Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Lunch Ideas for Toddlers

This post was first published on Humpty Bumpty Kids.

It is legendary that toddlers are fussy eaters. You can break your heads unravelling the mystery of how your perfect child who ate all you offered turned into such a picky eater, or rise up to the challenge. You cannot alter the natural developmental phase of kids, so it is better to accept it and take it in your stride.

A few things to remember: 
  • Focus only on the bigger picture. You have to provide your child enough Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, Vitamins and Minerals during the course of the day. Achieve that through a smart combination of cereals, pulses, animal protein, milk and milk products, fruits and vegetables. If he does not want to have dal rice, offer rice separately, and he can drink dal like soup. 
  • Kids are not compelled or motivated by nutrition of the food served, unlike grown-ups. If it does not appeal to them, they would not even try it. So, the food has to be appealing. 
  • Strictly observe a 2-3 hours gap between meals. If your toddler keeps munching one thing or the other, he would obviously not be hungry enough at the time for the meal. 
  • Limit your child’s milk intake. Doctors advise that a toddler does not require more than 2 small glasses of milk (i.e. 200 – 250 ml approx.). If he drinks half litre milk, naturally he will not be sufficiently hungry for the food. And remember, at 1-3 years of age, a child needs nutrition through a variety of food, and not just milk.
  • Little kids emulate what their parents do. So, you have to lead by example.
  • Encourage them to eat on their own. For example, when I try feeding my toddler a roti, he just out rightly refuses to open his mouth; but when I encourage him to eat a piece of the roti on his own, he eats it. 
  • Offer lots of vegetables at every opportunity. Add a variety of veggies in Sambhar, Poha, Pulao, Noodles, Pasta, etc. A mix of vegetables not only provides different kinds of essential vitamins and minerals, they also add colour to the food and make it attractive. 
And finally, here are few quick lunch ideas for your picky eaters which have worked for me:
  • Risotto : When my son refuses to eat rice, I use this recipe to revamp the rice and present a more sumptuous version of it. 
  • Besan (gram flour) pancakes: It tastes yummy with honey. 
  • Spinach and corn soup: Quite filling and extremely nutritious. 
  • Brown bread and omelette: Add veggies like mushroom, tomato, onion, capsicum to omelette to make it tastier. Add a little milk while beating the egg to make the omelette extra soft. 
  • Sweet pancakes: It is always the Plan B for me (at the moment) when my baby refuses to eat what is cooked for lunch. It is ready in a jiffy. Just make a batter of regular aata (wheat flour) with sugar and water. Add some raisins. Heat a little oil in a pan (uniformly spread out so as to coat the entire cooking surface), put a dollop of the batter and spread it out in a circular motion like dosa. Cook it on both sides and serve.

Here are a few more recipes that busy mommies can try.

Toddlers are at an exciting yet impressionable age. It is the right time to introduce all kinds of food to them. They get bored easily so the idea is to engage them by offering different things or at least altering the presentation!


  1. a very useful post :)

    1. Every mother of a toddler has food on her mind :-)

  2. Very helpful post .. My daughter is a fussy eater too .. she hates milk - so still trying to figure ways t0 Get her to drink some. Like risotto for your son , spaghetti works for my lil one. Anything that is thread-like ,she'll eat ! And the fried stuff.. Wonder how I am going to get her of that habit !

    1. Thank you so much for dropping by.
      You may offer her milk products like cheese and curd, if she is not having milk.
      You know, things change every day in case of little kids. One day they like something, another day something else. So, this too shall pass :-)
      In such days, I make sure to give my son enough Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Minerals and Vitamins in the form of Roti/Rice/Idli/Rava/Dalia/Pasta/Bread and fruits are non-negotiable. I have even let him have only Glucose biscuits and milk, and some cheese, dry fruits combo paste, etc when he completely rejected all food when he was unwell.