This is a guest post from Catherine McCord, author of Weelicious.
I’m thrilled to be guest posting for Lisa as nothing makes me happier than real food!
I started Weelicious six years ago after the birth of my son when I couldn’t find any interesting homemade baby food recipes online or information on how to actually get kids to become great eaters from day one. Then as the baby food stage quickly disappeared I found myself in the abyss of wondering how to feed my toddler. Like many moms I was scared of him choking, needing an epi-pen if he tasted peanut butter, or not getting enough nutrition when feeding himself.
What do you feed new eaters transitioning from purees to solid foods? It was actually a lot easier than I thought. First, he could eat almost everything my husband and I were eating, just in much smaller bites and portions. I tried my hardest to avoid sugar and salt in his recipes until he was 18 months and then added sweeteners and sodium in small amounts. I really wanted both of my kids to fall in love with the natural flavors of food instead of the enhancers.
Many popular finger foods that kids love can be easily made at home so you know exactly what’s going into your child’s food and their body. Some of my family’s favorites are: Chicken Nuggets, Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf Bites, Animal Crackers, Whole Wheat Cheddar Crackers.
Sometimes it helps to present foods in new ways to get your little ones interested in eating them. Like forming rice around cheese in these Mexican Rice Balls, or presenting broccoli in a new and very flavorful way with these Broccoli Cheese Patties, or even freezing peas and greens in ice pop form! That’s right, I said it, freeze greens and peas in popsicle molds for a refreshing and super healthy treat. Try these adorable Pea Wee Kiwi Pops or Green Ice Pops.
Here are a few more favorite recipes that are perfect finger foods for toddlers.
Chicken on a Stick
Pesto to mix into rice, quinoa or pasta
If you’re having trouble introducing your little one to new foods, I’ve got some ideas to help!
You certainly don’t need to spend lots of time in the kitchen to prepare finger foods for your growing toddler. All the recipes listed above are easy to make, and most can be frozen so you always have them on hand. For those times when you just don’t have to time to do anything, here are some finger foods that can be served to your toddler as is, or with minimal tweaks and preparation:
Toddler Finger Foods
- Toast Bites (whole-wheat toast bread and cut or tear into bite-sized chunks)
- Bites of Ripe Fruits (mango, apple, peach, pineapple, berries, etc)
- Whole Wheat Bagels – these make great teethers, too!
- Frozen Peas
- Cubed Tofu
- Cooked Beans
- Cheese Cubes
- Spoonful of Nut or Seed Butter
- Cooked Bite-Sized Pasta
- Steamed Vegetables (such as cauliflower, broccoli, carrots or corn) sprinkled with Toasted Sesame Seeds
- Chopped Boiled Eggs or Scrambled Eggs
- Cubed Chicken
- Whole-Grain Rice Cakes
- Cooked Salmon
- Slightly over cooked Brown Rice (makes it easier to stick to little hands)
Please share your favorite healthy toddler food with us in the comments below!
46 thoughts on “Guest Post: Toddler Bites from Weelicious”
I post a ton of toddler-friendly recipes on my Blog. Although they are not specifically ‘finger foods’ they are family meals that lend well to finger foods for kids!
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I was curious if you ever thought of changing the page layout of your blog?
Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one
or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out
Great post, I have a toddler who is a fussy eater so it’s great to come across ideas of different food for him to try. Will check out all the ideas.
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I would love to try the bath and beauty products!
I want a couple of metal water bottles for lunch boxes.
I just LOVE watching your YouTube channel with my boys! They bought me your cookbook for my birthday last month. We have a ton of fun cooking together. We now have to be on gfcf diet, so I’m making adjustments, but still enjoying your recipes. Thanks Catherine!
LOVE the Weelicious site, Catherine! You have fantastic recipes. We love the spinach cake muffins and blueberry muffins around here – delicious!! I would agree with a previous poster about the only disappointment being the inclusion of refined oils and flours in your recipes, but very easy to substitute for most of them. I have your cookbook, too! You do great work – keep it up!
