Tips for Feeding Your Pre-Toddler

Tips for Feeding Your Pre-Toddler. Tips for feeding your 12-18 month old. What to feed and when to feed.

pretoddler eating corn
Tips for Feeding Your Pre-Toddler. Tips for feeding your 12-18 month old. What to feed and when to feed.

When Brayden got to the age where he was ready to start eating “real” food and not baby food, I was at a bit of a loss. I loved baby food because I could directly control the amount of fruits and vegetables entering his body. I could also easily measure and see how many servings he was getting.

Alas, you do have to relinquish that control and let your child feed himself. Some are perfectly happy to continue on into their second year of life eating mushy baby food. Others (like my Kaitlyn) start protesting such things much younger.

There are a lot of helpful books out there that offer food advice, and even books made just for feeding our babies and toddlers. We obviously are concerned over the subject 🙂 I would recommend getting a book to help guide you if you are concerned or unsure. What to Expect the First Year (affiliate) has good information on foods safe for babies. Another book I have heard of, but not read, is Super Baby Food (affiliate). It covers from birth up to 3 years of age.

One thing to remember is that most pre-toddlers have a dramatic decrease in food intake around one year of age. This is perfectly normal. “Most babies triple their birth weight in the first year; in the second year they add only about a third of their weight” (What to Expect the First Year (affiliate), p.489).

What to Feed Your Pre-Toddler at Meals

I kept focus on the same types of food at each meal once Brayden hit one year old. He suddenly was able to eat a lot more variety, but I still worked the basic fruits and veggies into meals, just in solid form. He also still loved the baby cereal, so I continued to have him eat it at breakfast. Here is the schedule:

Breakfast: cereal and fruit.
Lunch: green veggie, fruit, and whatever else I was eating.
Dinner: Yellow veggie, fruit, and whatever else we were eating as a family.


Always be aware of what your child is and isn’t capable of chewing. Cut things up as needed. Also, remember to try to offer all the colors of the rainbow when feeding fruits and veggies to your child.

  • Bananas have always been a hit
  • Apples cut up (diced)
  • Any other fruit in season (peaches, strawberries, plums, grapes (I cut those up for quite a while), apricots, pears, melons…you get the idea)
  • Fruit cups are nice in the winter. They sell some with no sugar added
  • Sugar-free, all-natural apple sauce


Veggies are more difficult for a toddler because they are hard and not the type of thing you gum unless they are cooked and soft. Once molars come in, things can be chewed better, but they still need to be monitored and evaluated how much needs to be cut up.

Tips for Feeding Your Pre-Toddler. Tips for feeding your 12-18 month old. What to feed and when to feed.
  • Frozen peas or other vegetables, cooked
  • Any fresh vegetable cooked
  • Carrots cut up to bite size pieces. Note that a carrot takes a long time to chew. Brayden still will stuff his mouth full of carrots and get bored with chewing them. You might have to monitor how many go in if your child doesn’t do it himself.
  • Broccoli cut up to bite size.
  • Tomatoes, diced–I know, they are a fruit, but then they are a vegetable with certain classification rules…I am just putting them here. Do what you want with it.
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumbers cut up
  • You get the idea. Whatever you eat, you can give your child so long as it is either cooked and/or cut up appropriately.

Other Foods

  • Most kids love bread. I give both of mine wheat or whole grain.
  • Bagels, again, wheat or whole grain
  • Cheese. I dice it when they are young. Brayden still likes his diced
  • Pancakes, waffles, etc.
  • Olives…I guess that technically goes above, but I don’t count it in my fruit intake for some reason
  • Eggs, though Brayden still doesn’t like them
  • Yogurt–still a necessity for Brayden’s breakfast
  • Any meat you see fit. Make sure it is properly cooked and easy for baby to chew

Eat What You Eat

Since he started eating real, solid food, Brayden (now 2.5) has always eatten what we are eating. He will eat whatever we eat. I don’t have to make him separate dinners. He eats enchiladas, BBQ chicken, spaghetti with sauce, lasagna, turkey steak, tacos…he eats it all. Yes, we have had our run with peanut butter and jelly being the preferred item, but he always gets what we are having first. He isn’t hungry for PB&J following his meal. He does get it for lunch a lot. Take note that eating peanut butter should be discussed with your doctor before you do it. If you have no family history of allergies, it should be okay after age one. If you do, however, many doctors will suggest you wait until age two, three, or even four.

Brayden didn’t start eating meat until he was 2. His doctor was surprised that he didn’t like it when I went to his 2 year old appointment, so I started to get him to eat it. He still isn’t a big meat-eater, and he does fine with protein from other sources.

Make it Easier on Yourself

When I cook a veggie or cut up something, I do extra and then store it for a couple of days. I cook extra peas. I cut up extra cheese. And so on. I do this so that I don’t have to do it every day. You can store in a Tupperware or baggie in the fridge.

Happy eating!

Reader Questions:

  • sarah said…
    Did you ever try the meat in the baby food jars? My sixth month old is a great eater and follows the same schedule as you do for Kaitlyn. I was just wondering if you have added meat at all?Thanks! I love your blog.
    April 8, 2008 10:05 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    Meat is an interesting thing. I have read, and my pedi holds to this, that you shouldn’t introduce it before 9 months. But I know one woman whose doctor recommends it after 6 months.I haven’t ever given jarred meat. I think it is something in my head that jarred meat just sounds gross…:) Of course, lots of babies eat and love it. My son wouldn’t really eat meat until after his second birthday. I started to encourage it when his doctor showed surprise that he didn’t eat meat. He eats small amounts. He gets protein from other sources.
    April 8, 2008 10:24 PM