Creative meals for 15 month-old

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Back to: Advice about Eating

See also: Getting Kids to Eat Veggies

From: Laura (1/99)

Does anyone have some creative meal ideas for feeding a 15 month-old? I need some inspiration for getting some vegetables into my son and some good sources of iron. Any winning recipes/tricks out there? He has some front teeth, but no molars yet, so the food should be soft. He's a picky eater and is making me crazy!

From: Nicole (1/99)

Veggies for 15-month-old: I have to admit that canned soups have become common in my house in recent months! (This is from someone who has always cooked everything from scratch before motherhood arrived!) You can go high-end, like the ones made with organic everything from Whole Foods, or regular super-market style, like Campbell's Hearty Soups, which have nice big chunks of veggies. We've tried many kinds and our most popular are chicken noodle and minestrone style soups. My daughter (now 20 months) seems to like both the saltiness of the canned foods, and the sauciness (easy to grab, sticky, and now that she's graduating to using utensils, the food stays on the spoon more easily). Also, things like Spaghetti-O's (and yes, there is an organic version of this at Whole Foods and I think Andronico's carries it too) help get the tomato into the child along with the gummable soft pasta. Makes for interesting photo opportunities, too! I have also recently discovered that canned soup can be used as a sauce to help rice, couscous, etc., stick together so that the child gets more of the starch into her mouth (and less everywhere else), and some of the veggies end up getting ingested too! Likewise, on the fruit end, I've had success with fresh cantaloupe, seedless Satsuma mandarins (cut the fruit crosswise before peeling so each section is cut into two), grapes cut in half, dried fruits cut into manageable pieces and yes, canned fruit salad (again, there is quite a variety from cheap to super-natural-bla-bla-bla). If you really can't get anything fresh into your baby, there are baby versions of natural Vit C and multi-vitamins in liquid form. Good luck, and use a dropcloth!

From: Bonnie (1/99)

When my children were that age, I used a 'baby food grinder.' With this simple plastic device I ground up my own cooking to serve them. I could mix meat and vegies in one serving if I wanted to, or apples and pears. I carried the food grinder in the diaper bag and used it at restaurants as well as at home. It came in handy! I also think it helped the children to grow up with a fondness for mother's cooking and with no problems when eating out. Unlike some of my friends, I did not get into the routine of preparing one meal for the youngsters and another one for the adults, and I never needed to buy prepared baby food. I'm not sure where the baby stores are now, but the larger ones used to sell it. And the catalogs still do, for instance, the Natural Baby catalog. I don't have that catalog with me at the moment, but send me e-mail and I'll find their phone number for you. The grinder used to come in two sizes; I think the larger one is best.

From: Raissa (1/99)

My favorite trick for a pasta lover is to mix cooked pureed carrots into tomato sauce and to mix steamed pureed spinach into pesto sauce. I also put finely chopped broccoli under a heavy layer of cheese ona a pizza, and got my fussy 2 year old son to eat small broccoli florets by melting cheese on top of them and calling them cheese trees (he's always been enchanted by rhymes).

From: Eleanor (1/99)

To interest a toddler in vegetables, try serving frozen vegetables still frozen. Many are still very easily chewable while frozen; peas were my kid's favorite, but you would want to test them out based on your child's ability to chew and swallow.

Veggies for a Picky Eater-- summary Thanks to all of you who sent me some great and practical ideas. I have summarized your responses below and made the messages anonymous. I am still interested in getting ideas if there are other people out there who are inspired to send me their tricks for feeding their babies/children (especially veggies).

Try this: 1lb. ground turkey (seasoned lightly) fold in 1 or 2 package(s) chopped frozen spinach fold in 1 cup cooked white rice Mix together well. This makes enough so that you can feed him several meals over a period of days. My kid loves it! Good luck.

Both my little guys love baby carrots softened in the microwave for a minute or so (then I cool them off in cold water - the carrots, not the kids). Another rather weird favorite - frozen mixed vegetables in a paper cup - still frozen! Go figure. I think it has something to do with teething.

I don't know about being creative, but I went through the same dilemma with my picky daughter about the same age. She currently has only 7 teeth at 20 months, so the dishes might work for you too. I researched what daycares are serving and bought a book called 265 foods children love to eat . This is what works with my daughter: 1. couscous with mushrooms (at Trader Joe's for $1.49 or so, makes 4 meals for her) 2. pasta with red sauce or white sauce (Ragu, Five Brothers, or Trader Joe's organic tomato basil pesto for $1.99) 3. smallest size fishsticks with potato wedges, good amount of ketchup, and peas 4. tofu dog cuts or plain tofu cubes (Trader Joe), baked beans, and corn 5. rice spiced up and smothered with vegetable soup (she accepts the soups from Trader Joe and Lucky, just cut the vegies a bit smaller) On weekends we try stuff like quesedillas (sharp cheddar, pinto beans, mild salsa, sour cream, guacamole) or baked potato with the same condiments. Other things she loves to eat are non-toasted toast pieces or crackers (Ritz - whole wheat) that she dips in various dips. She loves California olive slices (but hates the Greek) and kosher pickle slices to suck and chew on (Trader Joe). For breakfast she switches between toasted toast cubes with cottage cheese and jam, oatmeal, granola fruit bar, cheerios with or without soyamilk, and vanilla yoghurt (which she likes best of all flavors).

Hi Laura, Yes, I used to feel very superior listening to other moms and their food dilemmas, but now that I am one, I know what they mean! Luckily, my daughter is not a picky eater, but it's just finding the time to get the food on the table before she runs out of patience. I hope the gnocchi go over well, my daughter loves them! Also big raviolis (fresh or frozen -- Country Cheese on San Pablo has really good cheap frozen ones, stuffed with vegetables, yet another way to sneak in the veggies!), and believe it or not, she loves pesto! My little one has also started to help me cook, which mostly means rearranging all of the silverware drawer and spice shelves. One way I've found to deal with her wanting to be with me while I cook is to put her in the backpack -- she's with me, she can see what I'm doing, but she's safe and both of my hands are free! Someone tipped me to that strategy and when I've mentioned it, many other parents have said, oh yeah, I do that too!

Annika did the same thing in terms of liking and rejecting until we discovered these sure dishes. What we've learned re better eating is: 1. Don't offer a dish more than once per week or it will be rejected (won't remain special) 2. Serve only small amounts and then give more helpings throughout the meal. For some reason a full plate totally turns her off even if it is her favorite meal and of it is exactly the portion she will end up eating anyhow.

I saw your note on the UCB parent site and thought I'd give a quick response cause I've had alot of trouble with a picky eater myself. My 21mo. son seems to like tomato based foods so I make alot of vegetarian spaghetti with crushed tofu and spinach. We aren't vegetarians but he doesn't seem to like meat except for bacon. Once when I was despret I got one of those organic Amys frozen lasagnes and he loved that but they are very expensive. Its really hard with a picky eater but I just tell myself that I've seen kids who didn't eat a vegy for months and were still healthy as horses, theres my two cents worth.

I thought of a book I used years ago when my daughter was young. It's called Feed Me I'm Yours! by Vicky Lasky. Have you heard of it?

My favorite trick for a pasta lover is to mix cooked pureed carrots into tomato sauce and to mix steamed pureed spinach into pesto sauce. I also put finely chopped broccoli under a heavy layer of cheese ona a pizza, and got my fussy 2 year old son to eat small broccoli florets by melting cheese on top of them and calling them cheese trees (he's always been enchanted by rhymes).