dairy it’s plain organic greek yogurt, so no fake sugars in that. I put fruit and sometimes honey on it. We don’t avoid peanut butter, honey, or strawberries- some research indicates that delaying these foods might be why some children develop allergies, so my doctor just said watch for any reactions.
    My favorite healthy trick is making muffins- you can put in oatmeal, fruits, veggies, etc. and very little sugar and for some reason every toddler gobbles it up. Our favorite is pumpkin, applesauce, oatmeal, and raisin muffins. I don’t even add sugar at all!
    Another way to cut out too much sugar is to puree sweet berries (whatever you can get in season and organic) and use that as “syrup” on wheat germ pancakes, whole grain waffles, etc.
    Keep up the nursing! We went with “self-weaning” and she stopped at 2 years 3 months on her own. She is never sick and very smart- I think nursing has contributed to that 🙂

    • AdminJamin says:

      All great tips – thank you so much for sharing that great info!! 🙂

    • Delaying honey is not about allergies, it’s about botulism. Babies’ digestive systems just don’t have all of the bacteria necessary to break down the potentially deadly bacteria that can be found in raw honey products especially. Do what you feel you must. I don’t delay peanut butter (no family history), and my kids get to eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese occasionally, but honey is one that I just don’t mess with until they are over one.

      Another thing to consider is that hot dogs and grapes are two foods that engineers have said are the perfect design to choke toddlers/pre-schoolers. I always cut both things twice (each piece into four) making it much less likely that they will choke on the pieces or that they will lodge in their throats. Again, do what you are comfortable with, but, FOR ME, I’ll probably be cutting hot dogs and grapes for my kids at their weddings…lol.

  50. Great ideas! I always love these types of posts 🙂 I have two little girls…I am a vegetarian and I try to keep their meals veggie as well, but every now and then some meat gets into their diet. Anyway, great post!

  51. My kids love mac n’ cheese with pureed carrots in it. Plus, they wouldn’t eat oatmeal (finally do at 7 and 4), and my daughter still won’t eat yogurt, so I add both to my pancakes, waffles, muffins. If you grind the oatmeal into a powder, it’s not so dense. :O)

  52. My 1 year old son enjoys refried beans ( look for low sodium if getting canned), nutrigrain whole grain eggos, grilled cheese on wheat bread (just cut into tiny pieces for safety), veggie burgers, baked fish, and sweet potato fries. The sweet potato fries are a great way to get in a vegetables and are very nutritious as long as you bake them instead of frying. Also, “hiding” veggies in foods they enjoys works well. For instances I will often purée cauliflower and broccoli or cooked spinach and add it to my refried beans or mashed potatoes.

  53. Ther eare some good ideas in ehre but hot dogs abd bologna? no. Not part of a healthy diet for anyone. And there can be some very questionable stuff in fishsticks. Just remember to read labels. If you don’t know what an ingredient is look it up. Learn what is in your food. Then you can have confidence you are giving your whole family a good start. 🙂

  54. Michelle Ludwig says:

    We use Trader Joes whole wheat pancake mix, i use applesauce instead of eggs, and add in 1/2-1/4 cup of wheat germ. I even at times add peas! My 2 yr old won’t eat peas but she loves her pancakes – we use either applesauce or yogurt for dipping.

    My 9 month old loves baked oatmeal. We don’t do low fat yogurt but are on skim milk with her.

  55. I love your site and these great ideas for picky eaters. My daughter is so picky that we have to really stand on our heads to get her to eat. She does like green beans and broccoli which I know that some kids don’t go for, but I want to get her to start eating a bigger variety of foods. Will definitely start on all these delicious ideas starting tomorrow at breakfast. We’ll see what happens. 🙂

  56. My son likes to keep me guessing. He’ll love something one day and won’t touch it the next. I didn’t see on your list- shelled edamame. Always a favorite. He will also always drink a smoothie- a great way to add veggies and fruits to his diet. Pancakes are a hit, and I often add pureed veggies to the mix (carrots, sweet potato etc). Make a batch and freeze the extra, reheat in the toaster later. My best timesaver is to freeze leftovers in a muffin tin to have a perfect toddler sized portion ready to go for a quick lunch. My little man loves quinoa, brown rice, cous cous etc- make a “casserole” with veggies, meat and a little stock or homemade cheese sauce. These are also great for dinner when he doesn’t want what we are having.

