As a parent, I know the struggle of finding dinner ideas that my toddler will eat. It’s especially difficult when they’re between 12-18 months old and starting to explore new tastes and textures. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of 16 realistic toddler dinner ideas for 12-18 months that have been tried and tested in my household.
These meals are not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients for growing little ones. From easy-to-make pasta dishes to healthy veggie options, these dinner ideas are sure to satisfy even the pickiest eater. So, if you need some inspiration for your next family mealtime, keep reading and get recipes for toddlers 12-18 months.
How to Cook Food Safely For Toddlers
As a parent, you want to make sure that your toddler is getting the best possible nutrition. However, cooking food for toddlers can be a challenge as their immune systems are still developing. Therefore, it’s important to take extra precautions when preparing and handling food.
- Always wash your hands before and after handling food. Use soap and water or hand sanitizer to ensure that any harmful bacteria on your hands are eliminated.
- Separate raw meat from other foods in your kitchen and use separate utensils and cutting boards when preparing them. This will prevent cross-contamination which can cause sickness.
- Cook meats thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) or higher to kill any harmful bacteria such as Salmonella or E.coli. Fourthly, refrigerate leftovers immediately after serving and use them within three days to reduce the risk of bacterial growth.
Best Feeding Supplies for 12-18 Months
The transition to solid foods is a significant milestone in every child’s development. It can be an exciting and challenging time for both the parents and the little ones. Having the right feeding supplies can make a world of difference to ensure that your child gets all the nutrients they need while enjoying their meals.
A good high chair should be sturdy, easy to clean, and adjustable to different heights. This piece of equipment will enable your child to sit upright comfortably during mealtime, making it easier for them to swallow and digest food properly.
This innovative bib covers not only your child’s front but also their lap and high chair tray, providing full coverage against spills and stains.
The bib fastens securely around the neck with adjustable snaps, ensuring a comfortable fit while keeping food from slipping underneath.
The Bibado Coverall comes in a variety of fun designs and colors, making it an entertaining accessory for mealtime that will keep your child engaged.
Pillowfort Divided Toddler Plate
This plate is made from durable materials that can withstand drops and spills, making it perfect for busy toddlers.
It features three divided sections, so you can separate different foods and avoid mixing flavors or textures. The deep sides also help keep food contained on the plate and prevent messes during mealtime.
With its practical design, the Pillowfort Divided Toddler Plate comes in a variety of fun colors and patterns that kids will love.
Ingenuity Baby Booster Seat
The Ingenuity Baby Booster Seat features a soft foam insert that provides optimal comfort for your little one during mealtime. The three-point harness keeps them safely secured while they eat, and the tray is adjustable and removable for easy cleaning.
The seat also has two adjustable straps that securely attach to most chairs, making it perfect for traveling or dining out with your little one.
Grabease Baby and Toddler Self-Feeding Utensils
These utensils are specially designed for young children who are learning how to feed themselves. The set includes a spoon and fork that fit perfectly in little hands, making it easy for toddlers to grip and control their eating movements.
The round shape of the handles also prevents choking hazards as they cannot be inserted too far into the mouth.
Made with safe materials such as BPA-free plastic, these utensils are also dishwasher safe – making cleanup a breeze. Parents can rest assured knowing that their child is using a product that is both functional and safe.
Toddler Dinner Ideas for 12-18 Months
As a parent, it can be challenging to come up with dinner ideas that your toddler will enjoy and also provide them with the necessary nutrients. Feeding a fussy eater is even more difficult. At 12-18 months, toddlers are still developing their taste buds and may not have fully embraced all food groups.
One important thing to remember when preparing dinner for your toddler is to keep it simple. They don’t need elaborate meals with intricate flavors at this stage; instead, focus on providing them with balanced meals that include vegetables, fruits, proteins, and carbohydrates. If you want Easy Toddler Dinners for 1-2 Year Olds read our detailed article to make healthy, delicious, and easy food for your baby.
Buttered Pasta w/ Veggies
Buttered pasta with veggies is an ideal dinner for toddlers aged 12-18 months. It’s quick, easy to make, and packed with nutrients that your little one needs to thrive. This dish can be made in less than 20 minutes and is perfect for busy weeknights.
To make buttered pasta with veggies, start by boiling some water in a pot and adding some salt. Once the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook it according to package instructions until it’s al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of cooking water.
In another pan, melt some butter over medium heat and add finely chopped garlic. Cook for about a minute or until fragrant before adding diced vegetables such as zucchini or carrots. Sauté until the veggies are tender but still crispy.
Meatballs, Steamed Veggies & Sweet Potato Fries
This meal is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients that are crucial for your child’s growth and development.
