Toddlers can be fussy eaters and catering for them can be exasperating. Most parents want to get some healthy food into their child without the hassle of cooking separate meals for children and adults. So here are some meal ideas and toddler recipe suggestions that provide a nutritious variety of tastes and textures.
Toddler portion sizes
If you're trying to make meals that are for both adults and children, then you will need to vary portion sizes, obviously. If you're serving spaghetti bolognese, for example, then give your toddler two to four tablespoons of pasta and the same amount of sauce. Making a roast dinner? Your toddler won't need more than half a medium-sized potato, one small slice of meat and a maximum of two tablespoons of roasted vegetables. You can find detailed information about portion sizes for toddlers here.
Be careful with seasoning. Leave out salt when cooking and let the adult diners add salt to their own portions. Children between one and three-years-old should have no more than two grams of salt per day, while for children under six the limit is three grams. Most foods already contain salt – bread and baked beans, for example – so it's easy to have too much.
Now the warnings are out of the way, here's the tasty stuff…
Red meat recipes
- Spaghetti bolognese. If your toddler is difficult to feed then try Annabel Karmel's recipe for bolognese sauce with hidden vegetables and pasta.
- Roast dinner – meat, roast potatoes, roast carrots, Yorkshire pudding, broccoli, peas, stuffing, gravy
- Fried chorizo with boiled or stir-fried veg and quinoa
- Cottage pie or mash volcano and cut-up sausages with gravy lava. Another recipe that helps you smuggle vegetables into your toddler's diet.
- Krispie homemade chicken nuggets – children will love the secret ingredient in this healthier version of an old favourite
- Home-made chicken goujons with rice and peas or mash
- Chicken stir-fry with egg fried rice
- Chicken pie – cooked chicken, white sauce, peas, sweetcorn, topped with ready-made puff pastry
- Mini chicken casserole – cut chicken breast in cubes, one potato, one diced carrot, cover with vegetable stock, simmer gently till cooked
- Boiled egg and soldiers
- Cheese and sweetcorn omelettes
- Scrambled egg with grated cheese mixed in
- Fish fingers and chips
- Fish and veg chowder. A great way to get your little one eating omega-rich fish
- Salmon (or other fish) with lemon drizzled on top, couscous and any veg you have (e.g. cabbage, carrots, broccoli) steamed for 10 mins
- Mashed potato with anything
- Jacket potatoes with different fillings e.g. cheese and ham, baked beans
- Baked sweet potato with butter or grated cheese
- Vegetable rice – basmati rice, cubed peppers, sweet potato, carrot, sweetcorn etc mixed with grated cheese
- Mushroom risotto
Pasta and pizza recipes
- Gnocchi with peas, sweetcorn and ham and cream cheese
- Tuna pasta bake • Pasta with pesto and grated cheese
- Cheesy pasta (cream cheese and cheddar blended into white sauce), on its own or with veg, ham etc
- Vegetable pasta – add chopped veg (eg broccoli, leeks, carrots) to pan of cooking pasta for final five minutes, drain, add cream cheese and stir till combined
- Homemade pizza
- Leek and potato
- Minestrone soup with alphabet pasta