Food your toddler will want to eat

One of my favourite things to post on Instagram (I’m “laptops2lullabies“) are photos of the meals I make for D. They are never too fancy, but it’s all about the presentation.
When D was about 16 months, I started following Michelle’s idea for “Muffin Tin Monday,” and it’s been a really fun way to present their food on Mondays. She has some really beautiful creations! Mine aren’t this pretty, but I will probably pull out more stops once the kids are older.
Sometimes I make muffin tin meals on other days, too, just because it’s cute. It’s a great way to make a bunch of random leftovers seem appetizing. It’s also the perfect way for arranging little dollar-sized pancakes.
Here’s what I’ve learned about making and presenting toddler meals:
  • They get a kick out of different containers and dishes. D loves eating out of muffin tins, but he also just likes when I use silicone muffin liners as cups or holders.
  • They appreciate having tiny-sized “real” items. We only use plastic “baby” cutlery until the first birthday. Last Christmas, I bought D a set of two tiny bamboo spoons at a Pampered Chef party. I think they were designed to serve dip, but they’re the perfect size for a toddler. He either uses those, or stainless steel forks and spoons (the dessert-sized forks from my cutlery set). I’m going to buy some tiny (but sturdy) glasses soon, too, because he loves drinking from them at his Nannie’s house.
  • They like to keep things separated. I get it. I don’t like some of my food touching each other, either. D’s not weird about this, but he does seem to prefer having his ingredients separated out in certain cases. It gives him a chance to review something before he eats it, AND it prevents him from refusing a whole section of food because he doesn’t like one item he spotted inside. For example, when I make nachos for D, I leave them “deconstructed.” He loves eating the meat, cheese, and chips separately, whereas he wouldn’t touch it “all together.”
  • They like food to be fun. D loves when I make his pancakes into a snowman (complete with pretzel arms and a chocolate-chip face) or make “banana people” using a little peanut butter and a few raisins. It’s really easy to do, and they go crazy for it.
  • They are more likely to try something new if you’re low-key about it. I personally hated a lot of foods growing up, so I’m not a big food enforcer. I serve D child-friendly versions of what we’re having for dinner, and if he’s never tried part of the meal before, I keep it separated so it doesn’t upset him. I’ll make him a plate of mini chicken wraps and put four little strips of green or red pepper on the side. At the end of the meal, there might be three left, or there might just be one bite missing, but I’m going to keep offering it.
  • They love to dip. Yes, it’s messier, but toddlers are just messy in general. I serve D little sticks of French toast with a tiny cup (a silicone muffin liner) of syrup for dipping, or taco chips with a tiny cup of salsa. They see US dipping, and it looks pretty fun. I think it’s also a good way to introduce new tastes (like Caesar dressing or sour cream) on their own terms.
“Mouse pancakes” are always a big hit

Tacos are a favourite with D. See his little bamboo spoon?

He loves eggs, so I make sure to offer them regularly. I’ve heard too many stories of kids who didn’t like them for years simply because they didn’t eat them when they were little.

Fresh fruit makes the muffin tin extra-pretty!

Peanut butter is messy with a two-year-old, so I always keep it in the centre of the cracker — keeps little hands cleaner!

“Banana people” made with peanut butter and raisins

Sometimes I add sprinkles to his yogurt for a treat — they make it so colourful!

What a festive pancake dish!

Usually D eats regular chicken wraps, but I guess I served deconstructed chicken wraps on this day (better for dipping). Notice the tiny piles of peppers for him to try?

I made this lunch entirely from random leftovers and almost-empty containers in the fridge, but it looks so cute when it’s all put together, doesn’t it?

Deconstructed nachos. I slice up D’s baby carrots if they’re too fat, so he doesn’t choke. Once a worrier, always a worrier!

Tuna salad on melba toast, apple slices, crackers, and tomato strips — see him trying the tomato?!

Slice breaded chicken fingers into little strips, and they look fancier … kinda …

I’m always looking for new ways to get D to eat — anyone have any tips for me?


6 Comments on “Food your toddler will want to eat

  1. I really like these meal ideas! I have a 12 mo old now and am looking for new meal ideas; and he's at the stage where he wants to feed himself independently, but with only 5 teeth, he can only handle so much.

  2. I love the different dishes, especially the muffin pan. What a good idea to help shake things up from the boring routine.

  3. This is helpful! I love the muffin pan idea. So often Eli's dinner just gets chucked on his high chair tray. Luckily, he hasn't been a fussy eater yet, but these little fun tricks will hopefully help us when he inevitably starts hating every single meal I put in front of him!

So what do you think?

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