Send your toddler off to daycare or preschool with a special toddler-style lunchbox. When you pack the lunch box with healthy foods, your active toddler will have enough energy to sustain him throughout his busy day. Keep things simple and interesting by packing your toddler's lunch box with foods in a variety of colors, shapes and textures.
Choose a Lunch Box
Pack lunch in a sturdy but lightweight container that closes securely and is easy for little fingers to open. Look for a box or bag that is stain-proof and machine washable or easy to clean by wiping with a damp cloth. Some lunch boxes have a pouch for a small water bottle or a juice box, or pockets to hold small snacks. Other fun optional features include a reflective strip or a place for a name tag. For toddlers, keep things simple and avoid bags with too many pockets and pouches.
Sandwiches are often the primary focus of toddler lunch boxes, but they never have to be dull. Move beyond the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on plain bread to entice your toddler to eat every bite. Cut sandwiches into toddler-sized halves or quarters. Make whimsically shaped sandwiches by cutting the centers with a cookie cutter. Spread PB and J on a hot dog bun for something different. Try cream cheese and a bit of jam on an English muffin or a bagel. Stuff tuna salad into a pita bread pocket or roll sliced turkey and cheese in a tortilla spread with light ranch dressing to deliver a nutritious main dish. Move away from breads altogether by giving your toddler a small plastic container filled with finger-food size pasta pieces.
Fruits and Vegetables
Give your toddler a bit of freedom by allowing him to choose his own fruits and vegetables for his lunch box at the store. When packing up the lunch box, give him ready-to-eat finger foods such as orange slices, grapes, cherry tomatoes or carrot sticks in small plastic bags. A squeeze of lemon juice keeps apple slices looking appetizing and prevents them from turning brown. If your toddler has good manual dexterity, send a small banana. Avoid berries or other foods that stain or are easily mashed.
Snacks and Desserts
Provide snacks and desserts that your toddler enjoys, with only small amounts of sugary treats. Pretzel sticks or small granola bars are fun for toddlers to eat. Fill a small container with a trail mix made of dried fruit, sunflower seeds, peanuts and raisins, along with a few small chocolate candies or gummy worms to keep his interest. Although they are a sweet treat, cookies with peanut butter, oatmeal, fruit or raisins provide some basic nutrition. A bag filled with crackers or dry cereal will add a crunchy texture to his lunch.