Thank you so much for this post!!! I have an almost 2 year old with another on the way and getting her to eat fruits and veggies has always been a struggle. One day she loves grapes, the next day refuses to eat them. One day she loves tomato, next day they are no good, etc.
I am so excited to try some of these recipes!
I really like the animal cracker recipe. Any chance you know an easy way to make it gluten free? I want to have a homemade snack to share at my toddlers play group that all kids can eat including him :)
Two of my favorites on the same post- excited! Catherine and Weelicious empowered me to start my youngest off healthy- I share your site regularly. And now that he’s three and my oldest is ten, I also get inspiration from 100daysofreal food. Thankful for you both!
I have a 28 month old boy who was born with DiGeorge Syndrome and with that comes a lot of sensory, developmental and self-regulation issues. As a result he is an extremely picky eater which of course is a concern for many reasons. He is very small, barely 20 pds and he’s over 2 years old, we’re most concerned about his head growth. Pretty much everything on the list would not work for us. He won’t and can’t eat most of this. His pediatrician and gastro doctor have instructed us to just give him what he will eat…whatever he wants or is willing to eat…anything is better than nothing in this case even ice cream. we also give him Pediasure everyday. Thankfully this has helped and we are finally see some weight gain and progress in other developmental areas. He is sleeping better now too. If this didn’t work they were going to put him on a feeding tube…but like I said it is working. Needless to say for me this article seems whimsical to me. All I want is for my son to eat…anything. I could care less if it’s processed goldfish or fresh apples…too many people take everyday acts (walking, talking, sleeping, eating) for granted. Thoughts?
Honestly the more calories and fat the better for him. But I know he’s not your typical kid.
Posts like this must be hard for you to read. I don’t know anyone with DiGeorge Syndrome and it must feel like a lonely parenting road sometimes. Sounds like you are a wonderful mom with the best interests of your son at heart. Keep doing right by him, he is lucky to have you.
This post couldn’t come at a better time! Our daughter just turned one and loves to feed herself. I am having a hard time coming up with new ideas for simple foods/meals. I feel like I feed her the same things all the time. Thank you for all of the wonderful ideas. I can’t wait to try them!!
Neat ideas! Really creative! I am always looking for new ideas! Definitely glad I saw this!
For the person weaning their kids from Puree’s I would consider buying those refillable puree sacks and making your own creations so that they can still have them. If that doesn’t seem cost effective buy the premade one’s with the least amount of additives. I tried not to feed my kids in the car when I first introduced solids. Huge mess as sometimes the food is more for playing than eating and I was afraid of them choking back there because they don’t have the food mushed enough before they swallow.
thank you for sharing. I have been changing my families diet over the last 5 years. With the addition of our newest little one, have already been wondering how I was going to replace things like cheerios. thanks
what is the chocolatey looking rectangle bars please? :-)
They are chocolate chip granola bars…they are on the Weelicious site. Here is the link:
Do you have “car proof” suggestions. Both my kids were adopted at older ages. For bonding and comfort they both needed food on demand. I couldn’t find anything that was great to leave in the car so it was just there as needed (not for times I was sure we needed to bring something). Those goldfish took a toll on me, the kids though grew beyond them quickly. Despite plenty of goldfish they are now some of the healthiest eaters around (at nearly 13 and 19 years), but still I think there’s a need for a healthy “car snack” that can just be left out there in the elements for when life doesn’t go close to as planned.
My children are 11 and 13 and still like fun shaped and sized food. I’m trying to teach them that we eat to nurture our bodies, but food can still be fun too. My 13 year old daughter is much pickier, but maybe I can entice her with some of these fund ideas. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the ideas! We did baby-led weaning so never had to worry about any transitioning from purees, but I have been wanting more ideas for on-the-go snacks and meals with it being summer.
I have a question, we have 11 month old twins that are slowly starting to wean from purees and into more full time solids. We are going on a family vacation where we will be traveling a lot / car etc.
What are some good finger foods to take along with us? Obviously I will not be cooking along the way and not always 100% sure of our fridge/freezer factor at the hotels we stay at along the way. our hope was to pack lunches and eat dinners out.
