What to feed picky toddlers?
Confession: before having kids, I may have scoffed at the mention of toddler meal ideas.
How hard could it be to just make your kid eat whatever you are eating and call it a day? Well, like most things in parenting, I was wrong of course. Figuring out what to feed picky toddlers is a constant battle for me right now.
With two little ones, these days our meal plan is often based around toddler food ideas, otherwise, they would never eat! I assume that since you are reading this, you are probably in the same boat. I’ve looked up a lot of toddler recipes in the past year, but some are SO elaborate…who has time for that?
And worse, if they DON’T eat it, you’ve just wasted an hour.
This is a solid round-up of 26 quick and easy toddler meal ideas for even the busiest of mamas. You are welcome.
Related: How to Get Your Toddler to Eat Vegetables
Related: How to Feed Your Toddler Without a Fight
Finger Food for Toddlers
Finger foods are great for every toddler, but these are especially great for the transition between mushed food and real table food. 1 year old baby food recipes can be hard to find, but here are a few of our favorite finger foods that can be eaten any time of day.
• Porridge fingers: these oatmeal bars for toddlers are easy to pick up and very popular with little ones. The apple pie version sounds delicious!
• Baked apple slices: my friend swears by these—her toddler devoured them! Take an apple, peel it and slice it into finger-shaped wedges. Then sprinkle it with a bit of cinnamon and bake until soft.
• Fruit salad: any kind of fruit will work, provided it’s chopped into the right size, but this toddler fruit salad with peach, strawberry, and blackberry sounds delicious! It has a mint-honey dressing, so make sure to omit the honey to make it safe for babies under one.
• Energy bites: I know, I know. As if we needed to give them more energy, right? This is a recipe adults will love that can also be easily turned into finger foods for toddlers—just grind the oats a bit more and make them into bar shapes.
• Sliced toast: toast can be much easier to grip than a soft piece of bread. Your toddler will love gnawing on toast whether it’s served plain, topped with nut butter or if you get fancy and make them an avocado toast.
• Veggie sticks: to make vegetables cut them into sticks that are about the width of an adult finger. If they are hard vegetables like carrots, steam or bake them to soften before handing them over.
Breakfast Ideas for Toddlers
Let’s start with the most important meal of the day. I don’t know about you all, but breakfast time in our house isn’t always exactly leisurely, especially on weekdays. These breakfast ideas for toddlers have saved my sanity more than once!
• Smoothies: what’s easier than tossing some ingredients in a blender, whirling it up and handing off a cup to drink? This smoothie for toddlers is made with peanut butter, frozen banana, and chocolate protein powder.
• Mini muffins: no, not the kind from the gas station, although in a pinch that’ll work. These mini muffins for toddlers are sweetened only with fruit and have vegetables in them…which they will never know. 😉
• Fresh fruit: fruit is healthy and easy. I usually reach for clementines, bananas or blueberries. I avoid grapes since they are a choking hazard unless cut into pieces, which I do not have time for.
• Deconstructed cereal bowl: this is one of my favorite toddler meal ideas! It sounds fancy but it’s basically a few handfuls of dry cereal with a cup of milk. It’s so easy.
• Egg muffins: I’m always a fan of make-ahead food, especially if my kid will eat it, and these toddler freezer egg muffins do the trick! I chop the veggies tiny and don’t hear any complaints.
• Pancakes: this is definitely a quick toddler food idea! Pre-make a batch of small round pancakes using your favorite recipe and freeze them to serve up any time.
• French toast roll ups: if you are looking for a toddler breakfast idea the entire family can enjoy, try these! This would be a fun weekend brunch meal where each family member can add his or her favorite toppings.
• Eggs: there are so many ways eggs can be enjoyed, even for toddlers. A few ways that have worked for us are scrambled with cheese and hardboiled eggs cut into quarters.
Toddler Lunch Ideas for Daycare or at Home
I have heard from so many moms who work full time and use daycare that finding meals to send with their child can feel impossible. I feel your pain!
Like most things at this stage, lunch can be tricky for little ones depending on if they took a good nap. Plus, sending meals to daycare means you have to put something together quickly, often in the mornings.
These are definitely quick and easy toddler recipes that any mama can use for lunch.
• Pasta and meatballs: here’s a two-for-one idea. Make this toddler-friendly pasta (it has hidden veggies!) as dinner for the entire family. Then send some to daycare as lunch for your toddler the next day. Just don’t forget a bib!
• Peanut butter and jelly sushi rolls: this is such a cute toddler meal idea! This miiiight be the only sushi your child wants for awhile!
• Roasted veggies and chopped chicken: chicken can actually be quite soft and easy for toddlers to chew on when it is cut correctly. Pair it with this toddler-friendly roasted carrot recipe and you’ve got a well-rounded meal.
• Protein box: you know those protein boxes you can get at stores? Make one for your toddler! You can put anything in it, but some of my favorite ideas are apple slices with nut butter, roasted veggies with hummus, string cheese, and squeezable yogurt pouches.
• Breakfast for lunch: you’ve heard of breakfast for dinner, but why not lunch? Pack some chopped hardboiled eggs, orange slices, cheerios and a cup of milk, then call it a day.
• DIY lunchables: okay, now this is a BRILLIANT toddler meal idea. Rather than buy Lunchables, make your own. Just add crackers, deli meat, cheese slices to your toddler’s lunch box.
Foods for Picky Toddlers
Despite our best efforts to ensure our children eat a well-balanced, healthy diet, toddlers are very strong-willed (in case you haven’t noticed!). These foods for picky toddlers are things that your kid is very likely to actually eat. And…a good chunk of these toddler meals for picky eaters have hidden veggies in them. They’ll never know!
• Quesadillas: here’s a quick and easy toddler recipe you can make in a microwave! Simply add some shredded cheese to a tortilla, fold it in half and then microwave until the cheese is melted. Cut it into small triangles so they are easy for little hands to hold. They can be eaten hot or cold.
• Sweet potato banana bites: this is a perfect food for a picky toddler who won’t eat vegetables. There is no added sugar–all the sweetness comes from fruit and veggies. They’ll never know!
• Broccoli-cheddar muffins: I know, food for picky toddlers that includes broccoli? This one is worth a shot—just grate up the broccoli extra tiny so they don’t see it. 🙂
• Fruit with nut butter: there are only a handful of children out there that can resist this combination. Experiment with different combinations, like apple slices with almond butter or strawberries and banana with peanut butter.
• Applesauce: make homemade applesauce with secret veggies hidden inside! Out of all the toddler meal ideas out there, this one might have the most universal appeal.
• Pizza muffins: here’s fun food for a picky toddler! Pizza is hard to resist for most, but this version is in muffin form so your child won’t be able to pick tomatoes off the top.
So there you have it! 26 quick and easy toddler recipes that your child will love!
If you have a toddler, you may also be interested in:
What is an Appropriate Bedtime for your Toddler?Fun Books to Read With Your ToddlerFun summer activities for toddlers