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Meal Time for Toddlers

by Tara on February 25, 2013
category: 1 – 3 year (toddler),Children’s Health,Feeding

Choosing a meal our child will eat sometimes feels like a gamble.  I can hardly predict the days my child will have a healthy appetite and which days he will turn his nose up at any offering.  Over the year he has been on solid foods we have tried a variety of meals for our tot with mixed results.  Though it sort of hurts my feelings when my little guy snubs my cooking, I have to remind myself that his appetite swings don’t necessarily have to do with my stove-top skills, other factors might influence his desire to eat or not eat, like teething or a growth spur. I try to keep positive about the whole thing and make sure I offer him a variety of healthy meals and snacks throughout the day.  It’s all I can do to ensure that he is getting steady diet of fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy, and grains.

The following is a list of some of our winning breakfast combinations.


Proteins and Veggies

Egg Scrambles can be a great start.  This meal provides an opportunity to introduce some delicious super foods to your child’s diet.  I often use spinach, kale, or baby bok choy.  Diced mushrooms also make a good addition to this dish.

I warm a small amount of olive oil first and add my greens and mushrooms.  I stir them frequently until they are cooked.  While the veggies are cooking, I crack and scramble the eggs adding a little milk for a fluffier consistency when cooked.  Once my veggies are cooked I add the eggs to the pan.  Once in a while I will also add a small amount of ham for flavor and an additional source of protein.  I stir the mix until it starts to harden and then add some shredded cheese, because who doesn’t like a little cheese?! Once the cheese melts I remove the pan from the heat and allow the eggs to cool before serving.


Yogurt is a great choice  You’d be hard pressed to find a child who does not like yogurt and my toddler is no exception.  There is an array of yogurts out there to choose from and I change it up, usually selecting ones that have fruit mixed in and whatever is on sale.  If my child refuses to eat everything else on his plate, he will most likely still be interested in yogurt so it it a breakfast staple at our house.


Oatmeal can be a hit or miss but it is a great start. This was not an immediate hit with our guy.  I had to offer it to him several times before her took the bait, but he finally went for it and now enjoys it a few times a week.  There are all sorts of flavors you can find at the market, our little guy prefers the type with brown sugar added.

Toast can also be a great whole grain. This is a simple addition to any breaskfast plate. Make sure you choose whole grain breads that are not enriched.  My child enjoys toast and my hopes are that he never develops a taste for plain white bread!


Fresh fruit is a great choice but you have to find the right one.  It seems my toddler goes through phases of liking or disliking certain fruits, so I go through a rotation of melon, bananas, apples, pears, cuties, strawberries, and grapes.  This might be the first thing he goes for the last thing on earth he wants on his breakfast tray but I offer it always anyway.

As you can see, variety is the secret to my success.  If my son doesn’t eat his fresh fruit, I snuck a little in with the yogurt.  If he doesn’t end up eating all of his yogurt, he gets some dairy in his eggs.

Feeding a toddler can feel discouraging some days, but with a little creativity and consistency, you can make sure your child is getting the nutrients he needs to thrive.  Still trying to get the most out of your child’s meal times?  Here is a great guide to your child’s overall nutrition:

What to feed

  • Low-fat milk (It’s okay to switch to low-fat or nonfat milk once your child is older than 2, but check with your child’s doctor if you have questions.)
  • Other dairy like diced or grated cheese; low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, pudding.
  • Iron-fortified cereals like rice, barley, wheat, oats, mixed cereals.
  • Other grains whole wheat bread and crackers, cut-up bagels, rice cakes, ready-to-eat cereal, pasta, rice.
  • Fruits, sliced fresh or canned, avoid those in excessive sugar.
  • Dried fruit, soaked until soft so it won’t pose a choking hazard most kids like apples, apricots, peaches, pears, dates, pitted prunes.
  • Vegetables, cooked and cut up into pieces they won’t choke on.
  • Proteins like eggs; cut-up or ground meat like turkey meat or poultry; boneless fish; tofu; beans; smooth peanut butter)
  • Combo foods like macaroni and cheese, casseroles
  • Fruit and vegetable juices (100% juice)

How much per day

One serving for a child this age is about a quarter the size of an adult serving.

  • 2 cups dairy (1 cup milk or yogurt; 1 cup = 1 1/2 ounces natural cheese or 2 ounces processed cheese)
  • 4-5 ounces grains (1 ounce = 1 slice of bread; 1/3 cup ready-to-eat cereal, or 1/4 cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups fruit (fresh, frozen, canned, dried and/or 100 percent juice) Emphasize whole fruits rather than juice.
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetables
  • 3 to 4 ounces protein (1 ounce of meat, poultry, or fish; 1/4 cup cooked dry beans; or 1 egg)

Have a favorite that is sure to please? Share it in our comments section!


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