I’ve found that GREAT baby/toddler snacks to take along include fresh fruit that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, like apples and bananas. A piece of fruit leather is also great for teethers because they can chew on it to soothe their gums while eating. The easy cheesy cracker recipe on here is VERY popular and can be at room temp. Let’s see…what else… oh the maple pecan breakfast cookies (recipe on this site also lol) are a big hit around here. Don’t forget about freeze dried fruits, too. They bring a new texture to the fruit which might be a good change of pace. Just get one that isn’t too rough, like maybe apple rings but not pineapples. If you do have means of refrigeration, your options open up a LOT more. Good luck!
My youngest is almost 5 so I do not have toddlers anymore. I think these ideas are great and could still be used for kids of any age. Even my preteens would love these ideas as little snacks! Thanks You :)
Weelicious is my bible for my toddler! its always up on the counter, ready for me to follow through. i cant get enough of the chicken nuggets, the crackers, her popsicles are teething life savers, and what fridge is complete without rasber wee sauce!
I second the previous poster – two of my faves in the same place!!
We cannot rave enough about the spinach ricotta bites! Total lifesaver! I freeze them and pack one with oatmeal or something else for preschool every day. She loves them and I love getting a serving of veggies in before 9am!!
Great post, Catherine! Love your ideas. I think ive made your beet pancakes before- a success! As requested, here are a few ideas that are always a hit with my toddler: green smoothies, homemade whole wheat Mac n cheese with chopped steamed veggies mixed in, bell pepper strips, baked chicken nuggets made with homemade bread crumbs and applesauce for dipping, baked sweet potato wedges, homemade silver dollar whole wheat pancakes spread with peanut butter, hard boiled eggs, veggie quesadilla triangles (can get away with hiding even the least popular veggies in there!)
Thanks for the ideas!! I actually just ordered your book this past week. I have my food processor out and about to make the crackers now! I’ve switched the whole family over 1 week ago to clean eating, and my 3 year old is having the hardest time without her goldfish :( She keeps crying and saying she wants to eat her goldfish (they were all thrown away!). So I know she will love this! Waiting for her to wake up from her nap so she can help :)
We love Weelicious! I make the spinach muffins (we call them sweet cakes around this house!) at minimum 2x per month- sometimes more. They freeze beautifully and I’ve made them in standard and mini muffin size. I also use parchment cups and love how they come out using those. It’s another great recipe for people reading this to try! Thank you for all of the great recipes that are helping to steer me and my family away from processed foods. I, for one, did not grow up cooking much so sites like yours have helped me bridge the learning curve. :)
Very nice website and some great recipe ideas. I was surprised at the amount of refined white flour/pastas were used, but that can be pretty easily replaced with whole wheat flours/pastas.
I can’t wait to try those kiwi pea pops! I have a three year old boy who loves icee pops (his granny bought a big box for him when she stayed with us with our newborn), but I cringe every time he eats one. I’m sure he’ll love those! Thanks!
My two favorite food sites meet in one place! I love all of the Weelicious recipes online and in your book! My almost 2 year old is a fantastic eater because we have exposed her to lots and lots of different foods- many from your recipes. We are a bit more strict with the real food rules but just sub whole wheat flour, coconut oil and honey or maple syrup when recipes call for things we don’t like to use. My toddler loves the broccoli cheese cakes, carrot coins, taquitos, broccoli carrot orzo and more!
I bought your cookbook several months ago and love it! My only critique is the use of refined oils and flours but it’s easy enough to sub in coconut/olive oil and ww flour. I’ve actually given it as a couple of gifts too. Everything I’ve made is great and my 2 year old loves real food. I get comments all the time from people amazed by some of the food she will eat. Kids love good real food!
