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Food ideas for toddlers

Help! My 18 mth old doesn't like to eat any meals! He regularly refuses lunch and dinner and eats quite little for breakfast. He likes fruit (any time), soy yogurts, soy sausages, dried fruit (raisins), nut butters tofu. But anything resembling a full meal, and he looks at me like I'm torturing  him! :( I'll add that I make sure he hasn't filled himself up before a meal. Any ideas why he's like this?
Also any recipes that worked for you will be great. Any ideas about toddler food actually, Thanks!!

firstly, he's a toddler, they're known to be picky eaters!!! (As a nanny, I'm speaking from experience!) What I've found they like are foods that are "interactive" (ie that they can feed themselves) So get foods that they can hold in their hands. How does he like pb&j? That's been a standby for the kiddo (26mo) that I'm caring for right now for quite some of my faves is a soy-sausage patty sandwich w/ (n/m)ayo and sweet pickle relish. Have you tried a mac n cheeze (with finger sized al dente large tube noodles?) Lightly steamed veggies, cut into toddler finger size are also good.

Just keep in mind that kids this age are snackers....there've been studies done on toddlers showing that when given an assortment of "snacks", over the course of a week, what they chose combined into a balanced and healthy diet (this study was done back in the 90's, I was in high school then and don't remember much more than that...). Remembering this has saved me tons of stress, and I hope it will come as comfort for you as well.


Agree with their love of interactive foods. I have found that dipping is always a winner. Hummus with vegetable sticks and breadsticks could be successful. My mom used to offer me a variety of cut vegetables, crackers, and cheese because she said the small portions encouraged me to eat more. Kids are easily overwhelmed at that age.

Don't worry though, he won't starve himself. Just don't resort the toaster pastry and french fry diet.


Our doctor told us to look at kids nutrition in two day periods instead of one. Our daughter likes to eat what we're eating, and likes us to sit with her. Some things she loves are:
sweet potatoes, rice pudding, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes, tofu, pita and hummus, veggies and dip, any kind of bread, fruit, almond butter, apple butter, peanut butter, and anything involving cream cheese.

It sounds like you're doing fine. Some kids are more picky than others, but as long as you offer them a variety of foods, and don't make a big deal about it, they won't starve. Even if they don't eat for a day. I'd love to share recipes, if you want.

It also seems that younger kids like really strong flavors, like lemon, olives, capers, pickles.


Ugh, we are going thru this with our 2 1/2 yo right now.  When we first came home from China she could eat my dh under the table and he can eat.  Now I feel like I am always fighting with her at lunch and dinner.  Breakfast is usually good, cereal or oatmeal, and alot of it.  Snacks are things she loves.  I try to give her healthy options, apples, mandarins, snappea crisps, nuts, beans, bananas, yogurt, dips are great too, but she is like my father and except for mac n cheese she doesnt like any noodle but spaghetti noodles.

We just moved too and we are busy with getting the house together and what not that I don't really have an hr for making lunch or dinner.  the other night she helped me make a great vegetable soup, then refused to eat it.

I will be following this thread for the suggestions, but you know what.  I don't want this stress between us, so healthy snacks all day long then and if she doesn't eat at meal time then she doesn't eat at mealtime.

Good luck.


I agree with the idea of letting him be interactive with his food. Here's something my mom used to do with me when I was little and being a picky eater.

You can buy some tortillas (if he can eat them) and let him dress it up with nut butter and fruit (which I was happy to see is on his list). When I was little, my mom let me do that, and I "painted" the peanut butter on my "canvas" (tortilla) and made pictures on it with slices of fruit and little julienne carrots. It was really fun to make, always good to eat, and it never failed for me when I was being picky. When my mom couldn't get me to eat anything else, she would say, "Let's get out the paint supplies, then."

Just an idea.


I think having lots of options on the table is a great idea.  It may not flow with the full idea of dinner, but having a bowl of grapes, carrots or a banana on the table is nice.  Allow them to pick what and how much they want.  If it looks like they want the whole bowl (only to waste it) then stick with "Once you finish this spoonful you can have another." method.

Not giving them a big plate full of food is also a good idea.  You do not want to overwhelm them or take away choices they may want to make.  If every choice they have is a good one (ala not the french fry and yogurt diet) then let them choose.

Also get fun plate, maybe from a local thrift store in bright colors or cool patterns.  Have you little one help pick them.  Cool bowls and funky silverware might inspire them as well.  I have a set of condiment bowls that are flowers.  I love to use them and imagine kids would have a blast dipping out of fun shapes.

Honestly, as long as the kids eat a healthy diet overall, exhibit healthy and active behavior and are not underweight, listless or emotionless, I say it is all good.


You might find this link helpful, too.


Thanks all for the great suggestions, some worked and some didn't but I'm grateful for the input. It's easy enough choosing a vegan diet for ourselves but making sure you're doing the best for your child can be hard if not frustrating at times even if you're not vegan.
I'd love to share recipes with you nmpixie, it will help us both. I can't send messages as I'm not a subscriber but feel free to send me one if you can.  :)


I'm not either. Yu can email me at newmexicopixie at yahoo dot com, if you want.


Speaking as a father and as one whose wife runs an at-home daycare:

Part of it may be control. Kids at that age don't control too much in their lives, so sometimes, they latch onto whatever they can. Some refuse to eat, some delay potty training, some mess with sleep schedules.

Try giving your toddler a "choice" in what's for dinner. Pick a couple of options, and let them pick one. Let them help in little ways with food and meal preparation. They'll feel more positve about the food because they picked it out, and helped make it. Make sure to praise their helping and culinary skills.

Also, set a time and time limit for eating. When the time is over, food is gone, and there are no snacks, except for scheduled ones. If the "interactive" aspect doesn't work, they will at least soon figure out that there is a time to eat, and if they don't... they may get hungry.

That last part will include some crankyness. Brace yourslef for that.


What does everyone think about soy for little guys? I've heard that too much can be bad for them?


What does everyone think about soy for little guys? I've heard that too much can be bad for them?

Welcome Veggie911.  Let me recommend that you do not resurrect old posts but instead use the Search feature to the upper left in the sidebar.

Currently there is a topic in News & Debate about Vegan Males and soy.  Please check that out!

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