Meal Ideas for Picky Toddlers

Most parents have forgotten what it was like to be a toddler. These youngsters are busy exploring, do not sit still and are resilient enough to miss a meal or two. So they eat sporadically; enjoy a particular food one day and hate it the next; and like to graze. Yet, they probably get the nutrition they need. Parents must offer food choices, make mealtime fun and be creative and flexible in their approach to please fussy eaters.

  1. Food Variety

    • Give up on trying to force feed a traditional meal to toddlers. Instead, provide a variety of snack choices. A toddler's plate might be filled with sliced hot dogs, broccoli wedges, cooked and sliced carrots, hard boiled egg slices and apple wedges. Do not make your toddler try a new food if she does not want to, but provide options. Sometimes a piece of bread folded in half is more appealing than it is when flat.

    Make Meals Fun

    • Provide the opportunity for your toddlers to play in an acceptable way while eating. Put out dipping bowls with different condiments. Provide healthy options like cottage cheese or a mix of cream cheese and peanut butter. Apple sauce or pureed vegetables might be just what your child wants to dip his crackers in instead of eating them plain. Make a homemade shake for a meal with lots of fruits and low-fat yogurt. Use your imagination to add fun to traditional foods. Cut the crusts off sandwiches and put a smiley face on top of a burger or pancake.

    Be Creative

    • Combine foods into one easily eaten package like a cheeseburger-stuffed baked potato option. Hide healthy foods inside foods that toddlers like to eat. Zucchini bread or flax-seed cookies are options. Chop up carrots and celery and add them to meatballs or hamburgers. Make foods into different interesting colors, like serving up green eggs made with the water from steamed broccoli or spinach. Let your toddler help you make that peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then tell you how delicious it is because he made it.

    Be Flexible

    • Always have several options at the ready in case your toddler is especially picky. Keep some of your toddler's favorite meals in the cupboard or in the freezer. Most toddlers like fries and you can use other vegetables like the sweet potato or zucchini to prepare these--or, bake the fries instead of frying. Have vegetables sliced up and keep them in storage containers for a quick snack idea. Offer a breakfast item for dinner or a dinner item for breakfast. Toddlers do not care what they eat or when.

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  • Photo Credit Crying Toddler image by Mary Beth Granger from

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