Pregnancy Articles

Making Family Recipes Toddler-Friendly

Tips on Transitioning a Toddler to Grown-Up Food

Introducing your child to grown-up food is a fun, exciting, and messy time filled with exploration. New tastes and textures abound with every lift of the spoon and poke of the fork. Between the ages of 8 to 18 months, your child will be making a slow, gradual progression to table foods. However, not every family favorite is suitable for your toddler to try. To get started on this wonderful adventure, follow these simple steps.
  • Know which foods are likely to trigger allergies. Discuss your family's allergy history with your pediatrician and follow his or her recommendations regarding the introduction and timing of new foods. Some common food allergies include dairy, eggs, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy and wheat.
  • Monitor your child's chewing ability and offer appropriate foods to prevent choking. Peel fruits and vegetables, and cook and or moisten foods such as cereal, rice, and potatoes to the proper texture. Chop, grind or puree foods to a consistency you child can safely eat.
  • For a complete meal, serve one item from each of the food groups using appropriate child-size portions.
  • Make family recipes that are appropriate for everyone, including your toddler. Adapting some of your favorite recipes to suit your toddler will save time and money -- all it takes are a few minor changes and substitutions.
Below you'll find examples of how to easily adapt some of BabyFit's most popular recipes to include your toddler's needs.

Caribbean Pork Stew with Pineapple See full recipe
Pork, pineapple, cucumbers, pineapple, tomatoes, chili pepper.
Toddler Troubles:
Tomatoes are potential allergens.
Pineapple may be too difficult to chew.
Chili pepper could be too spicy.
Simple Solutions:
Before the tomatoes and pineapple are added:
  • Reserve a child size portion of plain, browned meat -- chop, grind or puree, then moisten with water.
  • Set aside a portion of cucumber and bell pepper, and chop into child-friendly pieces.
15 Minute Chili See full recipe
Ingredients: Ground turkey, onions, pinto and kidney beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, salsa.
Toddler Troubles:
Tomato is a high allergy food.
Salsa and chili powder can be too spicy.
Simple Solutions:
Before the tomatoes and spices are added:
  • Reserve a child size portion of the ground turkey -- chop, grind or puree.
  • Reserve a child size portion of the pinto and kidney beans. Mash or chop to the appropriate consistency. Creamy Chicken Enchiladas See full recipe
    Ingredients: Chicken, spinach, green onions, tortillas, cheese, yogurt, sour cream.
    Toddler Troubles:
    The jalapeno peppers could be too spicy.
    Cooked spinach could pose a choking hazard.
    Simple Solutions:
  • Do not add jalapeno peppers to recipe. Serve them at the table for those who want the extra spice.
  • For the younger child: Chop, grind or puree the meat mixture (spinach and onions included) and serve.
  • For the older child: Chop or dice the enchiladas into bite size pieces. Easy Bean Burritos See full recipe
    Ingredients: Northern beans, salsa, corn, tortillas, cheddar cheese, sour cream.
    Toddler Trouble:
    Salsa contains tomatoes -- a common food allergen -- and could be too spicy for children.
    Simple Solutions:
  • Reserve a child size portion of beans and corn. Mash or puree and warm in the microwave.
  • For the younger child: Thin the mashed bean mixture with water to the appropriate consistency.
  • For the older child: Spread thinly on bite size pieces of tortilla.
  • Serve shredded cheese on side. Brainless Banana Pancakes See full recipe
    Ingredients: Flour, baking powder, banana, soy milk.
    Toddler Trouble: Whole pancakes are too big; banana slices could pose a choking risk.
    Simple solution:
  • Cut pancakes into bite size portions and serve with a little syrup or fruited yogurt for dipping. Use a pizza cutter to making cutting stacks of pancakes a breeze.
    Bean and Macaroni Soup See full recipe
    Ingredients: Beans, carrots, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes, macaroni.
    Toddler Trouble:
    Tomato is a common food allergen.
    Simple Solutions:
  • Before adding the tomatoes, set aside a portion for your child. Add beans and macaroni to the child's soup.
  • Season slightly with pepper, oregano, sage and thyme, as desired.
  • For the younger child: Chop, grind or puree and serve.
  • For the older child: Strain and serve on a plate, or add enough water to make a thick, easy to spoon soup. Chicken Noodle Soup See full recipe
    Ingredients: Chicken, noodles, celery, onion, broth.
    Toddler Trouble: Vegetables, noodle, and meat might be too large for small mouths.
    Simple Solutions:
  • Make sure chicken, celery and noodles are cut to the appropriate size.
  • For the younger child: Chop, grind or puree for a complete dinner.
  • For the older child: Strain a child size portion of chicken, celery and noodles and serve. Add a little of the broth to make a thick, easy to spoon soup. Beef Tacos See full recipe
    Ingredients: Beef, taco seasoning, cheese, tomatoes, taco shells, lettuce.
    Toddler Troubles:
    Taco shells have sharp edges and could pose a choking risk.
    Lettuce is stringy and can be hard to chew.
    Tomato is a common food allergen.
    Spices may be too intense.
    Simple Solutions:
  • Reserve a child size portion of the browned beef, and puree if necessary. If needed, moisten with a little beef broth or water.
  • For the older child, serve meat with bite size pieces of a soft tortilla and shredded cheese.

    Knowing how to make foods suitable for your toddler can help make meals times more pleasurable for everyone. Now if only we could ensure no tantrums, throwing of foods or fighting with siblings at the table?
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    About The Author

    Becky Hand
    Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. She teaches prenatal classes and counsels individuals, helping women eat right and stay fit before, during and after their pregnancies.
    Becky Hand

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