Trying to decide what to eat everyday for yourself can be hard enough, let alone for your baby and toddler as well! That’s why we’ve rounded up some sample toddler meal planners that are healthy and nutritious, as well as feeding schedules for your little one and what foods their tum will like best.
What should toddlers eat?
It’s important your toddler has a well balanced diet including the following:
• Protein - including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, nuts/legumes (make sure these are in forms that are safe for their age)
• Complex carbohydrates - such as whole grains, sweet potato and squash
• Health fats - including avocados, chia seed, flax seed, egg yolks, nuts and seeds
• Fruit and vegetables
Iron and fibre-rich foods are also an important part of your toddlers diet, but they’ll naturally get this from the foods listed above. By making sure your toddler eats a well balanced diet including the food categories above means they’re less likely to become picky eaters in the future. Aim to serve a minimum of 1-2 of these food groups at meal times, vary them throughout the week and your toddler will be getting all the nutrition they need.
How many meals a day should a toddler have?
Three meals and two to three healthy snacks a day should keep your toddlers tum happy. You may find there are days though when your toddler eats a little less or even skips a meal. Let your toddler respond to their own feelings of hunger and fullness and try not to let it worry you.
How much time should you allow between toddler meals?
Two to three hours is a good amount of time to leave between your toddlers meals and snacks and help them work up an appetite. Trying to put set meal and snack times in place can be a good routine to get into, as it can help your toddler know what to expect and when. However, don’t be disheartened if you find your toddler’s appetite changing constantly, as when they are hungry it's something that is completely out of your control. Also, avoid letting your toddler graze on snacks throughout the day, as this will definitely ruin their appetite.
Toddler feeding schedule
Toddler meal planner
Here are two toddler meal plan samples from real mums, as well as a toddler snack sample, which will hopefully give you some inspiration for planning your toddlers meals.
Toddler meal planner - example 1
• Breakfast - butter toast, nectarine, blueberries and milk
• Lunch - peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread, avocado, grape tomatoes
• Snack 1 - Yogurt and fruit
• Snack 2 - Pretzels, juice box and hard boiled egg
• Dinner - Salmon, zucchini, ketchup to dip veggies, baked potato with sour cream
Toddler meal planner - example 2
This toddler meal planner is for the whole week, so you shouldn't run short of ideas.
Toddler meal planner - example 3 (snacks)
Again, rotate snacks from the different food groups below to ensure your toddler has an all-round nutritious diet.
• Rice cakes
• Pitta bread
• Hard boiled egg
• Cream cheese
• Nut/seed butters
• Falafel balls
Fruit and veggies
• Cherry tomatoes
How do I know if my toddler is eating enough?
If your tot seems full of energy, is meeting milestones and gaining healthy weight you can rest assured that they’re eating enough food. If your toddler has medical issues though and you are concerned, always check in with your paediatrician.
Here’s how you can help your toddler during their meal times:
• Switch off screens. Avoid bringing iPads and phones to the table, let your toddler focus solely on their food and not be distracted.
• Let your toddler decide how much food they want to eat at that time, don’t pressure them to eat more.
• Sit with them at the table. It will help them learn table manners as they’ll begin to mimic what you do.
• Aim to serve a variety of healthy foods during meal times throughout the week to ensure they’re getting a well balanced diet.
• If there’s a particular food you’d like your toddler to eat, make sure you feed it to them a few times a week. Regular rotation will ensure they become used to it (and hopefully end up liking it!).
• Most importantly, remember your toddlers diet will fluctuate from time to time and there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect toddler diet’.
Baby meal planners
Unfortunately when it comes to meal planning for your baby it's not as straightforward, as your baby's journey onto solid foods begins with weaning. Baby's usually begin this process around six months old and you may introduce a variety of foods to your little one to try, from bits of veg to fruit, but weaning really comes down to trying new foods and is dictated by your baby themselves, rather than being something you can have a weekly plan for.