Awesome! Thanks so much for reading and getting my book! :)
I disagree, Rachel. I use a lot of Weelicious recipes and I think you often have to get creative with children to get them to try new things. A fun shape or a unique medium makes a food intriguing to them and they are willing to try it. For my kids, at least, after the food becomes familiar they are willing to eat it in many forms. My 4 year old son rarely orders off of the children’s menu at restaurants and we do not generally have issues with finding something that he likes when we go out. Early nutrition is about getting the good food into their bodies and about teaching their palate what real food tastes like. If you can get them to eat these good foods when they are young they eventually outgrow their desire to have things in fun shapes (or at least recognize that it doesn’t always come in that form) and will just appreciate the taste of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
I appreciate the creativity in this post, but shouldn’t we be trying to teach our kids to like food the way it normally looks, not always all jazzed up and in interesting shapes, etc.? What happens when you take your toddler out to a restaurant – do you have to bring food for them since the restaurant food doesn’t look interesting enough, or does he/she eat what is served to them from the restaurant? I know it can be a challenge feeding a toddler sometimes, but aren’t we creating future challenges when our kids are eating food that is custom-made for them (versus the same food we are eating as adults)?
The only “interesting shapes” I saw in this post were the cheddar crackers & animal crackers. Animal crackers are supposed to look like animals, hence the name, and other than the fact that they are much healthier, I don’t see a difference between her cheese crackers & those cheez-it’s with sponge bob or letters stamped on them. The other recipes she shared are small for small hands.
I’m sorry if I’m missing your point. I really am trying to see which recipes you’re referring to… Are you talking about the popsicles that she froze greens into? Those reminded me of my green smoothies! I like pouring them into molds to freeze, too, and I’m 28 lol.
Anyway, thank you for these ideas, Catherine!! My husband & I don’t have little ones yet, but I am definitely coming to your site when we do! I have already made some of the Weelicious recipes just for us & we loved em! :)
I don’t mean that we should be changing foods into unrecognizable forms! Maybe your child doesn’t like eating a whole carrot, but if it is cut into coins or sticks and is easier to hold and dip then he or she will be more likely to try it. Then they will see that it is a food they like. Then you show them the whole food and how you cut it up. They will learn about the “real” food and also know that they like it even when it looks different than what they have seen in the past! I certainly do no advocate hiding foods or anything like that. I think we should be teaching our kids about real foods and empowering them to be healthy eaters from day one! :)
Hi there! I have a home daycare, and we all love your recipes. The little ones I take care of 5 days a week, are all good eaters, but we love turning things into fun shapes. A big part of fun shapes and different approaches is that it makes meal time more interesting, rather than making the food more palatable. Toddlers and preschoolers don’t have long attention spans to begin with and a supper table that consists of “Sit down, eat your supper.” replayed over and over again doesn’t make anyone want to come running to the table. Broccoli served steamed is healthy, but after you have seen it twice in one week, it is great to have it served with cheese or chopped and served into Quinoa Bits with some dipping sauce. With the littler ones, it is all about keeping their interest and enjoying the meal (for everyone, including Mom and Dad)
I wish it were that easy! I have a 3 yr old who is only given whole foods as a choice from me (her grandparents are another story.. one that I really work on or she does not visit). We even have gardens that we “shop” from daily. she complains constantly she wants something “crunchy”. I give her baked kale which she loves. She will not eat her dinner, no matter what I put in front of her. It is really a battle of wills. I have tried everything to get her to eat for going on 6 months, including dr visit.. it got that bad. I now resort to “lets just call it a little snack” and feeding her late at night. I look forward to trying these new recipes for her ! I am a military wife and on my own for 4 months.. I need a little break :-)
Just one thought from the picky eater toddler side … Elizabeth, my son was the same way… after doctor visits we found he had celiac disease and so the reason he did not want to eat was because his tummy/GI tract were hurting so much from any gluten he was getting … he was too young to really tell us exactly where he wasn’t feeling well… now – he is still picky but at least we figured out there was a reason behind it… thankfully!!
It’s human nature to desire things that look appealing. What appeals to adults is going to be different than what appeals to children. So if that means taking nutritious food and cutting it into shapes or putting things into different forms like chicken and broccoli into patties so your kids will find them more appealing then I’m all for it. They’re not going to want their spelt bread and hummus sandwiches cut into hearts when they are teenagers but at least they will have learned to love it in any form by then!