2 year olds should be eating 3 meals and 2 snacks from a variety of food groups. But we all know, toddler years can be some of the most finicky years in terms of eating. While the science is clear about the kinds of foods our little ones must be eating, it can be quite hard to get children to be eating healthy foods regularly. Especially, if you have a little picky eater on hand.
But don’t worry, I have many picky eater tips and meal ideas for toddlers that even the pickiest eater enjoys. Hopefully my experience as a mother will come handy to you today.
First let us look at,
What a toddler should be eating in a day?
In order to ensure the best nutrition for toddlers ideally every meal plate must include a balance of whole foods like grains, vegetables/fruit and some protein source.
Depending on the child’s weight and growth requirements the quantity eaten may differ. But, if you want to know more in detail about how much a toddler should eat in day you can read my previous post here.
Now, I know what you are thinking, “how do I get my picky eater to eat Whole Foods, most days I am wondering what to feed my picky 2-year-old?”
This blog post will take you through different picky eater meal ideas that are both acceptable to little one and healthy.
What to feed a picky toddler? Picky eater meal ideas master list
Breakfast ideas for picky eaters
Wondering, what to feed your picky eater for breakfast? Here is a list of super simple, tasty and healthy breakfast dishes your picky eater will enjoy.
- Toast with butter and homemade jam and a glass of milk.
- Toast with peanut butter and a drizzle of honey with a glass of milk.
- Whole grain waffles with nut butter and jam of choice.
- Whole grain pancakes (Try these toddler-friendly millet pancakes, nutrient dense and so tasty your picky eater won’t notice the difference.)
- Scrambled eggs with fruit of choice.
- Yogurt bowl with toddler’s favorite cereal and fruit toppings.
- Low added sugar breakfast cereal. (Add in fruit, nut butter, chopped toasted nuts and a combination of your picky toddler favorites as toppings to boost the nutrient content of the meal.)
- Breakfast bars. (We like this recipe for breakfast bars for kids. You can serve with fresh yogurt and jam.)
- French toast with a glass of milk.
- Berry oats porridge sweetened with honey and topped with fruit and yogurt.
You can use a combination of these ideas for your weekly breakfast meal plan depending on what your picky eater tends to like.
My rule of thumb when serving toddlers is to always have one food that I am sure will be eaten and a few new options as exposures.
Snack ideas for picky eaters
- Crackers, fruit and cheese platter.
- Cheese toasties.
- Energy bars.
- Energy balls.
- High protein smoothies.
- Fruit and yogurt bowl.
- No-bake cheesecake cups.
- Hard boiled egg with fruit of choice.
- Egg muffins with cheese sticks.
- Peanut butter muffins with cheese sticks and fruit.
For more such healthy yummy snacks for kids check out The Easy Toddler Snack Book. This digital book contains 36 easy and healthy snack recipes made using Whole Foods.
Lunch ideas for picky eaters
These ideas also make great bento box lunch ideas for school. Save this picky eater food list by bookmarking this page for future reference.
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with cheese sticks and crackers on the side.
- Tuna sandwich with a light mayo spread.
- Vegetable and potato wrap (easy to add your picky eaters favorites vegetables and a simple potato patty with a light cilantro and date dressing.)
- Coconut lentil and rice.
- Lentil Bolognese.
- Fish cakes with a side salad.
- Noodles with peanut butter dressing and a whole boiled egg.
- Lentil rice with a side of yogurt.
- Roast chicken sandwich with a side salad.
- Cold pasta salad with vegetables of your choice and some applesauce and cheese stick on the side.
Dinner ideas for picky eaters
Children should be eating family meals and it is best to avoid getting into the cycle of making separate meals to suit the child’s taste. Instead try and incorporate your child’s liking into the family meal plan so that there is always something the child will eat from the family meal.
Family style dinners can work well in this case, since everyone gets to pick and choose what they like from the platter and build their own meal plate. Think taco night, burrito night, grain bowls etc.
Let us look at some great dinner ideas for picky eaters to enjoy along side family.
- Grain bowls (includes grains like millets, brown rice, barley, choice of raw or lightly sauteed vegetables and a protein of choice with a tahini or honey mustard dressing.)
- Tacos platter
- Family friendly pizza with some salad.
- Soup and pasta.
- One pot chicken and rice meal.
- Fish sticks.
- Mac n Cheese.
- Spaghetti bake.
- Loaded baked potatoes.
Picky eater tips for toddlers
- Most toddlers go through picky eating phases, these are expected as a part of development and unless your toddler’s food choices aren’t just limited to 3-4 foods, there is no need to panic.
- Children are intuitive eaters and respond to their body’s growing need. What may feel to you as a ‘dairy obsessed phase’ or a ‘carb obsession’ may simply be your child eating to meet his needs.
- Research shows us that parents who follow responsive eating practices at home are more likely to help their children develop positive food relationships.
- Respect your child’s appetite and move away from focusing on quantity of food eaten at each meal.
- Instead focus on providing multiple exposures to disliked food in the form of new recipes or simply by offering small amounts alongside other favored foods.
- The family goal should be to eat a balanced diet together. If there are different rules for the children and for you, there is bound to be friction. Children learn by observing you. The ‘do as I do’ approach in parenting is more effective compared to the ‘do as I say’ approach.
- Go grocery shopping with your toddler, ask him to pick produce of his choice and cook together. These simple activities get toddlers interested in the food on their plate.
- Allow messes, the more toddlers touch and feel their food the more likely they will eat the food.
- Encourage toddlers to self-feed. Offer simple finger foods at each meal as practice if your toddler hasn’t yet started self-feeding as a way to transition to self-feeding.
Hope you found these ideas useful. Book mark this blog for the next time you wonder what to feed your picky toddler.
Comment below your picky eater’s favorite meals. We could all use some ideas.