15 Creative Meal Ideas for Toddlers

Who says you can't play with your food?
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March 9, 2020
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If your toddler is anywhere near a typical toddler, he’s probably refusing his share of new foods. These awesome meal ideas might be just what you need to get him trying different flavors without a fight. Plus, they’re just plain fun!


Toddler Bento Box

Why we love it: The variety in this jam-packed lunch box has enough options to keep even the pickiest eater satisfied and interested.

How to make it: Start with half a sandwich and cut into a fun shape with a cookie or sandwich cutter. Add colorful fruits and veggies with character-shaped toothpicks. To keep foods separate, pack them in cupcake wrappers (they’ll add a splash of color, too!).

Image: KirstenReese / Flickr

Cool Caterpillar Plate

Why we love it: It’s inspired by one of our favorite kids’ books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

How to make it: Lay spinach or lettuce on a plate to make the ground. For the sun, an orange in half and shred some carrot for its rays. For the caterpillar body, cut grapes in half and zig-zag them along the length of the plate. Use a strawberry for the head, bananas for the eyes and the skin of an apple to the antennae. Thin apple slices can double as the caterpillar’s feet.


Baked Taco Cups

Why we love it: You won’t have to make a separate meal for everyone at your table. It looks gourmet and grown-up, but the mini serving size keeps it appropriate and kid-centric.

How to make it: Buy premade wonton wrappers in the frozen food section. Layer two together in a muffin pan and bake just until they’re cooked through. After you’ve cooked your taco meat according to the package directions, add a little in each cup and bake again, until warm. Add whatever taco toppings you like!


Octopus Hot Dogs

Why we love it: It’s super easy to make. Plus, who doesn’t love some friendly octopi?

How to make it: Prepare hot dogs as the package states. When they’re ready to eat, use a knife to cut them in half. Fray the edges by peeling back the skin on the hot dog (or use a knife to cut slices). Use a toothpick to make the eyes. Jazz it up with your favorite condiments. (For a slightly healthier spin, use organic, poultry hot dogs.)


Sandwich Puzzle

Why we love it: It turns mealtime into game time. And if you can find a puzzle-shaped sandwich cutter, it’s really simple to do.

How to make it: After you make the sandwich, use a puzzle-shaped sandwich cutter (or some clever cuts with a knife) to make the puzzle. Jumble up the pieces so your child will have to put it back together!



Banana Hot Dog

Why we love it: It’s a silly mix-up of two things most kids love: bananas and hot dogs.

How to make it: Put some peanut butter on the inside of one half of a hot dog pun. Place a peeled banana inside and add a squirt of jelly on top to look like ketchup.


English Muffin Man Face

Why we love it:  This happy face just may motivate your toddler to try more colorful (read: healthier) foods.

How to make it: Toast an English Muffin (or bagel or bread) and cut up some veggies or fruits, such as grapes, green beans, carrots, broccoli, beans, olives, strawberries and blueberries. After it’s toasted, put a little butter on top and use the fruits and veggies to make the face.

Image: KirstenReese / Flickr

Fruity Fish Faces

Why we love it: It’s the perfect snack to serve at a play-date!

How to make it: Cut an orange and a carrot into small  ¼-inch-thick slices. Use blueberries to make bubbles, and a dab of whipped cream and some blue sprinkles for the fish eyes.


Sandwich Sushi

Why we love it: Even though it’s not traditional sushi, it will get your toddler experimenting with shapes, textures and tastes.

How to make it: Make a sandwich as you usually would  but keep it open-face — or use a wrap or a flatbread to make the rolling process easier! Once it’s ready, roll the sandwich tightly and cut it up. Serve it as finger food or with chopsticks.


Smiley Face Pizzas

Why we love it: Pizza isn’t the healthiest food in the world but adding a smile can mean adding nutritional value.

How to make it: Top mini bagels or English muffins with pizza sauce. Cut up some cheese and veggies such as olives, onions, peppers, broccoli or green beans and use them to create faces!


Garden Party Plate

Why we love it: This colorful garden has a little of everything: fruits, veggies, protein and a sweet treat, so you won’t need to worry about your tot getting a well-balanced meal.

How to make it: Assemble your flowers using graham crackers or sugar cookies and colorful fruits and veggies such as carrots, bananas, raspberries and tomatoes. You can even make a PB&J and cut it into the shape of a flower.


Octopus Spaghetti

Why we love it: It’s completely unexpected and totally kid-centric.

How to make it: Bring water to a boil. Before cooking the hot dog, cut it up into about 1 to 2-inch thick bite-size pieces. Poke uncooked spaghetti through each bite-size hot dog piece and then bring it to a boil on the stove. Voila!

Image: KirstenReese / Flickr

Peacock Fruit Plate

Why we love it: Teach your toddler about new animals over a cool snack!

How to make it: Cut some grapes and a pear in half. Arrange the grapes on the plate around the pear so that it starts to look like a peacock. Add a few blueberries (or whatever fruit you prefer) on top for some variety. Cut up a piece of cheddar cheese (or use carrots instead) for the nose and legs. Poke holes with a toothpick to make eyes.


Crazy Sandwich Face

Why we love it: This dish is a win-win for super picky eaters. It has all the basics, plus enough nutrients to make it an A+ meal.

How to make it: Just like the other sandwiches, you’ll need bread (your choice!), peanut butter, bananas, apple and raisins. Or try soy or almond butter and different vegetables and fruits to get your toddler trying more foods.


Cat in the Hat Snacks

Why we love it: Combine snack time and a favorite story. You can’t go wrong!

How to make it: Cut an apple, strawberries and bananas into ½-inch thick slices. Feel free to substitute raspberries, kiwi, pineapple and other colorful fruits. Layer them to make a sky-high_ Cat in the Hat _top hat!

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Packed Lunch Ideas?

Best Toddler-Friendly Cookbooks

Healthy Foods Your Toddler Will Love

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