    • I saw your post; my son is the same. One thing that I found very helpful and space-saving is to batch cook the food, place in the silicon muffin trays or cupcake holders and bake and then freeze. Once they are frozen pop them out into a large freezer bag. I make 3-4 different types of food (orzo with meat sauce and shredded veggies, Sheppard’s pie, fish pie, omelets with lots of veggies and ham). You can let them thaw on the counter during the day, but if you forget (like me) you can just put it in the microwave and serve. With any of the above meals extra veggies and cheese always go down well, but you can also puree or shred the veggies right in and they don’t even notice (also works on the husband!).

      Happy cooking.

  57. Hi there, I love your idea of the fun meal planner with magnets, where are they from? I love being organized, but sometimes I just cant remember from one day to the next what type of food my son had (not to mention he eats about the same amount of food as an adult).


  58. LOVE this list!! It’s very inspiring. Just one tidbit of advice. I noticed you mentioned fiber-rich. Let me explain a scenario: fiber-rich food + toddler = mom and dad arguing (“You change this diaper!” “Ew, no, you change it!!!”). Been there, done that. Our toddler at least needs no assistance in the fiber department.

  59. I have a 16 month old daughter and her nutrition is very important to me. After reading through all the comments and just wanted to add a few things…
    1) Sunflower butter is a great alternative to peanut butter
    2) You can make your own “cream cheese” by straining plain whole fat (organic) yogurt. To do this just line a fine mesh sieve with a double layer of paper towels or paper coffee filters and spoon in yogurt. Cover & refrigerate overnight. If you are so inclined you can blend in a little honey or cinnamon or both.
    3) I like to think of each snack as a mini meal so I always include a fruit/veg, protein source and complex carb and a bit of fat. For example, cucumber slices, cheese and a few multi grain crackers or defrosted blueberries sprinkled with quick cook oatmeal (no need to cook it, just let it absorb juices) plus a glass of milk.

  60. Whitney says:

    I have allergies to deal with so I am constantly trying to get ideas. This helps even if I have to adjust for little one’s allergies. He is 17 months…..but we are in a rut!

    • We’re dealing with allergies too with my 16 month old!

      We’ve known about dairy and soy for around a year, and now we know she’s allergic to peanuts too. She’s not big on meat (usually spits it out and then tosses it to the floor). So we’ve been finding alternative sources of protein. One of my favourites is Quinoa since it’s a complete protein. A favourite for my daughter, is a sweet potato patty that I make with mashed sweet potatoes, quinoa (or quinoa flakes), some wild rice, chopped green onion, dried cranberries, and thyme. I just mash the cooked sweet potato and grains with everything else and pack into muffin pans for the shape.

      • AdminJamin says:

        I absolutely love all those suggestions! My daughter was spitting meat out at the table tonight too. She is very hit or miss with meat. I even made one of her favorites – homemade chicken nuggets. 🙂

        Keep up the great work!

        • the spitting out might not mean she doesn’t like it. Our DD was doing this for awhile and even had a food evaluation. They said it’s completely normal, she’s just trying things. If she overstuffs her mouse, she’s getting good sensory, etc. I was just letting her take it out and put it back in as she went along, but now I’ve decided the habit has to end and she’s not allowed. You can tell if it’s something they don’t like (like she will taste and hates lima beans) or something they’re just messing with.

  61. One thing I did when my little guy was…well, little ;)! I used to put the baby food fruit on his whole grain or whole wheat waffles. It was very spreadable and was another great way of getting his fruit in!

