The first few years of life are pivotal when it comes to growth and the developing microbiome—so food for toddlers really matters. But unfortunately, toddlers are often notoriously finicky eaters, which creates a tough challenge for parents who want to make sure their kids are getting a good mix of healthy foods. To complicate matters, meals for toddlers also have to be easy to chew and unlikely to pose a choking hazard—and they need to be simple enough to prepare when you’ve got a lot on your plate already.
Thankfully, it really is possible to prepare easy toddler meals that will please the whole family. These toddler-friendly recipes are delicious, easy for toddlers to handle, and positively packed with gut-boosting nutrition.
Toddlers love waffles! They’re soft, and sweet, and easy to eat with no help from mom or dad. And waffles aren’t only for breakfast—top them off with your favorite nut butter or spread and they work well for a quick lunch or dinner as well.
This yummy take on a classic favorite is an excellent source of fiber, omega 3s, phytonutrients, protein, and prebiotics. And with only five ingredients, you’ll have these waffles ready in no time. One important note though: children need to be at least 12 months of age to safely eat honey. If your little one is still shy of her first birthday, simply substitute pure maple syrup for the honey.
The leading supermarket chocolate hazelnut spread is almost addictively delicious, but unfortunately, it’s also seeping with trans fats, sugar, and GMOs. So even though it’s a time-tested toddler (and adult!) favorite, you’d probably prefer to keep that little jar out of the house.
Enter this wonderful homemade alternative, which recreates the creamy chocolate goodness of the supermarket stuff without any of the unhealthy ingredients! When your kids treat themselves to this spread, they’ll also get a rich helping of vitamin E, B vitamins, potassium, calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, healthy fats, prebiotic fiber, and much more.
This recipe takes almost no time to make—you just have to remember to put the hazelnuts in water to soak overnight beforehand. Enjoy this spread with fruit, in sandwiches, or even on waffles!
You’d be hard pressed to find a toddler who isn’t enthusiastic about tater tots! And they’re a fun finger food for kids in this age group, since they come in soft, bite sized pieces with just a hint of crunch.
But when it comes to eating healthy, traditional tater tots don’t really cut it. They tend to be deep fried in unhealthy oils, loaded with sodium, and basically devoid of nutrition. Add to that the ketchup dripping with high-fructose corn syrup and GMOs, and suddenly tater tots don’t seem like such an appealing food for toddlers anymore.
This recipe redeems tater tots, utilizing oven-baking instead of deep frying, and using only healthy olive oil. The addition of yams, nutritional yeast, and white beans ups both the taste and the nutritional value.
Because dipping is half the fun, serve these tater tots with a little bowl of any organic, sugar-free condiment such as honey mustard (for kids 12 months or older) or plain, unsweetened yogurt.
Toddlers get such a kick out of slurping down sweet, frosty popsicles on a hot day, whether it’s at the beach, the pool, or just playing outside. And the fact that they can hold their pops independently gives them a sense of confidence and mastery as they learn to navigate this world. But most of the popsicles you’ll find in your grocer’s freezer are loaded with refined sugar, artificial additives, and GMOs—not the type of healthy start your child really needs!
When you make these easy berry-chia popsicles at home you’ll know that your kids are only getting natural, gut healthy ingredients while they create happy summer memories. Wild blueberries are nutrient rich, and also deliver valuable anthocyanins and prebiotic fiber. Alkalizing lemons add additional vitamins and antioxidants, and chia seeds give your little ones high quality protein, calcium, and omega 3s. Local honey encourages overall wellness but is only safe for kids 12 months and older—if your child is a bit younger, remember to substitute pure maple syrup.
Mashed potatoes are one of those timeless comfort foods that almost universally go over well with toddlers. After all, they’re soft, creamy, warm—and very manageable for little hands just getting used to using a fork or spoon. The only trouble is this tasty dish is traditionally prepared with unhealthy fats like sour cream, vegetable oil, or margarine—which may also contain GMOs—and unless you’re buying organic, the potatoes themselves may be genetically modified!
This easy recipe recreates the soothing taste experience of mashed potatoes by substituting cauliflower, so your kids reap the nutritional, prebiotic, and health-protective perks that cruciferous vegetables offer. Healthy coconut oil adds a satisfying richness you can feel good about, and nut milk provides additional nutrients and a toddler-friendly creamy texture.
Not so long ago, serving carrot cake was considered a smart way to get vegetables into fussy toddlers’ diets. And it worked, because pretty much everyone loves yummy carrot cake. But we’re all more sophisticated now, and the truth is that the refined sugar, white flour, and unhealthy ingredients in most carrot cake recipes seriously offsets the benefits of the carrots—not to mention the cream cheese in the frosting, which is basically devoid of nutrition and full of detrimental fat.
But delicious carrot cake doesn’t have to be a thing of the past! These carrot cake bites give your kids lots of vitamin A, antioxidants, prebiotics, omega 3s, and healthy fats—plus they’re vegan, raw, and free of white carbs, refined sugar, and wheat. And in their little ruffled muffin cups, they’re cute enough for any birthday party or celebration.
With a little creativity and lots of love, it’s actually really easy to serve gut healthy meals that your toddler loves. Your kids will enjoy the great tastes and growing feelings of independence, while you bask in the knowledge that you’re providing the perfect foundation for their microbial and overall wellness for years to come.
For more gut-healthy recipes, check out The Hyperbiotics Cookbook.
Roberta Pescow is a writer at Hyperbiotics and proud mom of two amazing and unique young men. Natural wellness is a subject she’s passionate about, so she loves sharing information that helps others discover all the ways probiotics support glowing health and well-being. To learn more about how a healthy microbiome can enrich your life, subscribe to our newsletter.