To prepare this meal, start by making homemade meatballs using ground beef or turkey mixed with breadcrumbs, egg, and finely chopped onion and seasonings. You can bake them in the oven or fry them in a pan until they are browned on all sides.
For the steamed veggies, choose colorful vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans which provide essential vitamins and minerals for your growing toddler.
Pulled chicken is a great option for toddler dinner ideas for 12-18 months. It’s easy to make and can be customized to your child’s taste preferences. Plus, it’s packed with protein which is important for growing toddlers.
To make pulled chicken, simply cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a slow cooker or pressure cooker until they are tender enough to shred with a fork. Then add your favorite seasoning or sauce such as BBQ sauce or taco seasoning. Serve the pulled chicken on its own or as a sandwich filling.
For toddlers who are just starting to eat solid foods, try cutting the pulled chicken into small pieces or mashing it up with some avocado or sweet potato for added nutrition. You can also mix in some cooked vegetables like peas and carrots to make it a complete meal.
Broccoli & Cheese Quesadilla
This dish is packed with healthy veggies and protein-rich cheese, making it a well-rounded meal that’s sure to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
To make the broccoli and cheese quesadilla, simply sauté some chopped broccoli in a bit of olive oil until it’s tender. Then, sprinkle on some shredded cheddar cheese and fold the mixture into a tortilla.
Heat the quesadilla in a pan until the cheese is melted and gooey, then cut it into bite-sized pieces for your little one to enjoy. You can even serve it with some avocado or sour cream for added flavor!
Mac & Cheese
Mac & Cheese is a classic dish that many adults still enjoy today. However, it can also be a great addition to any toddler’s diet.
As toddlers are going through their growth spurts and requiring more nutrients, mac & cheese can provide them with the necessary calcium and protein they need for healthy development.
When making mac & cheese for toddlers between 12-18 months old, there are some important things to keep in mind. First, opt for whole-grain pasta instead of regular white pasta.
This will give your toddler added fiber and nutrients that they may not get from white pasta alone. Secondly, use low-fat milk and cheese to reduce the amount of saturated fat in the meal.
Consider adding some pureed vegetables like butternut squash or sweet potato to sneak in some extra vitamins and minerals. Learn about Fun Toddler Breakfast Ideas for One Year Olds to keep your baby happy and healthy.
Cauliflower tots are a great way to introduce your toddler to new vegetables. These tasty little bites are perfect for little hands and make an excellent snack or side dish for dinner.
Cauliflower is loaded with essential nutrients that support healthy growth and development in young children. It’s high in vitamin C, which boosts the immune system, and vitamin K, which supports bone health.
Cauliflower also contains fiber, which aids digestion and promotes healthy bowel movements. Making these tots at home is easy – all you need is some grated cauliflower, egg, breadcrumbs, cheese, and seasonings of your choice.
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and shape them into small tots before baking until golden brown.
Deconstructed Taco Plate
This dish offers an exciting blend of flavors and textures that will make mealtime more enjoyable for your little one. Besides, it’s simple to prepare, making it perfect for busy parents who are always on the go.
To create this dish, start by preparing some brown rice or quinoa in a pot according to package instructions. Once cooked, add some black beans and diced tomatoes to the rice/quinoa mixture and stir well.
Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Next, peel and dice avocado into bite-sized pieces before slicing up some cherry tomatoes into halves or quarters. Lastly, cook some ground beef with some chili powder until fully cooked through.
Pasta w/ Red Sauce
It’s quick to prepare and can be customized to suit your child’s taste. To start, choose a pasta shape that is easy for your toddler to eat, such as macaroni or penne. Cook the pasta according to the package directions and set it aside.
For the red sauce, you can use a store-bought jar of tomato sauce or make your own by sautéing garlic and onions in olive oil before adding canned tomatoes and seasoning with salt, pepper, and Italian herbs.
If your toddler prefers chunky textures, you can even add some diced vegetables like carrots or zucchini to the sauce.
Steak & Mashed Cauliflower
Steak and mashed cauliflower make for a delicious meal that’s perfect for toddlers aged 12-18 months. This dish is packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for your toddler’s growth and development.
In addition to being nutritious, steak and mashed cauliflower are also easy to prepare, making them a great option for busy parents.
To start, choose a high-quality cut of steak like ribeye or filet mignon. Season it with salt and pepper before cooking it on the grill or in a cast iron skillet until it reaches your desired level of doneness.
While the steak cooks, steam some fresh cauliflower until tender before mashing it up with butter or olive oil and a splash of milk or cream to create creamy mashed cauliflower.
This meal is perfect for children aged 12-18 months and offers a fun twist on traditional Mexican cuisine.
To make deconstructed fajitas, start by cooking up some chicken or beef and slicing it into small pieces. Then, slice up some bell peppers and onions and sauté them until they are tender.