  62. Heather Perrin says:

    This is WONDERFUL! My hubby has our daughter during the day while I am at work and these are excellent ideas for him to give her at lunch time! Guess I need to go to the store for him! Your 101 in 1001 is inspiring. Keep up the good work.

  63. Bladen LOVES oatmeal for breakfast, but is so impatient when it has to cool down! I was putting an ice cube in it, but didn’t like the consistency, so I started putting frozen fruit in it.
    It works perfectly w/frozen bananas or blue berries! Plus he loves it even more with the fruit.
    Yogurt is also a huge favorite, so I want to try and make some frozen yogurt drops as a nice summer snack.

    Thanks for the list, it has tons of great ideas!

    • AdminJamin says:

      Oh my gosh I LOVE the idea of frozen fruit in hot oatmeal – I bet Cupcakes would love it!!

      • We use frozen blueberries as well to cool the oatmeal fast. And as a healthy sweetener, we use apple butter. Add a little cinnamon and you have a dancing child in our house.

    • those frozen yogurt dots like seen on pinterest melt FAST!! 🙂 but are good if they eat them fast. I make pudding and freeze it in small squares and they seem to last a little longer.

      and yes to the frozen fruit. Once you’re going through a ton of fruit, I find when a banana or a bunch of strawberries start looking like they’re going to spoil, cut em up, put them on a cookie sheet, freeze and then put in another container. Works with everything.. raspberries, pineapple…. etc. etc.

      • AdminJamin says:

        I LOVE these ideas!! Thanks! I never thought to freeze fruit and end up throwing it away if it doesn’t get eaten and is about to go bad!

  64. This and Part 2 are awesome, I pinned them both and am putting them in my favorites!

  65. Katie EA says:

    My little one is 27 months and he just isn’t very interested in dinner so I definitely need some new ideas for dinners just for him.
    As for snacks I use a plate similar to your 5 sections one and give him a variety of fruit, cheese and crackers which keeps him satisfied I will have to add some of your ideas. =D
    My litle guy is making progress though he has started eating peanut butter sandwiches, ate some alfredo and even a grilled cheese! Which is huge for him he wouldn’t eat anything cooked before other then fries.

  66. good post. But I think that making a separate dinner for your child is just asking for a picky eater. Add the dinner selections to lunch and you’ll be in a better place. Don’t allow anything to be ‘kid food’ or they’ll learn to dislike ‘adult food’.

    • AdminJamin says:

      I COMPLETELY agree! The real challenge here (at least for me) is to start liking healthy food more! We always try to make sure Cupcakes eats what we eat. The biggest problem I can think of now is that I don’t like fruit and such in my pancakes. 🙂

  67. hello, found your blog via pinterest. great ideas. i do have a question my two year old refuses to eat meat. any suggestions??

    • AdminJamin says:

      Hi & thanks! My best advice would be to keep trying! Try different meats and try multiple times. I read somewhere on the internet (I’m sorry I can’t remember where) that a child has to have something ten times before they know if they like it or not. Best of luck!! 🙂 In the mean time, make sure he/she gets protein from other sources like beans. My toddler LOVES beans!

      Also, maybe ask your pediatrician at the next visit. A doctor would probably have great suggestions too!

      • If you can find it where you live, Quinoa is another great source of protein for little eaters that refuse meat (it’s a complete protein). Cook it like rice and mix it in with stuff they love. We also do scrambled eggs in the microwave and cashew butter on toast.

  68. My boy loves loves loves ham, but won’t eat a sandwich and I feel silly just slapping a few slices of ham on a plate. So I invented “hold ups” (ham rollups). A slice of ham wrapped around lettuce, a pickle slice and some strong cheese. He always gobbles them down, then asks for more!!!

    • AdminJamin says:

      I love that idea and I’m so glad your son loves them!! What a great idea! I also like the idea of rolling up ham in a tortilla. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  69. Maura Rickart says:

    Finally, a mom that gets it and shares it!! So many food websites for kids that I see miss the mark. The meals are either elaborate or not kid friendly (at least for my 3 boys). Your ideas are GREAT! Some are ones I already do, but more creative. Which I need help with, thanks! I will try many of your ideas!

