Inside: In need of some easy toddler meal ideas? And what about snacks and when to feed your toddler these meals and snacks? Let me help you simplify feeding your toddler with these healthy meal ideas and a sample toddler feeding schedule.
If you’re looking for simple, nutritious and most importantly, *realistic* toddler meal ideas, you’re in the right place.
Each and every snack & meal idea shared in this post, is something I made for my 2 year old.
Like you, I am a busy mom who wears many hats throughout any given day. I don’t have time for complicated recipes or making all.the.things from scratch, and I know you don’t either.
Meal planning, grocery shopping, food prepping, cooking & serving meals…the list goes on. Feeding a family is downright exhausting.
But today, we are going to de-stress (at least where mealtime is concerned) and chat about easy meals your toddler will love. And don’t worry, I’ve got simple ideas for morning snacks, on-the-go snacks & lunches plus, post-nap (afternoon) snacks, and even bedtime snacks if necessary.
I’ll also walk you step-by-step through the optimal toddler feeding schedule, meaning the times of day your toddler should have their meals and snacks.
* Should * being the important word here.
We’re not after perfection here – my goal is simply to share with you the natural flow of eating and snacking throughout the day for a toddler.
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Sample Toddler Feeding Schedule
(What Time Should I Feed My Toddler?)
The times of day your toddler eats largely depends on two factors:
- The time they wake up in the morning
- The time they go to bed at night.
Their hunger is also the best indicator of how much they should eat. After all, they know their bodies best. Let their hunger guide how much they eat and you guide when they eat.
This does not mean that your kitchen needs to be open all day.
As parents, we set the snack and mealtimes for our families. Whether your toddler chooses to eat at those set times is up to them. You can always remind them that “there will be another snack after naptime” – or – “we just finished breakfast, we’ll have something else to eat after we play outside.“
Note: if your toddler has a habit of waking up too early, it’s important to pick a “start time” for the day for when food will be available.
For example: I don’t start making breakfast until 7:15 AM. If my 2 year wakes up at 6 AM, she can play quietly in her room until 7 AM when her nightlight turns green.
This process is also known as “setting your internal clock” – their bodies need to get used to a specific time for eating first thing in the morning. If you feed your toddler at 6:00 AM every day, then they will continue to wake at 6:00 AM everyday to eat – not desirable!
Sample Daily Feeding Schedule for a 2 Year Old
Please remember that all kids are different! This is just to give you an idea and help guide you in planning meals. Just a friendly reminder that I am not a nutritionist or dietitian, as always, I’m sharing what works for me and my kids.
What is a good feeding schedule for a 2 year old?
A “good” feeding schedule is one that works for you! Think about your 2 year old’s daily routine and work backward from there.
7 AM – Wake Up
7:30 AM – Breakfast
9:30 or 10 AM – Morning Snack
12:00 PM – Lunch
1:00 PM – Naptime
3:15 or 3:30 PM – Afternoon Snack
5:30 PM – Dinner
6:30 PM – Bedtime snack (if necessary)
When should I offer my toddler a bedtime snack?
Remember – you know your toddler best. When your little one is going through a growth spurt, you’ll know. How? Because it will feel like they never.stop.eating.
If you feel that your toddler is still hungry at bedtime, it’s okay to offer a filling – but boring – snack.
You don’t want your toddler to make it a habit of refusing dinner in order to get an exciting bedtime snack.
What should I offer as a bedtime snack?
Here are some nutritious mix-and-match ideas to offer a toddler for a bedtime snack.
- Peanut butter + crackers (We like Simple Mills crackers)
- Whole milk
- Small portion of oatmeal
What these foods all have in common is that they are filling – and a toddler who is growing needs nourishing, filling options, not empty calories.
How many meals or snacks should my toddler eat in a day?
Again, you know your child best! Some days your toddler may eat nonstop and other days they may take one bite and be done. Yes, this is just life with a 2 year old.
- It’s important to take into account what your toddler eats throughout the week, not just in a single day.
- Toddlers are also known for front-loading their calories, meaning they may eat a huge breakfast, small lunch and even smaller dinner. This is normal.
- As kids get older, growth slows down a bit, so you may notice that your 4 year old eats less than your 2 year old.
- Most kids this age will need 3 meals and 2 snacks. That being said, it’s okay if your toddler is more (or less) hungry and requires more (or less) meals and snacks.
Meal Ideas for a 2 Year Old Toddler
Here you’ll find a sample “day in the life” of what my 2 year old ate in a single day for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Easy Toddler Breakfast Idea
- Scrambled eggs
- Shredded cheese
- Avocado on English Muffin (we like Dave’s Killer Bread)
- Chopped Strawberries
For more breakfast ideas: Quick Breakfasts for 2 Year Olds
Quick Morning Snack
- Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies
- 2 baby Mandarin oranges (not pictured)
I shared the crazy simple recipe for these 3 ingredient breakfast cookies over on my Instagram page. Just scroll down a little on my profile and you’ll see this picture and the recipe.
Healthy Toddler Lunch Idea
- Tuna salad on mini whole wheat pita (We like Wild Planet tuna)
- Chopped tomatoes and cucumbers
- Cheddar cheese cubes
Note: My little girl LOVES tuna salad. If that’s not their thing, sub in chicken salad, smashed chick peas, or make it a mini PB&J.
Afternoon Snack (Post-Naptime)
- Veggie Straws
- Sliced bell peppers
Easy Toddler Dinner Idea (that works for the whole family)
- Cooked black beans
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Diced avocado
- Chopped tomatoes
- Tortillas & sour cream (not pictured)
Bedtime Snack (if needed)
- Apples & peanut butter (We like Whole Foods 365 Unsweetened Peanut Butter)
- Late July crackers
- Whole grain banana bread
Note: this bedtime snack also makes a great morning or afternoon snack as well.
More Toddler Meal Inspiration:
- 8 Healthy Toddler Breakfast Ideas
- What I Fed My Kids This Week
- Make-Ahead Preschool Lunchbox Ideas
- 3 Year Old Meal Ideas & Feeding Schedule