Healthy Meal Ideas For Picky Toddlers

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You need some healthy meal ideas for picky toddlers. I know how frustrating it can be when your toddler refuses to eat their vegetables or won’t touch a green pea.

Raising a family is no easy feat and involves many challenges – not least of which is figuring out how to get kids to eat their greens! So how can picky toddlers be persuaded to eat healthy?

Healthy Meal Ideas For Picky Toddlers

Most vegetables taste better roasted. I love to roast a big sheet pan of veggies for my kids, especially if they are new to veggies. It helps them learn to like them early. We do broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash like butternut, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, and so much more.

I’ve even seen people roast beets, radishes, and turnips this way. That’s a big no thanks for me. But you might like it. These are the very few vegetables that I just do not like no matter how hard I try.

Another great way to make veggies taste good is stir-frying. You use super high heat, a little oil, and stir them fast. It gives them a nice crispness that many people prefer.

Don’t forget that kids are more likely to try something they are used to. And it takes 11 times of exposure to become a familiar food. So, don’t give up. Just keep eating and enjoying and modeling good eating habits

Healthy make ahead meal ideas for toddlers

My kids LOVE my cucumber salad and beg for it. They eat it by the quart. It’s sliced cucumbers, thinly sliced onions, dill, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. It’s a fan favorite at little sprouts. I would never think a kid would eat that. But they do.

I love it and made it for myself. They kept begging for it until I had to make 4 large cucumbers at a time so they all got enough.

There is hardly anything that all the kids love, so remember to offer choices. We usually have 4-6 choices of fruits and veggies on our table every lunch. I just say you have to pick at least two and ask what they want.

They don’t have to eat two here, but food program rules dictate that two have to be on their plates, so I say pick two. I usually have one fruit and the rest are freshly sliced cucumbers, carrots, sugar snap peas, cooked frozen corn, cucumber salad, roasted broccoli, roasted cauliflower, cooked frozen mixed vegetables, or peas, or something like that.

Finger food lunch box ideas for daycare

If you have very young toddlers who don’t have many teeth or are just starting out eating, just microwave or steam those raw veggies for a few minutes so they are easier to bite and chew for their toddler meals.

You’d be surprised at the volume of fresh fruits and vegetables my kids consume at a meal. These kids are lumberjacks. But they all go through times and phases where they eat less or hardly eat. I know this happens, so I don’t worry about it.

Tips for feeding picky toddlers

Here are a few more tips for feeding picky toddlers on the regular. First, keeping a routine makes mealtimes more predictable thus more comfortable for kids. Don’t make separate toddler meals for kids, cook one meal, and eat peacefully.

Make the mealtime pleasant, not stressful. Have pleasant conversation, smile, enjoy your food. Mealtime is the best time of the day to connect with your family.

More great ways to help kids want to eat is to let them help prepare the meal. Kids can put food on a serving plate, set the table, choose side dishes, stir, measure, dump, and do all kinds of fun things. Even more than cooking is growing food. If you have a garden, let kids get involved in tending it. You’ll be surprised at how much it affects what kids want to try.

Realistic meal ideas for easy meals for one year old

At mealtime turn off the screens. TV, tablets, computers, and phones are huge distractions from eating. Let it be a time to disconnect from those things and connect with each other.

Don’t fear that kids will starve. It’s hard not to worry, but kids feel your fear and they will be less likely to loosen up. They WILL eat when they are hungry. It’s okay. And don’t forget, some kids have sensory disorders or other medical issues that make certain things unappealing.

It’s all a process. If you notice your child hardly eats anything AND they haven’t gained any weight in over 6 months, you might want to ask their doctor. Otherwise, stay the course and it will probably even out.

Lastly, don’t offer sweets as a reward. You’ll get dessert if you eat your broccoli. That doesn’t help build healthy habits in the long run. And don’t potato pay them, Ore-Ida. Blech. That commercial makes me so mad. Way to sell some future eating disorders. America’s most trusted potato, not anymore. It’s a horrible practice, just don’t.

Toddler food ideas

Now let’s get those toddler food ideas to make your life more pleasant and get your kids to finally eat.

Toddler breakfast ideas

Breakfast can be simple things like flavored oatmeal or cream of wheat with some fruit or fruit and nuts. It can also be a fruit and granola yogurt parfait. Anything toddlers can pick up with their hands for toddler meals like bacon, sausage, dry cereal, fruit slices, pancakes, French toast sticks, waffles, or cheese cubes would make a great breakfast.

Kids usually love scrambled eggs. Some of them even like boiled eggs, so that’s a great thing to try. I love to make breakfast casseroles, frittatas or quiches. If your kids would go for something like that, go for it. My kid’s favorite way to eat eggs is just scrambled eggs with some shredded cheddar cheese mixed in at the end. We call it cheesy eggs and it’s a winner here.

Here is a list of toddler breakfast ideas and don’t forget, any of these can be used for breakfast for lunch or breakfast for dinner, so don’t be afraid to serve them for any meal.

Toddler breakfast recipes-

If the link is highlighted, you can click on the recipe.

Boiled eggs-I just put a dozen eggs in cold water and a generous sprinkling of salt on the burner. I set the timer for 25 minutes and the burner on high and they turn out perfectly every time. If I do less than a dozen, they usually get overdone. You may have to adjust for your stove as well.

