Our two year old picky toddler eats 3 meals and 2 snacks a day.... on a good day. I am sharing his typical eating schedule and some of his meals to see if this will help other parents who are struggling to figure out the best eating schedule for their toddler and what to feed their picky toddler.
Some days I am rockin' it as a mom. We play, we laugh, we read books, our son eats well, takes a good nap, and is in bed by 8.
Other days, I have no idea what we're doing and I am counting the minutes until bed time and the years until he turns 18.
Anyone else out there feel the same way??
So I wanted to share our toddler's eating schedule because it never hurts to get a sanity check and make sure you're doing things right.
When you're dealing with a picky eater, your whole day can be consumed with the thought of when and what you're doing to feed your kid. It is exhausting, stressful, and often not productive. I've been there. I'm still there some days.
That's why I started this blog, to show you that you are not alone.
The following is my picky eater son's eating schedule. In summary, he eats 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, on a "good eating day" and drinks 2-3 bottles of milk per day.
I asked several friends with toddler-aged kids and they all had a similar breakdown with the number of meals/snacks, though of course there are variations.
Use this as a rough guide, and adjust to your schedule, your child's day, and your child's caloric needs.
Picky toddler eating schedule (and what he eats)
7:30 am: bottle of milk (soy milk, because of food allergies).
Milk is all he gets in the morning because (1) I am not a morning person and I am just too sleepy to deal with breakfast so early in the morning, sorry kiddo, and (2) he doesn't really like to eat first thing in the morning anyway. In fact, it took us forever to train him to drink milk that early in the morning. Up until he was 18 months he usually refused ANY milk or food before ~9am, which contributed to him being so underweight because he was essentially missing out on one "meal" per day.
9:30 - 10 am: breakfast
Breakfast is usually a banana or homemade high-calorie pureed baby food, plus a few cheerios. Sometimes it is a store-bought baby food, in which case I give him a half a cup of cheerios to add some more calories to his meal.
Sometimes we eat pancakes for breakfast, but our son really doesn't like most bread and cake-like textures, so he usually has a few bites at best and then we give him a banana or baby food. And no, we're not just short-order cooks. We can tell when he really gives something an honest effort and really dislikes it, so we don't make him eat it because we want him to have a positive memory of that food so he would try again another time!
12:30 pm: lunch
Lunch often consists of high-calorie foods such as French fries, chicken nuggets, or this vegetable soup with macaroni, as well as a few pieces of fruits or veggies. This is so he can eat quickly and get a lot of his
If our son is in a good mood I will definitely add a new food or two to his plate to see if he'll try it. Sometimes it works, especially if I use one of these sensory tricks to get my son to eat.
1:30 pm: bottle of milk
This is to help him settle down for his nap.
4 pm: fruit & veggie snack
Usually some combination of sliced cucumber (this was his first vegetable that he ate!), tomato, bell pepper, and/or cut up fruit.
6 pm: dinner
Ideally, dinner would consist of what my husband and I are having for dinner though that is not always possible since our son doesn't eat that many things.
Our son will usually eat chicken, tender pulled pork, and fish. He LOVES rice and pasta. I usually try to make at least one of those for dinner so I don't have to make two meals every night and our son can have at least one of our dinner foods.
If we are having something he will likely not eat, I will still put some of our food on his plate but will also have other food available, such as rice, pasta, a tortilla with turkey meat, or chicken strips or nuggets.
We always rely on our picky eater foods worksheet to make sure we don't fall into a rut and are regularly offering our son all kinds of different foods. It helps me get ideas for what to make for dinner and what to feed our son.
7:30 pm: snack time!
Our son is pretty underweight, so we try to fit another filling snack into the day. This is typically something like a large handful of goldfish crackers, or a mini tortilla with deli-sliced turkey or ham and cucumber in it
8 pm: bottle of milk before bed
Crossing our fingers and praying to the sleep god that he is asleep by 8:30.
Is this eating schedule similar to your toddler's eating schedule?
Of course, not every day goes according to plan. There are days where our son barely has 2 meals. There are days when we up the snacks just to get some calories into him when we realize it's 5 pm and he hasn't really eaten all day. In this case, we often try to use one of these tricks to get him to eat.
There are days when he doesn't nap and everything goes haywire. Days when he eats French fries twice a day (though we try to switch things up, like I describe here in my French fries for picky eaters blog post).
But we aim to stick to this eating schedule and it's working well enough.
What does your toddler's eating schedule look like? How much milk does your toddler drink, if any? Please let me know in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you.
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