A healthy diet for toddlers should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, protein, and healthy fat. As much as possible, avoid empty calories such as candy and soda, processed foods, added sugars, and saturated or trans fats. Keep reading for some healthy meal ideas your toddler will actually want to eat!
- Fruit smoothie – You can throw almost anything into a fruit smoothie. Spinach, avocado, and other veggies can easily be disguised in a delicious fruit smoothie.
- Yogurt bowl – Alternatively, consider creating a yogurt bowl for your little one. A yogurt bowl could contain anything from chocolate chips and nuts to fruit and cereal, making it a real morning treat.
- Egg cups – Any meal that is easy for parents to make is a win-win. These yummy breakfast staples can even be made ahead of time and stored for quicker mornings. Simply fill a muffin tin with an egg and milk mixture and add your desired ingredients, such as veggies, cheese, or breakfast sausage.
- Banana pancakes – 3 simple ingredients (banana, eggs, and flour) combine to make fluffy and soft pancakes that are perfect for babies and toddlers!
- Applesauce mini muffins – Another great make-ahead option are breakfast muffins. One variety loved by toddlers are applesauce muffins. Ingredients include whole wheat flour, applesauce, and cinnamon! Your whole family will fight over this delicious treat.
- Quesadillas – Quesadillas are a hit with most kids (and adults too!) After all, who doesn’t love a good dose of cheese and bread? You can add a variety of healthy ingredients like grilled chicken, black beans, bell peppers, spinach, or squash according to your toddler’s tastes. Serve with a side of salsa, guacamole, or sour cream for dipping.
- Mini bagel pizzas – Top some mini whole wheat bagels with pizza ingredients such as tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni. (Bonus: can be made dairy-free or gluten-free, as desired.)
- Tomato soup with cheesy bread dippers – The ultimate comfort food makes a great lunchtime treat for you and your little one. Plus, it’s fun to eat!
- Turkey or ham roll–ups – There are many ways to make pinwheels, but some of the most popular include turkey and cheese or ham and cheese inside a tortilla.
- “Deconstructed” Cobb salad – A sectioned plate with the key ingredients makes a fun finger food for your toddler: turkey, avocado, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, tomato, fresh chunks of mozzarella cheese, cucumber, and ranch.
- “Chicken Nugget Parm” – Elevate the classic toddler meal of chicken nuggets by topping them with cheese and sauce to make kid-friendly chicken parm.
- Pasta – Whether you decide to go with mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, or chicken alfredo, kids of all ages can’t get enough of a good, hearty pasta dish.
- Hamburger sliders – Take the classic adult favorite and make it toddler-sized by using delicious Hawaiian rolls and mini patties. Serve with a side of veggie tots or sweet potato fries to elevate this dish to a healthier level.
- Steak and potatoes – Here’s another meal that the whole family will enjoy just as much as your toddler. Use a tender cut of meat like ribeye or filet and cut it up into small bite-size chunks perfect for little hands.
- Salmon and rice – If you can get your toddler to eat fish, salmon is a very healthy option for their developing minds. Slice it into small strips and serve over a bed of rice to get some whole grains in their diet as well.
- Bananas or apples with peanut butter – Get some protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients in your toddler with this delicious and fun snack!
- Trail mix – Trail mix provides energy, variety, and a great taste! Make your own toddler-friendly trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and even candy. Consider adding other toddler favorites such as Goldfish, Chex Mix, pretzels, and Cheerios.
- Veggie slices – Toddlers love any fun finger foods that require dipping. Serve up some sliced carrots, bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, etc., with a side of hummus or ranch.
- Avocado toast – For a heartier snack any time of the day, consider preparing some avocado toast. It can be topped with other ingredients like eggs or tomatoes and cut into bite-size chunks for a toddler-approved snack.
- Fruit skewers – Make your toddler’s daily serving of fruit a fun treat by slicing up their favorites (like strawberries, bananas, and apples) and putting them on a stick!
Tips for Parents
Every balanced meal should include a protein, a complex carb, fruit or veggies, and some healthy fat. Remember to try to include a fruit or vegetable as a side for every meal!
Don’t forget that the best way to get your kids to eat healthy is to model healthy eating yourself. Toddler meals don’t have to be complicated! Keep meals simple and fun.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s diet, our friendly board-certified pediatricians in Arvada are here to help! Call today to set up an appointment.