Best food ideas for toddlers
Involve your toddler in making finger foods to feed themselves and tasty meals the whole family can enjoy
Your toddler can now eat what you eat, bar the salt and sugar. There are a lots of ways to encourage your child to enjoy their food and eat well. Try letting them feed themselves with tasty finger foods, and involving them in meal preparation.
Toddlers don’t need to eat anything sweeter than fruit. Steer clear of sugary fruit juices, and stick to fresh fruit. Citrus fruit and berries have lots of vitamin C, and apples, pears and bananas are high in fibre, too. Eating fruit in childhood has been linked to a decreased chance of adult obesity.
• Skewer pieces of fruit, whole berries and grapes onto a plastic or wooden kebab stick. Your toddler can help.
• Arrange the fruit kebabs on a plate for the whole family to enjoy. This way your toddler can choose their food and feed themselves. This approach is particularly satisfying for little ones when they’re in the ‘I do myself!’ phase.
• Make sure you take the skewer away from your child when they have finished eating.
Crunchy, tasty fish fingers are a go-to meal for many parents. It’s easy and fun to make your own.
• Choose a chunky white fish such as haddock or cod. Check it’s deboned and from an MSC-certified fishery.
• 500g/18oz will give you 14-20 fish fingers depending on size: aim for the size of an adult finger so that your toddler can pick up and grip them.
• Have ready a bowl each of seasoned plain flour (100g/4oz), beaten egg (two or three large eggs) and dry breadcrumbs (200g/8oz). Dip each piece of fish first in the flour, then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs. Help your toddler make their own.
• Frying is for the grown-ups only. Fry each finger for 3-4 minutes on each side in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a frying pan. Drain on kitchen towel. Alternatively, arrange on an baking tray and bake at gas 6, 200°C/180°C fan for 12 minutes, turning halfway through.
• Serve with home-made tomato sauce, hummus or plain yogurt for dipping.
Cheesy ham pinwheels
You can pre-prepare fun finger food for when you’re pressed for time.
• Cut the crusts off two slices of soft wholegrain bread and flatten them with a rolling pin.
• Spread with full-fat soft cheese and sliced ham.
• Roll each slice up tightly and hold together with a toothpick. Chill in the fridge for 10-20 minutes or, if freezing, wrap first in clingfilm.
• To serve, slice each roll into four pinwheels and let your toddler feed themselves.
• These also work well with smoked salmon and hummus.
By Dr Carrie Ruxton, dietitian and health writer