When foods are squishy, toddlers find that fun. Same goes for foods you can freeze, slurp or dip. Find out how to put a smile on your toddler's face while helping him enjoy healthy foods.

Trying to get your toddler to eat a balanced diet can be challenging, to put it politely. But with a little patience and creativity from you, eating healthy and feeding your toddler solid foods can be a lot of fun.

While calorie amounts vary by child, a meal plan filled with whole grains, fruits and veggies, calcium-rich foods and lean protein sources, is standard issue healthy, toddler nutrition. So is limiting added sugar and salt. Try these mom-tested tips to help make “good” and “good for you” feel like the same thing to your toddler:

Things That Go Squish

  • Oatmeal (fiber, carbohydrate)
  • Banana (potassium)
  • Avocado (fiber, potassium, vitamin C)
  • Roasted sweet potato (vitamin A, potassium)
  • Strawberries (vitamin C, potassium, fiber, antioxidants)

Frozen Things

(It's amazing how frozen=fun, no matter what it is. Be sure whatever you freeze is large enough to suck on, to avoid a choking hazard.)

  • Homemade juice pops made from 100% fruit or vegetable juice (try them as ice cubes in a sippy cup!)
  • Low-fat frozen yogurt (calcium)
  • Blueberry smoothie made with yogurt and frozen blueberries (calcium, antioxidants, vitamin C)

Things You Can Slurp

  • Whole-wheat spaghetti (magnesium, fiber)
  • Soup (room temperature) through a straw
  • Tomato soup (vitamin C, potassium, copper)
  • Chicken noodle soup (selenium, protein)

Things You Can Dip

(This never seems to get old with most toddlers.)

  • Fruit pieces in low-fat vanilla yogurt (protein, calcium, riboflavin)
  • Carrot sticks in hummus (vitamin A, fiber, calcium, zinc)
  • Cooked broccoli trees in low-fat plain yogurt (calcium, potassium, vitamin C)
  • Cooked snowpeas in low-fat ranch dressing (protein, manganese, potassium)

Things That Roll

  • Peas (chromium, fiber, magnesium)
  • Cheerios® (calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate)
  • Cooked chickpeas (folate, fiber, protein)
  • Cooked carrot coins (vitamin A)
  • Turkey meatballs (protein)


  • Open-faced toasted cheese on whole-wheat bread cut into sticks (protein, calcium, fiber, riboflavin)
  • Cheese sticks (protein, calcium)
  • Carrot sticks (vitamin A)
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich sticks (protein, zinc, folate, fiber)
  • Fish sticks (protein)

Edible Artwork

  • Veggie faces
  • Spinach hair (vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, magnesium)
  • Carrot nose (vitamin A)
  • Cooked black bean eyes (iron, protein)
  • Cooked chick pea teeth (manganese, folate, fiber, protein)
  • Encourage your little one to build his own masterpiece. (Broccoli makes great trees, and brown rice can be molded into mountains!)

Other Toddler Feeding Tips:

Use fun shapes.

Cookie cutters, melon ballers, pizza cutters and measuring cups are all magical tools you already have on hand.

Use silly containers.

It's amazing how much more appealing a food can be if it's served up in a (new) flowerpot or on a fun plate. Be creative.

Source: USDA (https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list)