After a long day, the last thing you want to do is argue with your toddler over what he will have for dinner. While it may be tempting to give in and serve chicken nuggets or peanut butter and jelly every night, healthier options that appeal to toddlers do exist. A fun and healthy dinner will make everyone happy. Many of these toddler-friendly dinner ideas are also appealing for the rest of the family.
Quesadillas are simple and easy to adapt to your toddler’s taste. Toddlers enjoy eating them because they can use their hands. Your toddler can help pick out the ingredients for her quesadilla. Quesadillas can be cut into fun shapes using cookie cutters or a pizza cutter. Toddlers love to dip their food, so a side of dipping sauce makes quesadillas more fun. Pizza sauce, salsa, ketchup or ranch dressing will work depending on your toddler’s preference. To make a quesadilla, place a tortilla in a lightly greased, heated pan. Sprinkle shredded cheese, vegetables, meat and other fillings on half of the tortilla. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling. Flip the quesadilla when the first side is slightly browned. Cook until the cheese is melted. Chicken, sausage, pepperoni and ham make ideal quesadilla ingredients, along with nearly any vegetable.
Toddlers and pasta are a good match. Most toddlers will eat pasta with or without sauce. Pasta is available in a variety of toddler-friendly shapes, making them more appealing. Tomato-based pasta sauce is a healthy topping. For more health benefits, puree cooked vegetables such as squash or carrots and stir it into the pasta sauce. Your toddler will get more vegetables without complaining. Butter and Parmesan cheese are alternative pasta toppings.
Pita pizzas are an easy meal, and your toddler can help assemble his own pizza. Place a pita on a baking sheet. Top with sauce, cheese, vegetables and other desired toppings. Encourage your toddler to use the toppings to make a face or other shapes on his pizza. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Your toddler can have his own pizza that he made. Some toddlers may eat more of a meal that they help prepare.
Boneless, skinless chicken breast is a healthy meat option for toddlers. Chicken can be grilled, baked or sauteed in a skillet. If your toddler refuses to eat anything but chicken nuggets, make your own healthier version. Cut a chicken breast into toddler-sized strips. Dip them in plain yogurt. Roll them in crushed cereal such as corn flakes. Lightly grease a baking sheet and bake them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Serving breakfast food makes dinner fun and appealing to toddlers. Make pancakes into fun shapes, or add a few drops of food coloring to the batter. Cut toast into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Scrambled eggs, hash browns, French toast and oatmeal are other breakfast options that work at dinner time.
New Sandwich Combinations
If peanut butter and jelly is losing its appeal, try different sandwich combinations. Peanut butter and banana is a popular sandwich idea. Peanut butter and honey also pair well. Turn them into grilled sandwiches the same way you make a grilled cheese sandwich. A toddler can assemble her own sandwich, making this a fun activity.
Toddlers are beginning to assert their independence. Feed your toddler’s growing independence by giving him some control over his dinner. Allow him to select different finger foods from the refrigerator and cupboards for his dinner plate. You can add a few healthy items to the plate as well. Your toddler will enjoy filling his plate, and will have many options to nibble at dinner.