Of course, nothing is guaranteed with a toddler; it seems that food they loved yesterday they can’t stand today. Not to mention that food on the ground seems so much more interesting than food in the mouth. However, no matter what the trials of feeding your toddler may be, you can rest assured that other mother’s are going through the same thing. Moreover, your toddler knows when they’re hungry and when they’re not. If they don’t want to eat there is no need to lose patience, worry, or spend hours at meal time trying to push a spoonful of soup into their clamped little mouths. Being a toddler means having a little power to feed yourself, so try and let them do just that.
When they are hungry it’s best to maximize the nutrition (not necessarily the amount of food) they get. Since they tend to be picky eaters around this time, it’s a good idea to be creative. Have a nice repertoire of food they like and experimental foods for feeding time. Also be prepared with a number of different foods to try. As previously mentioned, favorites of Monday and not necessarily favorites of Tuesday, and food they hate one day can turn out to be a favorite the next week. Since toddlers are so unpredictable, be prepared to serve a variety of little things.
Breakfasts can be a little hard as everyone seems to have to get ready at the same time. Sometimes getting food made for your toddler is such a challenge that you end up turning to the frozen food section of your local grocer…okay, stop there! You don’t have to feed them junk just because you are busy or in a hurry. Here are some simple and healthy options for both a leisurely or whirlwind morning.
Toast: Spread it with some butter and cut it into long strips for them to pick up and munch on. It gives them the power of feeding themselves and you can get some nutrition in by using whole wheat, oats, or grain breads. You can also spread with a sugar-free jelly for a new twist.
Another twist on breakfast bread is making French toast. Even without anything on it, it seems to go over well with toddlers as it is a little sweet and very easy to eat independently. You can serve it with some fruit or an apple cinnamon mix for added flavor.
Pancakes: These are a great idea as you can cook them before hand and freeze them for easy access on any given morning. Just pop the frozen pancake in the toaster and spread with butter. If the pancakes are small you can give your toddler the whole thing to pick up and eat. Otherwise, cut it into squares or strips. For added flavor, or to switch up things on your toddler to keep it interesting, try making apple cinnamon pancakes or blueberry pancakes.
Banana oatmeal: Although this doesn’t cater to self feeding, at least not without a huge mess, it does satisfy a picky eater and is nice and soft on the teeth. It also gives you a chance to sit down and have a lower key meal with your toddler.
Try soft oatmeal bars as well for something that your toddler can hold themselves. Have them eat it with a glass of milk to obtain the calcium and other nutrients they need. It’ll also help to fill them up a bit so they aren’t hungry in two hours.
Mixed Berry Salad and Yogurt: Again yogurt isn’t exactly finger food, but the berries are! Toddlers just love the sweetness of berries and they are easy and soft to eat. Try mixing up some of your favorites to share with your toddler. In between bites you can get some yogurt in and the combination will generally bring a smile. If only the berries work, try putting the yogurt into a berry smoothie and serve it with toast or something similar.
Scrambled Eggs: This is a popular and very easy dish to swing in the morning. You can even make it the night before or freeze and reheat in the morning. Scrambled eggs are easy for your toddler to pick up and eat on their own, which is great, and they also contain some excellent ingredients for nutrition. Try adding a little cheese, ham, soft bacon, or veggies (spinach, tomatoes) to the mix as well. Avoid adding extra salt at all costs!
Sausage, mushroom, and potatoes: This little medley is an excellent way to add variety and choice to a toddler’s menu. Just peal the skin off the sausages for easy eating and skillet fry the medley together. Be sure the potatoes are well cooked and soft before serving (you might want to boil them a bit first to make sure they are soft enough to easy eating.) Add tomatoes for an additional veggie!
Sausage/egg biscuit sandwich: Here’s a little something you might even eat now, and it’s easy to make, store, and serve. Just be sure you aren’t substituting a greasy fast food chain biscuit sandwich with the healthy one you can make at home. For this you can use ground sausage, Canadian bacon, or simply lunch meat ham. You can add an egg if you want as well. Put a thin egg and slice of cheese on a nice thin and soft biscuit for a perfect breakfast meal. Cut the sandwich into squares and serve.
Quiche: (eggs, mushrooms, ham, cheese, thin crust) This is a great breakfast for the whole family as you can make a whole dish and then everyone can have a slice. Or you can bake it in a cupcake tin making separate little rounds for everyone in the family. Try to use a thin and low sugar crust, or go crustless. Also experiments with other veggies, meats, or cheeses. (salmon and swiss is always a good choice!)
Your choices are endless and nothing has to take an hour to prepare in the morning. Your toddler’s healthy diet doesn’t have to make you late in the morning! Try making the meal the night before, or making parts of it the night before so throwing it together in easy in the morning.
Nothing is sure with a toddler, but if you are prepared for this and have easy, loved, and healthy foods on hand they’ll be no need to stress about it.