  70. Thanks for the tips. I think you’d appreciate reading French Kids Eat Everything. It’s totally changed the way I feed my 20-month-old, though we began when he was 16 months. He eats EVERYTHING, and we never repeat within a 2 week time frame if we can swing it. She also has some very intriguing and persuasive points regarding how much American toddlers/kids are expected to snack. We followed her observations of French children, and we only eat Breakfast, Lunch, Goutier (afternoon snack, halfway between lunch & dinner) and Dinner. We never take snacks ANYWHERE now, and only bring water along. We’ve noticed that his appetite skyrocketed during meals! And now he’s filling up on good food instead of snacktime fillers. I’d be very interested to hear what you think of it.

    • AdminJamin says:

      Wow that sounds very interesting! I will check it out and let you know; are you on twitter????

      • oh, and I have to add (because I just noticed that you’re Catholic, too!) we never ever ever allow him to eat at Mass. Since we’ve eliminated unnecessary snacks from his every day, he never ever asks for snacks during Mass! If my blog were more overt I would love to write a post about toddler habits at Mass that become teenage habits at Mass (I used to be a YM). Let me know if you check out the book. My twitter is thishawksnest

  71. I am! @thishawksnest

  72. How about some banana ice cream? Like this but without the chocolate chips: http://lifewithcheeseburgers.com/2012/09/06/project-plate-challenge-4-bananas-choco-chip-ice-cream/

    Mmm…my nephews would LOVE it.

  73. A lot of these are great ideas… But as a dietitian I would argue that bologna is not a nutritious brain building food. Why not turkey or ham?

  74. my 1 year old used to create a nuisance i remember. had to bribe him so as to feed him. then a few days later i found out a solution to this problem through this blog at nappytimes http://goo.gl/lZVmF

    very helpful

  75. Great list. I wish my 15mo son can eat the food u listed here. He is not a picky eater. He eat everything i gave him but he just dont chew the food and it makes him choke and puke all the things out. Helpppp!! Now i just gv him pureed food or porridge.

  76. Hi Great post! One thing I noticed was you kept writing low-fat for yogurt etc. children need fats for brain development so real whole organic dairy products would be more beneficial. Low fat options tend to also be higher in sugars and other concoctions of chemicals.

  77. I would be cautious of the lunch meats. They have nitrites which can lead to many diseases (like cancer and A.D.D.) Try to buy lunch meats and hot dogs that are nitrite free.

  78. Jackie Larson says:

    Please help! I’m a first time mom, and my 16 month old son will not eat any veggies or meats!!! He gags. He only eats fruits,yogurts, and some pastas. I am getting so frustrated! I am always making dinner, meat and veggie and serry on his tray, he throws the food…I, need any suggestions

    • AdminJamin says:

      Hi and thanks for commenting. My best suggestion is to puree some veggies and put them into the sauce of your pasta or in your yogurt. I would also keep offering the veggies and meats with the meals. There are lots of protein substitutes you can do instead of meat for the time being like peanut butter (I recommend all natural), eggs, and beans. Best of luck!!

  79. Great ideas!
    Just a few pointers! Children under the age of 6 need more fat than adults and older children for their growth and development. Instead of using foods like “low-fat yogurt” use yogurt that contains fat, this will help your child develop. Include healthy fats in your child’s diet, including whole milk (3.25%) for optimum growth and development!
    Keep it up! I’m sure he will appreciate it!

  80. I make baked chicken nuggets with chopped chicken, broccoli (or other finely chopped veggie), an egg, and some quinoa, rolled in oil of choice and seasoned breadcrumbs. It goes great with homemade macaroni and cheese (or other side pasta), and it is both picky husband and 9 mo daughter (not so picky) approved. I especially like them dipped in honey mustard, but no honey for baby of course! I make finger-shaped ones for her to easily handle, and I make a large batch and freeze the leftovers. Fabulous easy lunch!

