From 12 months of age, continue to offer your toddler a wide variety of nutritious foods at regular meal and snack times over the day.
Your toddler can now eat most family foods that the adults eat, although in a more ‘toddler-friendly’ form. For example, they may need their food cut up, hard fruits and veggies soft-cooked and meals with less spices and seasoning.
Encourage toddlers to have had a go at feeding themselves with a spoon and picking up finger foods, this is an important part of their development. Try giving your toddler one spoon, while you have another. They can learn by copying what you do, and at least some food will make it into their mouth.
Offering your toddler finger foods during meal and snack times is a great way to give them more independence at meal times, and it will also help develop their hand-eye co-ordination skills and encourage fine motor skills.
Self-feeding can help your toddler become more accepting of new foods. They can take their time to investigate and become familiar with what’s on their plate.
Messy mealtimes are a common part of learning about the way food feels, smells and tastes. Don’t worry too much, as your child gets older there will be plenty of time for them to learn about eating with less mess!
Finger foods need to be a size that can easily be picked up by a toddler and in appropriate shapes and soft textures to reduce the risk of choking - you can find some handy tips here. Ensure toddlers are sitting down and be sure to always watch them while they are eating.
Here are a few finger food ideas:
- Chopped fresh ripe banana, strawberries, kiwifruit, apricot
- Grapes cut in quarters
- Cooked carrot and capsicum sticks with hummus
- Puffed crispbread or rice cakes with smooth peanut butter or avocado
- Cooked pasta pieces
- Small sandwiches
- Toasted sandwiches
- Mini pikelets, muffins or scones
- Egg omelette cut into strips
- Soft boiled egg with toast fingers
- Slices of tofu (soft)
- Grated or thinly sliced full-fat cheese
- Finely chopped cucumber or tomato
For more inspiration, download our finger food and small meal ideas for 9 months+ and 12 months+ here. There are some great ideas here for the kids’ lunchboxes.
Ministry of Health. 2021. Healthy Eating Guidelines for New Zealand Babies and Toddlers (0-2 years old). Wellington: Ministry of Health.
The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.