How-Tos, Inside Nurture Life, Toddlers

How to Introduce Your Toddler to Nurture Life’s Healthy Toddler Meals

The toddler years are packed with milestone after milestone. You’ll see your little one learning how to walk and run, how to string words into phrases and how to push your buttons with their newfound independence. Part of this exciting transition is the move away from baby food to “real” table food—giving your growing toddler a taste of what the big kids get to eat! 

When your little one is showing signs of readiness to leave Stage 3 behind, take advantage of this simple guide for a smooth transition to Nurture Life’s healthy toddler meals.

What to Order 

If you’re ordering Nurture Life’s toddler meal delivery for the first time, you might be wondering which meals make the best starter box. The short answer is that every one of our Toddler Meals is nutrient-dense, well-balanced and kid-friendly—so there’s no bad option! All of our meals have been developed by registered dietitians to give your toddler:

We’re extremely selective about our Toddler Meal menu because we know—and the research shows—that these early years of eating are critical to a child’s physical growth and palate development. The eating habits, mealtime memories and taste preferences that your toddler develops now will affect their choices for a lifetime! We take that responsibility very seriously.

healthy kids meals

Tips for Selecting Your Toddler Meals

Although every Nurture Life Toddler Meal is a nutritional and developmental home run, there are a few recommended ways to choose your child’s meals:

  • Start with the more familiar. Serving an already-accepted flavor or ingredient, like mashed potatoes or chicken, will help the transition to table food feel less scary. 
  • Check out our meals for picky toddlers. If you already know that your little one tends to be picky, try out any meal marked as a Picky Eater Fav—like our delightfully crispy oven-baked Chicken Bites.
  • Try one new thing at a time. By alternating new and accepted foods, you can slowly expose your toddler to different flavors, textures, colors and ingredients without overwhelming them.
  • Order multiples. Research shows that it may take 6–15 times for a child to accept a new food, so you should count on offering the same meals at least a few times. (Nurture Life meals can be safely frozen, so don’t worry about getting too many! Just stick extras in the freezer until it’s time to try it again.)

Sample Order: Toddler Meal Ideas for the Week

Here’s what a typical toddler meal delivery order might look like. 

healthy toddler meals
In this way, each order will build upon the last to create a natural progression of new flavors, textures and food groups for your little one to discover.As you can see, this sample order includes several repeated meals that focus on chicken, a classic kid favorite. As this toddler becomes more accustomed to Nurture Life, the parent can start slowly branching out with their orders. Next week’s box might include the same protein in a new flavor profile (maybe our delectable
Chicken Biryani?) or maybe a totally new protein altogether (like Lentil Meatballs with Ratatouille or Teriyaki Salmon with Rainbow Veggie Rice.) 

When Your Nurture Life Box Arrives

Toddlers are natural explorers, and Nurture Life’s meals are designed to capture their curiosity from first sight. Our meal packaging features whimsical sweet potato cows, cauliflower trees and chicken breast boats—giving your little one an imaginative look into what they’ll soon be feasting on.

When your toddler meal delivery box arrives, grab your little one for a playful unboxing! Let your toddler look at the meal package and hold it in their hands as you point out and name each illustration. Silly noises and imaginative stories are always welcome.

Your toddler may not be able to read what’s on the box, but you can still get them thinking about the delicious goodness to come. Use this printable plate template and have them draw the ingredients of each meal. Then place their handmade plates on the fridge to remind them which meals are upcoming. (You could even let your toddler be a “big kid” and choose their own meal by pointing to the menu!)

Be sure to store your Toddler Meals in the fridge once you’re done with the big reveal—our meals are fresh, and need to be refrigerated because we don’t add artificial preservatives to our food.