  • Cheesy eggs
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Egg casserole
  • Frittata
  • Quiche
  • Egg in a nest
  • Sausage biscuits
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • French toast sticks
  • Breakfast pizza-cook some crumbled sausage and some scrambled eggs. Find a crust, either pizza crust premade, make your own, use a tortilla, a bagel or an English muffin. You can spread it with pizza sauce if you like or make a hollandaise sauce. I go without sauce when I make it. Then sprinkle on cooked sausage and eggs, you could also add some cooked spinach or mushrooms, whatever your kids like to eat. Top with some shredded cheddar cheese and bake in a 350 oven until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Peanut butter and apples
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • Toast
  • Berries
  • Sliced fruit

Toddler lunch ideas and dinner ideas

  • Homemade chicken nuggets-simply take some boneless skinless chicken breast and cut it into chunks. Beat one egg with a splash of water and salt and pepper. In another bowl, add flour and salt and pepper. Roll the chicken chunks in the egg mixture and then in the flour. You can either bake these in the oven on 350 until done through or put a little olive oil in a skillet and brown them that way. They cook super-fast too.
  • Cheese quesadillas
  • Chicken quesadillas
  • Ham or turkey sandwich
  • Grilled cheese
  • Soups-Soups are always a favorite with my kids. They make this vegetable beef soup all the time and love it, but I haven’t found much I can’t put in soup and they will love it. They love to slurp the juice.
  • Spaghetti
  • Sloppy joes using spaghetti sauce on buns
  • Nachos-pile up whatever toppings you like on your chips, cover in shredded cheddar or cheese of your choice, and then bake in the oven until cheese is bubbly.
  • Tacos
  • Bean burritos-simply cook some beans in the crockpot overnight (or even use canned). Strain a spoon full of beans and place in a warm tortilla. Sprinkle with some cheddar cheese and roll up. This is a lifelong favorite toddler meal of so many of my daycare kids.

Healthy meals for picky eaters

Got a little vegetable-dodger on your hands? Don’t despair, try some of these top tips at supper time, plus kid-friendly healthy meals for picky eaters.

Feeding children is fraught with emotion, as the desire to keep your kids healthy and happy is very strong, it’s easy for kitchen table situations to get highly charged. It can be quite an unsettling experience when a happy eater changes their feeding habits overnight, and starts shunning everything you put in front of them. But most children will experiment with some form of pickiness or food refusal at some stage, and it is likely to be with the things you most want them to eat.

No one wants to cower to their children’s demands, but it is easy to fall into the trap of offering multiple meal choices when your instinct is to keep your children fed, and dinnertimes can quickly turn into a battleground. But whether you believe in staying firm or being flexible, here are some ideas to help achieve happier and healthier mealtimes.

How to win over picky eaters & healthy meal ideas

Salmon pesto traybake with roast baby potatoes

1. Get them involved

Browse through a cookbook together, or take a look at our healthy kids’ collection online, and let them contribute ideas to a weekly meal plan. You could also try taking them shopping to a market or supermarket and letting them select a fruit or vegetable they want to try.

Growing your own brings a host of benefits, like fresher produce and saving money. Try something that’s easy to plant and look after, like a cress head, herbs or tomatoes, which can all fit into a windowsill box. They are bound to be delighted at the process and enjoy giving the cress a ‘haircut’ or picking tomatoes for their supper.

2. Hidden veg

If you’ve got a serious veg-dodger on your hands then there are plenty of sneaky ways of getting the good stuff into them. Recipes like Spaghetti & meatballs with hidden veg, More-veg-less-meat Summer Bolognese and Pasta with tomato & hidden veg can soon start racking up their 5-a-day. Finishing a meal with fresh puds like frozen fruit sticks is a great way of adding extra nutrients, too.

Spaghetti with meatballs and tomato sauce

3. Start small, think big

Try offering really small portions on a plate so it doesn’t look overwhelming, and you can always top them up as you go along. A starter of daintily sliced, colourful veg crudités is a good way of getting some good stuff into your kids when they are at their hungriest. Keep sweet foods well out of sight until the end of the meal – if you are packing a lunchbox, then try two separate boxes for sweet and savoury foods.

4. Patience and persistence

Don’t expect immediate results, changing your child’s attitude to food can be an ongoing journey and you may need to present a particular vegetable/dish a number of times before they are brave enough to try it. Familiarity is often key, and it is widely reported that if a child initially rejects a particular food, it normally takes at least 10 times for it to become accepted.

5. Make a meal of it

Put on some relaxing music and where possible sit down and eat together as a family. Making it a relaxing experience from the start can work wonders at defusing difficult mealtime behavior. Watching parents and siblings get stuck in can also be a great incentive for younger children to follow suit.

Fish cakes in a pan

6. Get ahead

Ironically kids that are over-hungry tend to be the most difficult to feed – miss the window and mealtime meltdowns might be on the cards. Batch-cooking freezable recipes is another great way of reducing stress, meaning you should be able to sit down with your children as they eat and give them your full attention with a clear mind. Besides, cooking after a long day at work with a toddler clinging to your knees is never easy anyway.

Rewards

Offering sweet treats as a reward for eating the main meal has the potential of setting up the ideology that healthy, savoury food is to be endured rather than enjoyed in its own right. Alternative treats like stickers for a reward chart might be just as effective for getting them to eat up, you could also try giving them a sticker for other things like trying something new or sitting patiently at the table.

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