Healthy Finger Food Ideas for Picky Toddlers

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The number one question that gets posted in my mom groups is, of course, "Are your kids eating, like, AT ALL?" What is it about being between 18 and 24 months that turns toddlers into the weirdest eaters of all time? Kids who used to happily eat just about everything suddenly reject things they used to love and demand buckets of ketchup with everything. 

Forrest definitely has his moments of refusing to eat anything, but thankfully, I know I can usually get him to eat a few tried-and-true things. But some of our former staples (like quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches) are now on his "no" list. You read that right--he refuses to eat cheese now. 

To make mealtimes easier, I started experimenting with finger foods that I could use to either substitute what he was already eating (without resorting to a peanut butter and jelly every single night) and were a little healthier. These are what I came up with. 

1. Tiny Pancakes

I make Forrest banana and egg pancakes (like the kind you see on Pinterest, here is a good recipe, although I add diced up fruit, cinnamon, and two tablespoons of flour as well); for snacks and lunches, I will sometimes make "tiny pancakes." This is just a tiny dot of batter on the griddle. A few dots adds up to a little bowl of cute pancakes, something he can snack on during dinner or after his nap. They're easy and at least it's not a handful of Teddy Grahams, right? 

2. Steamed, Diced Carrots with Ketchup & Ranch

Every mother is now staring at their screen like, "you're joking, right?" I know, this sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, but trust me. I could never get Forrest to eat carrots... if I left them whole. I steam him a few baby carrots for lunch nearly every day and was basically throwing them away untouched.

One day, I decided to dice them into pieces, toss them in a little butter and garlic salt, and present them with some ketchup and ranch for dipping. He ate every single one. This may be further proof that toddlers will eat nearly anything with their favorite dips, but I think it made him think those pieces of carrot were something else. This is now a staple for lunch and dinner for him. If you have a microwave steamer, it's especially easy. 

3. Veggie Nuggets

Forrest will eat chicken, fruit, and carbs until the cows come home. But veggies are where we really struggle. I've really discovered that he needs his veggie disguised--either in applesauce pouches or in nugget form. 

We buy our veggie nuggets (this is my favorite brand and variety, you can get them at Whole Foods and most grocery stores). But I have made them before and they're surprisingly easy. I like this recipe for them, because it includes lentils--perfect for if you worry your toddler isn't getting enough iron.