Toddler Meals and Snack Ideas
I get asked often what I feed Atli. He’s always eating. He either has food in his mouth, in his hand or carrying around his snack container as he leaves a trail of crumbs for me to clean up. I’m thankful he’s a good eater (not thankful for those diaper changes though). I thought I’d share a few of the meals I prepare for him!
Although he’s almost 14 months, he’s still being breastfed. I plan on breastfeeding him for as long as he is interested in my boob (he does take a bottle well when I am working photographing a wedding). On top of breastmilk 4 times a day, he eats 3 meals and about 345678565 snacks. We first introduced food to him at 5.5 months and started with mashed banana. He loved it. He quickly graduated to other foods which we introduced every 3 or 4 days. By the time he was 8 months, he was eating almost everything we eat except eggs (I was scared to introduce it too early because eggs are a common allergen and I know someone whose daughter had a horrible reaction to egg whites and it terrified me), shellfish (he still isn’t eating shellfish), honey (can’t introduce that until after 2 years old) and most meat (his stomach didn’t agree with it until close to the 1 year mark and even now we only give him a bit and only chicken, turkey and some beef…never any processed or cured meats). Now the only things he doesn’t eat are honey and shellfish. Some of his favourite foods are: cheese, pancakes, eggs, broccoli, apples, peanut butter, pasta, rice, mangos, oranges & grapes.
Every child is different. Some just aren’t interested in food and rather play but here are a few suggestions I give to mamas getting in touch about introducing food to their little ones:
1. Start off slow. Introduce one thing at a time and keep giving it to them for a few days before introducing something new. This is to ensure if they do have any food reactions or allergies you’ll know what caused it
2. Let them see you eat. So often parents are asking me how Atli eats broccoli like a champ, or downs mangos, beans, carrots and pasta. I make it a family event. When he eats his breakfast, lunch and dinner, so do we. He sees us eating dinner and we eat the same thing as him. It’s important that he knows that we all eat as a family and it’s good for us and we make it an enjoyable experience.
3. Don’t force. If they aren’t interested in a certain food, that’s ok. Try to give them something else.
4. If they are whining for your food or pointing at the table, try giving them water. We use this munchkin 360 trainer cup and he holds the handles on his own. We always preface it with “water” and do the sign for it. Now he knows to point at the cup when he’s thirsty.
5. Make sure they are getting sufficient play time in before trying to sit them at the table to eat (or in a high chair).
Products We Love
We love this wooden plate with suction cup bottom as well as this marble silicon grip dish with divided compartments. I also really like these small speckled melamine plates. I may get a set for all of us! I should also note that Atli uses a spoon and fork with some help but sometimes he just prefers to eat with his hands like his mama.
He loves pancakes. They are our go-to breakfast and I usually pair it with orange slices, strawberry yogurt & a slice of cheese.
Eggs & Beans
We usually boil and slice eggs or fry one up (crack the yolk) and cut it into strips for easing picking. The beans are a mess. He tries to use the spoon, but usually he just uses his hands and it gets real messy but such a good breakfast filled with protein and fiber. We’ll also have some yogurt on the side. He has a big appetite in the morning!
Oatmeal can be boring to some people but it was my go-to breakfast every single morning when I was pregnant. To make it fun for the little ones, slice up some oranges and use berries to make little animal faces for them. They love picking at the fruit!
I like snacks that are easy for him to hold in one hand as he roams around the house. When he’s snacking he’s usually walking around so I don’t like to give him things that are too juicy because it’ll end up on the floor/rug and give me more of a mess to clean up. My go-to snacks are apple slices, zesty tomato corn puffs by Gerber Baby, cheddar cheese pieces, oat bars, banana (I feed it to him) & roasted seaweed (he loves it!).
Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwiches
Whenever I make dinner, I always try to make enough that we all get lunch the following day. This makes my life easier but also keeps our food costs down since my husband doesn’t need to buy a lunch at work. I usually will just heat up the food (without any added oil) in a pan on the stove since I don’t like microwaved food (and we don’t own one!). Pizza is a staple in our house. I make the sauce, buy the dough and top with pan fried red peppers.
I usually pair this with tomato soup for us but Atli isn’t into it. So he gets some sort of sliced fruit (apples, nectarines or peaches), yogurt and animal crackers or roasted seaweed.
Peanut Butter Rice Crackers
He’s super into peanut butter. I introduced it right at 6 months as per our doctors recommendation. It’s messy and hard to clean off of his hands and highchair but it’s a quick and easy meal idea when we don’t have leftovers. I pair it with fruit and cheese.
Sliced Bread with Peanut Butter
Another favourite but super messy. I don’t toast the bread usually and to make it extra fun I’ll slice up some bananas and cheese to make a sun and bear face. I use a few chocolate chips for the eyes.
Crackers and Hummus
This can be time consuming if you’re trying to do it all at the same time and get it done fast enough for your impatient toddler. I recommend having pre-cut carrots ready to go in the fridge and slices of real cheddar cheese (none of that processed stuff). Then you just need to put some hummus on crackers and top them with your carrots, cheese or fruit and you’re done!
Leftover Rice & Eggs
If I have leftover rice from dinner, I’ll fry up a scrambled egg, slice some cucumber and sometimes I’ll pair with edamame. I try not to give him too much edamame since it is soy which contains estrogen.
Pasta with Tomato Sauce
Hands down his favourite food. Also the messiest and I never learn my lesson. I always somehow put him in the cutest, light coloured outfits and forget to change him out before lunch time so on pasta eating days I end up with more clothes to wash. I like to pair all my meals with some fruit and veggies if possible. He’s also into these PC Organics Raspberry Beet Oat bars I found in the baby aisle (they are delicious) at Superstore.
Pasta with Olive Oil, Garlic & Long Beans
This is a nice meatless dinner meal I like to make and leftovers are just as delicious. I learned how to cook the beans like my husband’s italian nonna by boiling them in water for 15-20 minutes until soft then removing from heat and draining, adding olive oil and chop garlic and tossing the bean with some light salt. Atli loves mango so I cut it up like my mom did when we were kids and also he LOVES cheese (as you can probably tell form all of his meals) so he usually gets a slice of cheese with his lunch.