Toddlers are notorious for being picky when it comes to food. Your little one's favorite food one week might be what you're cleaning up all over the floor next week. Toddlers between ages 1 and 2 should consume about 1,200 calories per day from meals, snacking and beverages. Try rotating nutritious lunch options for your 14-month-old to give him a variety of flavors without spending hours preparing it.
Sandwiches are very versatile and can be made out of nearly anything. Use whole-wheat bread to make sandwiches out of tuna fish with a small amount of mayonnaise, grilled cheese with cheddar or American cheese, egg salad or lunch meats such as turkey. Peanut butter is a healthy source of protein and can be mixed with bananas or jelly. Cut sandwiches into small toddler-sized pieces or use cookie cutters to make shapes for a fun twist on mealtime.
Soup is an ideal lunch during the colder months. Use canned soup mixed with water or milk if you are pressed on time, or make it from scratch for dinner one night and offer the leftovers for lunch. Soups offer plenty of opportunities to slip in other healthy foods, such as vegetables, that toddlers might not eat on their own.
Pasta is another lunch option with endless possibilities. Cook some whole-wheat pasta and add tomato or cheese sauce. Mix plain pasta with butter and add in a vegetable such as zucchini to add more flavor and nutrients. Even a simple lunch of macaroni and cheese can be made more nutritious by adding in peas, broccoli or carrots.
Mini pizzas are simple to make and offer endless options for variety. Toast a bagel, English muffin or tortilla and add toppings such as pizza sauce, cheese and meat or vegetables. Try new combinations of foods each time to discover which ones your toddler prefers.
Pinwheels are the perfect size for toddler hands. Lay a piece of meat on a plate and top with cheese. Roll it up and slice into small "pinwheel" sections. You can also add a tortilla for a more filling lunch or mix in vegetables such as spinach for more variety.
Serve a variety of snacks for lunch on days you are strapped for time or don't think your toddler will eat too much. Cheese cubes, fruit with yogurt as a dip, olives, cucumber slices, crackers and meat such as turkey or chicken cut into chunks. Your little one can eat everything with his hands and will love the variety of options to choose from.
Fruit is an excellent addition to your toddler's lunch. Cut up slices of apples, a banana, oranges, melons and strawberries and keep them in a covered container in the fridge for easy access when snacking or as an add-on for lunch. Cut all fruit into small slices or bite-sized pieces to prevent choking. This is especially important for grapes, which are a top choking hazard for kids.
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