Any Moms/dad’s Out There Know of Any Meals for Toddlers ?

Updated on May 11, 2018
M.A. asks from Tempe, AZ
9 answers

So my two year old will eat what I cook for him most of the time but other times he just wants to eat snacks . I have tried cooking different types of meals for him but he sometimes just won’t want to it . I’ll wrap the food up for later , Incase he gets hungry before bed but no luck , I’ll give him some fruit so he won’t go to bed on an empty stomach and he’s okay with it but then I can hear his stomach growling and makes me feel like I’m not doing my job as a mother. Do any parents out there recommend any home cooked meals that your little ones love ?

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answers from New York on

Make the "real food" look like snacks. Grilled chicken cut up into tiny chunks, cubes of cheese, tiny carrot sticks...a handful of "snacks" like that is a good meal!

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answers from Boston on

It depends how you define "dinner" and how you define "snacks." If snacks are just pretzels and crackers, then he cannot live on that. If dinner is a big plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and steamed spinach, he's going to be overwhelmed.

Let him start with finger foods, but make it real food. Some people use a sectioned plate, and some people even use something like a small muffin tin or an ice cube tray to have an array of foods in little sections. As long as your kid isn't the type to tip it over, you're fine.

Snacks should be things like small cubes of French toast (I make a batch and then freeze the slices between pieces of wax paper, so it's easy to take out one piece to defrost), halved grapes, sections of clementine (cut the big ones), cucumber, celery with peanut butter in the cavity (if he's a good chewer), carrot sticks, chicken nuggets (I make my own with a wheat germ & bread crumb coating), yogurt, cheese cubes, cubes of melon, berries, zucchini bread, etc. Think "colorful diet" and you'll probably cover all the bases. But, doesn't that list sound a lot like "dinner"?? It's the same food. Spread it out through the day.

Don't serve crackers and chips all the time, and don't buy snack bags. Kids wind up thinking that that is all the fun stuff as opposed to the food they "have to eat" at meals. Switch that up. And serve snacks sitting at a table, not wandering around the playroom.

Don't give too much quantity or too many choices at one time. It's overwhelming. And eat with him! Make dinner an enjoyable experience. Talk about the day, play "dinosaur eating trees" when you serve broccoli, and so on.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My advice is to offer real food as snacks. You can put it in a little reusable snack bag. Or in small containers. You can put small amounts on a little divided plate. If you don't offer him snack foods and don't have them available it won't be so much of a problem! My kids liked pieces of roast chicken with a little salt, pasta, hummus with crackers, avocado, cheese, ham, cherry tomatoes with basil, peanut butter, olives, green beans with butter, ravioli, baked beans, tuna fish, roast beef, baked potato, gilled cheese sandwich, quesadillas, a mini bean and cheese burrito, fried rice, etc. My daughter was not picky at all whereas my son was. I gave her whatever I was eating...just small portions. My son never wanted to sit very long as a toddler so sitting and eating was a struggle for him. My daughter was happy to sit and wanted whatever we were having...from salad to mild Indian curry! Just keep working with your son to get him to sit and eat at mealtimes. If he snacks too much he won't be hungry. He will get there. My son did! Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Just feed him pretty much what ever you eat (if it's not really spicy or salty).
Remember - his stomach is the size of his fist - it doesn't take much to fill it up.
Healthy snacks on and off all day are fine.
They do tend to graze.
His food intake will tick up a notch when he's having a growth spurt.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My 3 year old is rarely hungry in the evenings, and never eats much dinner. I keep her dinner plate with what ever was left after she says she is done. If she says she is hungry between the dinner and bed, I offer more dinner or as an alternative some fruit. With that said she always eats a big breakfast. Breakfasts are always health food like fruit, yogurt, whole wheat toast, oatmeal etc. As long as she is getting a good breakfast, lunch and a couple snacks I don’t worry much about dinner. But I do require she sit with us during dinner, and not just take a bite and go play.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I agree with the suggestions below about just taking food like cut up cheese, chicken, grapes, etc. and making a meal of it. If it doesn't look like a standard dinner, that's ok.

Good advice I got, and it saved me, was often keeping leftovers, and kind of piecing together bits and pieces - and offering a plate with a bit here and there (from our meal that evening with some from last night) often served ahead of our meal if they couldn't wait (ours often ate before us while we prepared the evening meal and then they would sit with us while we ate, but could get down, or whatever.. we made it fun so it wasn't a struggle and we enjoyed our meal also).

Some evenings though we had toast and eggs. French toast and pancakes. I just made sure they had some fruit cut up to round it out. It's little cubes - a mixed plate.

So it looks like a bunch of fun snacks. As they got older (3 and 4) they ate more like regular dinners, and by 5 it looked a lot more like ours and by school it was our dinners entirely.

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answers from Atlanta on

Lots of good suggestions below--I'll add that we never had store-bought snack foods such as candy, chips, pretzels, cookies, etc in the house when our kids were little. Cheese and whole grain crackers, houmous and whole grain bread, Cheerios, small pieces of veggies with a bean spread, peanut butter on crackers/bread, pieces of fruit... those all have nutritional value and are easy to eat in those small toddler-sized portions. Sometimes we had 'breakfast for dinner' (leftover whole grain pancakes or waffles, scrambled eggs, dry cereal with milk and fruit). Remember that any food they eat will nourish them, so they don't have to eat a full 'meal' to get what they need. But most important, avoid battles with him over eating. It's hard to do, however you need to trust that as long as you offer him food and drink, he WILL eat enough to meet his body's needs. Toddlers do not starve or deprive themselves when food is available. Good luck with it!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Every parent has their own philosophy on eating. Here is mine, YMMV.
I make one dinner for the family. I don't make kid-specific food. However, I do try to put at least 1 thing in every meal that I know the kids will eat. For example, baked fish with parmesean potatoes and steamed carrots. They might (or might not) try the fish and same with the potatoes, but I know that they will eat the carrots. I put a little of everything on their plates but I don't force them to eat anything and if they have seconds and thirds of carrots but don't eat the fish, I don't say a word.

Dinner is around 6, and bedtime snack is at 8, and there is no food in between. For snack, I give them several healthy choices that they can have, they choose which they want. If they do not eat some part of their dinner, so be it.I do not try to save it or reheat it. If they don't eat any protein at dinner, I do try to get some protein in them at snack time, so choices might include yogurt, bagel with cream cheese, etc. I have never sent my kids to bed hungry.

Mine are older now, and this has worked pretty well in the long run. We don't have power struggles over food, and even my pickier eater is starting to try almost anything I put on the table now. He doesn't always like it, but he will usually try at least a bite.

The only exception to my rule about separate foods is very spicy foods, which I love but I think is asking a little too much of them. In that case, I will make a portion of the food with less spice to it. For example, in making chicken stir fry, I pull out a small portion of chicken and veggies before I add the spicy sauce, or when grilling chicken, I put blackening seasonings on the piece that I will eat and putting something less spicy on the piece for them. It's the same basic food, not 2 totally separate meals so the same rules apply otherwise - I put some on their plate and they can eat it or not.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I just wanted to agree with others saying small portions of what you're eating for meals is perfect. At 2 they do pretty much eat anything you put in front of them so choose the good stuff. My kids ate really well from 9 mos-3 and then for my son it's gone down hill from there! Haha! They do have good options for portable snack packs now too with ham/cheese/pretzels/dried fruits, etc.

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