  81. Just stumbled upon you via Pinterest (of course, right?!). My little guy really enjoyed Annie’s Mac and Cheese- I made the whole box, but then added half a box of cooked squash. YUM! It makes the white cheddar mac even creamier and look bright orange. Just another suggestion 🙂 Thanks for your ideas!

  82. I love to give my 13month old quinoa.. Quinoa plus zucchini and chicken, mixed with pesto, as an example?

  83. Most of these ideas are really great, but low-fat foods (especially low-fat yogurt) should NEVER be fed to toddlers. Toddlers need the fat from the full-fat versions for healthy brain development. Yo baby, yo toddler, and yo kids yogurt is a wonderful full-fat option that grows with them.

    • AdminJamin says:

      Hi Kristina, you’re totally right. A lot of people wrote similar things in these comments. I didn’t know and am so glad my readers corrected me. I addressed this -and some other issues from this post- in Part 2 of this post: 46 More Healthy Meal and Snack Ideas for my Toddler

      Thanks so much for reading! 🙂

      ETA: Cupcakes LOVES YoToddler yogurt!!

  84. Tracey Huie says:

    I make sure to put ground flaxseed and whey protein powder into my oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, breads and muffins. As well as Pureed squash or sweet potatoes. Also if you bake with avacado instead of oil it makes it lighter and fluffier. Good luck

  85. Just had to reply, to everyone giving you crap about the low-fat yogurt. Yes, everyone thinks toddlers need whole fat dairy products for “healthy development” and all that jazz. No they don’t, or need dairy at all for that matter. That’s milk for baby cows, not baby humans. Also, you’re still nursing, so she’s getting all the fat she needs from the “real deal” dairy product. Good for you.

  86. Awesome toddler meal and snack ideas! Now I just need to figure out how to get my son to try new foods… He is one year old and we are gradually weaning from breastfeeding. I’m trying encourage him eating his toddler meals I make, but he prefers to eat only crunchy things – toast, crackers, crunchies…

  87. Love your ideas! I have a 2.5 year old and he would love some of these ideas. One thing that he has gotten hooked on is toasted chickpeas. I take a can of low sodium chickpeas and rinse them and toss them with a little evoo and some spices and either toast them in the frying pan or in the oven. He eats them like popcorn! We also love chickpea and lentil fritters. With my add ins they taste like pizza and he loves them-great source of fiber and protein too.

  88. Great ideas! Any suggestions for the pickiest eater? My son (2yrs 3mo) has a few staple items that he’ll eat and they aren’t always the healthiest choices. I’ve sneakily switched out his regular snack crackers for the same brand but whole grain, and finally convinced him to eat frosted mini-wheat cereal for breakfast. However, he steadfastly refused anything other than macaroni or dinosaur chicken nuggets for meals. He at least has found 2 types of protein bars he likes yay! That’s great since he used to LOVE anything peanut butter (even just a spoonful by itself), and now refuses to eat peanut butter. This goes for many other foods too…what happened to the great little eater who used to love carrots??

    I’m just worried about adding more variety. He is even so picky that it has to be Kraft macaroni or it’s a no go. Any ideas on helping my stubborn boy get some better nutrition? I tried smoothies, but he doesn’t trust my drinks anymore after one failed experiment…oops!

    Thanks 🙂

  89. Thanks for all of these ideas! My toddlers are young (just turned 13 months) and have very few teeth so we’ll be holding off on some of these ideas but they are great! Stop by Oh.em.gee it’s Nikkie and say hi if you get the chance!
    Nikkie recently posted…5 Nearly Free Toddler ToysMy Profile

  90. What is with all of the low fat stuff?
    Do yourself a favor and stop bying lowfat, enriched, or diet anything! Its SO bad for you! Plus, why worry about the fat content that your kids are getting from vitamin rich foods?


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