Serve the meat, peppers, and onions in separate bowls alongside tortilla strips and shredded cheese. Let your little ones build their fajita by selecting their preferred ingredients!
Not only is this meal a great way to introduce new flavors to your child’s palate, but it also encourages independence as they assemble their dish. Plus, with all the different components available, you can easily tailor the meal to fit your child’s preferences or dietary restrictions.
Baked Chicken Tenders
Baked Chicken Tenders are a great toddler dinner idea for children aged 12-18 months. They are easy to make and require only a few ingredients, making this meal perfect for busy parents who want to provide their little ones with a healthy and nutritious dinner.
To prepare baked chicken tenders, simply cut chicken breast into small pieces and season with your favorite herbs and spices. Then, dip the chicken pieces in egg wash and coat them in bread crumbs before baking in the oven until fully cooked.
This dish is not only delicious but also packed with protein that will help your toddler grow strong.
As a parent, it’s important to offer toddlers healthy food choices that they will enjoy eating. Baked Chicken Tenders are perfect for picky eaters who may shy away from other types of meat or vegetables.
Teriyaki Bowls are a delicious and healthy meal option for toddlers aged 12-18 months. These bowls consist of rice, vegetables, and protein tossed in a sweet and savory teriyaki sauce. They are not only easy to prepare but also packed with essential nutrients that your little one needs.
To make these Teriyaki Bowls, start by cooking some brown rice according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, slice up some veggies like broccoli, bell peppers, and carrots into small bite-sized pieces.
Then sauté them in a pan until they are tender yet still crisp. Add some cooked chicken or tofu to the pan along with the teriyaki sauce and stir everything together.
One of the best things about Teriyaki Bowls is that you can customize them based on your toddler’s preferences and dietary restrictions.
Grilled Broccoli & Cheese
Grilled broccoli and cheese is an ideal dinner option for toddlers between the ages of 12 to 18 months. Not only is it easy to prepare, but it’s also a healthy food choice that provides all the essential nutrients growing children need.
It’s a great opportunity to introduce your little ones to new tastes and textures while helping them develop their taste buds.
Broccoli is packed with vitamins A, C, and K as well as fiber and calcium. Grilling broccoli helps retain its nutritional value while adding a smoky flavor that enhances its natural sweetness.
Adding cheese provides another source of protein and calcium, essential for building strong bones in babies. You can use any type of cheese you like – cheddar, mozzarella, or parmesan – depending on what your child likes best.
To make grilled broccoli and cheese at home, start by washing the broccoli thoroughly under running water.
Baked Chicken & Sweet Potatoes
Not only is this recipe simple to make, but it’s also packed with essential nutrients that growing toddlers need. The chicken is an excellent source of protein, while sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and other vitamins and minerals that support healthy growth and development. Plus, the natural sweetness of the potatoes makes them appealing to even the fussiest eaters.
Baked beans are a great addition to your toddler’s dinner menu, especially if you’re looking for simple and nutritious options that won’t take up too much of your time. This classic dish is easy to prepare and can be customized according to your child’s preferences. It can also be served as a side dish or a main course, depending on how you choose to present it.
To make baked beans, all you need is a can of beans (such as navy or black beans), some tomato sauce or ketchup, brown sugar, and spices like onion powder and garlic powder.
Simply mix these ingredients in a casserole dish or slow cooker and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour. You can also add other ingredients like diced ham or sausage for extra protein and flavor.
Deconstructed Sandwich Plate
It’s an easy way to give your child familiar flavors and textures while also encouraging them to explore new foods.
To start, select a few different types of bread such as whole wheat, pita, or English muffins, and cut them into small pieces. Next, choose some protein options like sliced turkey or chicken, hard-boiled eggs, or hummus. Add in some veggies like sliced cucumber or carrot sticks and finish off with some cheese cubes.
Arrange everything on a plate so that it’s easy for your toddler to pick up and try different combinations. This meal is not only nutritious but it also encourages fine motor skills as well as independent feeding skills in young children. Read Why Does Similac Make Babies Constipated?
Conclusion – Toddler Dinner Ideas for 12-18 Months
Being a parent can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to feeding your toddler. However, with these 16 realistic toddler dinner ideas for 12-18 months, mealtime can become less of a hassle and more enjoyable for both you and your little one.
Remember to always prioritize your child’s nutritional needs and preferences while also introducing new foods to expand their taste buds. With patience and creativity, mealtime doesn’t have to be a battle. Embrace the messiness, cherish the memories, and watch your toddler grow into a healthy eater.
Let’s start cooking with meal ideas for 12 month old. For elder children, there are many meals for 14 month old and meal ideas for 15 month old which I will cover in the next topic.