Your little one has grown out of the baby food phase, you’ve been through the baby led weaning phase, and now you’re getting into “big” food. Congrats! Things should be easier now, right?
If you’re reading this post, it’s probably because you’ve arrived where most of us mamas end up: toddler mealtime challenges. Tantrums. Food throwing. Eating too much. Eating too little. So. Many. Things.
Today, I’m sharing what has and hasn’t worked for me in this phase of life as well as tips and tricks from other mamas who have been or are currently going through it. Keep on scrolling down for the ULTIMATE guide to toddler mealtimes!
TIP: Make toddler mealtimes easier for everyone with healthy, pre-portioned meals. Little Spoon Toddler Plates are my go-to for quick, ready-to-go meals!
Toddler healthy eating schedule
Every toddler is on a different schedule, depending on nap times, parent work schedules, etc. However, the provided sample schedule below is a great starting point for healthy toddler mealtimes!
Sample toddler eating schedule
- BREAKFAST – 7am
- MORNING SNACK – 9:30am
- LUNCH – 11:30am
- AFTERNOON SNACK – 3pm
- DINNER – 6pm
RELATED: 30+ Healthy Toddler Snack Ideas
Tips for fussy eaters
Make mealtimes fun
This is probably my #1 tip for making toddler mealtimes go smoothly! When I was focused on forcing my little one to eat all of his food and not throw a tantrum, it felt like there was so much drama during mealtime. Since my focus has shifted to making mealtimes fun and light hearted, he does so much better!
If you’re looking for ways to make toddler mealtimes fun, scroll down for more tips and tricks!
It’s ok to not like certain foods
This one was tough for me, because I felt like my toddler NEEDED to be open-minded and like every single vegetable I gave him. We eat veggies in this house! Shouldn’t he just naturally live that lifestyle?
Ultimately, I realized this was more about my pride than about my toddler. Once I began telling him that it’s ok if he didn’t want to eat certain veggies that he didn’t like, things went a lot smoother. And often times he realized that he did actually like his veggies and ended up eating them!
Give little bits of food at a time
Another great tip for avoiding loads of drama at mealtimes is to just give little bits of food at a time! If your toddler is in a food throwing stage, then this is one of the best tricks for settling it. Setting an entire meal in front of your little one can be overwhelming, but just a few “snack” sized items may be easier!
Our trick was to have my toddler’s plate at the table and would serve him little bits at a time. Once he finished one portion, he could then have a little bit more. This solved our food throwing problem and now he eats most of his meals!
This tip and trick is a CLASSIC. Is your little one protesting veggies? Hide them! Make broccoli tater tots, sweet potato pancakes, avocado egg salad, zucchini bread, or black bean meatballs. There are so many ways to get veggies in! And remember, this is just a phase.
Another option is to provide toddler-friendly meals that they will LOVE, like these Little Spoon Toddler Plates! Already portioned and created for toddler taste buds, they’re great for keeping on hand for busy days.
Celebrate healthy eating
Don’t make a big deal out of treats and splurges, as that can put too much value on those types of foods. However, you CAN make a big deal out of healthy eating! Did your little one eat his veggies? Congratulate him! Did he eat all of his food? Give him a pat on the back. Keep a positive mindset towards healthy eating to set your little one up for success!
Ideas for making toddler mealtimes fun
As adults, mealtime is more than just survival and nutrition. It’s an experience that we enjoy! So why not make it a fun and exciting experience for our toddlers as well? Here are some great tips from fellow moms about how to make toddler mealtimes fun:
- Turn on fun or relaxing music.
- Sing songs together in between bites.
- Clap and celebrate bites!
- Provide plenty of affirmation, like “good job!” or “wow, that’s a big bite!”
- Use fun and exciting utensils, plates, or bibs.
- Laugh and play with your little one through mealtime as much as possible.
Easy & healthy toddler meal ideas
- Creamy Healthy Chicken Enchilada Skillet
- Healthy Chicken Broccoli Pasta Casserole
- Sweet Potato Soup
- Oatmeal Pumpkin Pancakes
- Avocado Pasta Recipe
- Healthy Lasagna
What are your go-to toddler mealtime solutions? Be sure to comment below!