Meal Plan for Gluten Free Infants and Toddlers
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a genetic condition that affects 1-2% of the population.1 It results in an autoimmune reaction to gluten, a protein found in certain grains including wheat, rye, barley and their derivatives.2
When these proteins are present in the diet of someone with celiac disease, they can damage the lining of the intestines and make it difficult for the body to absorb important nutrients.3
Symptoms of celiac disease include (but are not limited to):
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea and/or constipation
- Poor weight gain
- Canker sores, skin rashes.2, 4
What causes Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease mostly develops due to genetics. In fact, gluten normally does not cause harm unless the person is allergic to it. Avoiding gluten if you do not have celiac disease is not likely to decrease or increase the risk of developing the disease.5, 6
What should you do if you think your infant or toddler has celiac disease?
If you suspect your child has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consult your child’s doctor for proper testing.
Should your little one be diagnosed with celiac disease, you can ask their doctor for a referral to a dietitian who specializes in celiac disease to help you get started with planning their diet.
If your child tests negative for a gluten allergy, your doctor may look for a different cause for your child’s symptoms.
Gluten free diet for your infant or toddler
If your child tests positive for celiac disease their doctor will likely recommend they follow a gluten-free diet.
A wide variety of foods should still be included in your little one’s eating pattern to ensure they are getting the nutrients needed for growth and development.
Grains that contain gluten include: Wheat, rye, and barley.
Grains that do NOT contain gluten include: Corn, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, rice, and teff.
It may seem like everything contains gluten and that there are limited options, but there are many foods that will fit into your child’s diet which are naturally gluten free. There are even substitutions for some of your favorites, such as gluten-free pastas, pizza dough, and breads.
It may take some time navigating these new dietary restrictions as you familiarize yourself with the do’s and don’ts of a gluten free diet.
If your little one is diagnosed with celiac disease, they must be gluten-free including less obvious sources of gluten. Not so obvious sources include lunch meats, broths, sauces, condiments, and marinades. Be sure to read all food labels. If there’s questionable ingredients, it’s best to skip it until you have confirmation that it is gluten free.
The below meal plan provides meal, snack, and recipe ideas to help get you started with a gluten-free diet for your infant or toddler. Be sure to modify and provide your baby food textures they can handle at their age and stage of eating.
- Option 1: Omelet with finely chopped spinach and mushrooms
- Option 2: Cottage cheese with diced pears and cinnamon
- Option 3: Gluten free Oatmeal or quinoa cereal with sliced or diced berries
- Option 4: Silver Dollar Pancakes
- Option 5: Breakfast Papaya Boats
- Option 1: Make Your Own Zucchini Pizza Rounds
- Option 2: Baked sweet potato topped with shredded turkey and tomatoes
- Option 3: Brown rice or quinoa bowl: layer rice or quinoa with roasted, chopped broccoli, and black beans
- Option 4: Tuna fish (light) wrapped in a brown rice tortilla topped with sliced cucumbers
- Option 5: Shredded or diced chicken or turkey with black beans, avocado and corn
- Option 1: Easy Veggie “Fried” Rice
- Option 2: Lentil Stew
- Option 3: Ground turkey tacos with corn tortillas (soft or hard) and diced peppers
- Option 4: Baked fish with green bean “fries”
- Option 5: Fork mashed salmon and soft cooked cauliflower
- Option 1: Green Parmesan “Chips”
- Option 2: Hummus with veggies
- Option 3: String cheese or cubed cheese and grapes (cut in half)
- Option 4: Apple with nut or seed butter
- Option 5: Stay Fresh Fruit Salad
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitians certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday – Friday 8am-6pm (ET), and Saturday – Sunday 8am-2pm (ET). Chat Now!
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For more on this topic, check out the following articles and recipes:
Our meal plans offer recipe and meal suggestions for your child. They are not designed to replace your doctor’s recommendations, nor do they take into account special nutritional needs, including allergies and intolerances. The meal plans suggest serving sizes that may or may not be appropriate for your child. Please consult your doctor to determine what is best for your child.