During Mealtime

Whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner, here are some tips for serving Nurture Life’s healthy meals for toddlers:

  1. Make your kid comfortable. High chair or table, make sure your child is seated in a comfortable and familiar environment without distractions. If they have a favorite plate or utensil, bring it out!
  2. Let them explore the food. Put the meal on the high chair tray or plate and allow your child to experience each different food on their own: playing, smashing, feeling, smelling and tasting!
  3. Cut into pieces if necessary. Some toddlers still rely on their fingers, while others are whizzes with utensils—and both are totally normal! If your child is still learning to handle a fork or spoon, you may need to lend a hand by cutting larger items, like Turkey Meatloaf, into more manageable pieces. Start with larger chunks if your little one needs some extra practice with the pincer grasp or utensil. If your child seems to have difficulty stabbing their food, consider offering them a pre-loaded fork to prevent frustration at mealtime. 
  4. Pay attention to your child’s reactions. Your toddler may or may not have a great first reaction to the meal, but that’s okay. Make a mental note of any reaction, good or bad, and continue offering and re-offering (and re-offering…) until your child becomes comfortable enough to accept the food. Keep in mind that this is a big transition, and it will likely take time. You’re doing it right!
  5. Don’t worry about a clean plate. Nurture Life’s Toddler Meals are perfectly portioned for kids in this age range, but that doesn’t mean that your child should necessarily eat the entire meal every time. Toddlers are very good at regulating their food intake and stopping when they’re full, so there’s no need to push for a clean plate.

Overwhelmed Toddler? Totally Normal!

Just because your toddler seems excited to eat “grown up” food doesn’t mean that mealtime will always go smoothly. (Is anything perfectly smooth in toddlerhood?) Here are a few additional tips if your little one seems a bit overwhelmed by table food:

  • Give cues. Show your child that you love the food by taking a bite yourself—they’ll take cues from you! There’s no need to make a huge show of it; simply take a bite, smile, note how delicious it is and then let your little one react. To encourage a positive relationship with food, try to avoid pressuring your child or offering excessive praise (or any other reward) for eating.
  • Use a divided plate. New food might seem less overwhelming when it’s served on a plate with dividers. We recommend starting with this technique but then transitioning away as your toddler adapts—you don’t want them thinking that they can only eat foods that aren’t touching.
  • Take it slow. Remember that it can take up to 15 times for a child to accept a new food. Especially if your toddler is accustomed to Stage 3 pouches and purees (which tend to be quite sweet), savory flavors and chewier textures may take some extra time. If your little one just won’t eat the greens or won’t touch the meatballs, try a couple more times and then take a few days off. Slow and steady is the best approach!

For more picky eater strategies, check out these three tips on overcoming picky eating.

After the Meal

Once your little one has eaten their fill, give us your feedback on the meal! You can rate each Toddler Meal from 1–5 stars and include additional notes for future reference when you place your next Nurture Life order. In your next box, consider adding a few of your child’s favorite meals from this week along with new meals to try, as we mentioned in the example order above.

Don’t throw away the meal packages, either! You can make our healthy toddler meals work even harder by repurposing the adorable boxes into drawings, garlands, puppets and more. Crafting is a great way to get your toddler even more involved in mealtime, building familiarity with wholesome ingredients even when it’s nowhere near lunch or dinner time.

Need more toddler meal ideas or picky eating strategies? Reach out to our child nutrition experts at any time by emailing support@nurturelife.com.

healthy kids meals

img43@2x

Lara Field

Lara has been working with Nurture Life since its inception, collaborating with the culinary team on the creation of all menus and recipes to ensure they are nutritionally appropriate and correctly proportioned for every age and stage of a child’s development and providing pediatric nutrition expertise to Nurture Life customers. Lara is the owner/founder of FEED—Forming Early Eating Decisions, a nutrition consulting practice specializing in pediatric nutrition and digestive diseases. Lara has over a decade of experience in clinical practice at two of the top ranked pediatric hospitals in the country, Lurie Children’s Hospital and University of Chicago Medical Center. Lara received her B.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and M.S. and dietetic internship from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. Lara truly enjoys the process of eating (and feeding!), from procuring the ingredients at various grocery stores and farmers markets, to organizing her pantry/refrigerator at home to make it easy to select healthy options, to preparing balanced meals with her children. Whether it be a decadent treat to a hearty, home-cooked meal, there is no greater satisfaction for Lara than enjoying food with her family.

Related Posts

Nutrition Picky Eaters Tips / How-Tos Toddlers

Best Meals for Toddlers

Read more