toddler eating a healthy meal

Meal Plan for 18 to 24 Months Old Toddlers

Jump to meal plan
toddler eating a healthy meal

What should you know about feeding your 18- to 24-month-old toddler?

  • Follow their cues: Your little one knows when they are hungry and full, let them guide how much they eat
  • Tips for picky eating: You provide healthy foods at mealtimes, let your toddler choose what and how much to eat

By 18 months, your child can eat the same foods as the rest of the family, making mealtime much easier to figure out. At this age, offer your little one food every 2 to 3 hours since their tummies are still pretty small and they’ll need to eat frequently throughout the day to get the nutrients needed for development.1 This usually ends up being 3 meals and about 2 to 3 nutritious snacks daily.

Follow your toddler’s hunger and fullness cues

Your little one may be able to verbalize when they are hungry and when satisfied. Their developing communication skills may also include voicing their likes and dislikes when it comes to which foods they prefer to eat. Make sure to listen to your little one’s hunger and fullness cues to help them build strong internal feeding cues as well as a healthy relationship with food.2

To help nurture your child’s internal cues, provide meals without distractions such as the TV or other screens.3

Read more: Understanding Your Baby’s Hunger and Fullness Cues

Tips for picky eating

You may find your little one becoming a bit picky at this age. Try not to let this be discouraging. Your goal as the parent is to provide healthy food choices and set specific times to eat. Your child’s job is to decide how much of the foods you provide to eat, or if they eat them at all!4, 5 This is called the Division of Responsibility.

While them leaving food on the plate may feel frustrating, don’t force your little one to eat something. Over time, and as they watch you eat these foods, they will become more comfortable and may eventually eat them.6 Keep mealtime a positive experience and offer disliked or new foods over and over again!

Read more: Avoiding Picky Eating

Learning Center Ads article 4 18to24monthmealplan

Utensil time!

By 18 months, your little one may be fairly proficient at eating with a spoon. At each meal, provide toddler utensils to allow your child lots of practice.7, 8 The same goes for cups. At meals, provide water or milk in a plastic cup to help your little one develop their skills.1

Read more: Transitioning to Cups for Babies and Toddlers

Fully transitioned to cow’s milk

By now, your child should have transitioned from infant formula to whole milk or soy milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends drinking about 16 ounces per day, with a max of 24 ounces (2 to 3 cups).9 If you are still breastfeeding, you can continue to do so as both you and your child desire.10, 11

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that your little one be fully weaned from a bottle between 12 and 24 months.12

Read more: What Type of Milk Should my Toddler Drink?

The below meal plan for 18 – 24-month-olds provides snack and recipe ideas that will help you to provide your child with nutritious choices that will continue to influence their taste development and food preferences.

Pro Tips for feeding your 18- to 24-month-old:

As your child gets older and life gets busier, it may seem easier to choose quicker, more convenient foods. However, many ready-to-eat convenience foods are highly processed and contain added sugars and excess salt; read the label before you offer these to your tot.13

Your child’s taste preferences are still developing so be sure to offer them mostly whole, fresh foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. The food you serve your child during this stage can influence what they prefer to eat later in life.14

Need healthy snack ideas? Check out: Healthy Snacks for Babies and Toddlers

For more information on picky eating, please visit our Picky Eating Hub.

Breakfast

Lunch

 

  • Option 1: Whole wheat pasta mixed with white beans and tomato sauce
  • Option 2: Turkey roll up: whole wheat tortilla with hummus spread, turkey and sliced cucumber
  • Option 3: Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
  • Option 4: Avocado Tuna Salad in Mini Pita Pockets
  • Option 5: Tex-Mex pizza: whole grain pita topped with tomato sauce, cheddar cheese, and black or pinto beans

Dinner

Snacks

 

Let’s Chat!

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-8pm (EST), and Saturday – Sunday 8am-4pm (EST). Chat Now!

Read more about the experts that help write our content! 

 

For more on this topic, check out the following articles and recipes:

Why folate matters for babies, tots and mama

Why omega 3s matter for babies, tots and mama

Healthy snacks for babies and toddlers

Avoiding picky eating

Family meals: modeling and enjoying healthy eating patterns

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.

 

Sources

More yummy meal plans.

Serve Up Those Superfoods

Serve Up Those Superfoods

Serve Up Those Superfoods

Our Happy Family Organic Superfoods Cookbook for Baby & Toddler is chock-full of yummy, easy-to-prepare meals your whole family will love.

Get it here