Whenever I babysit my nieces, I like to make dinner a fun event so I have the girls help me cook and help me plan the meal. However, I know that no matter what we do end up cooking, it will always be the plainer version of the meal I had intended. If we make spaghetti, it will have fewer spices and herbs. If we make pizza, it will always be cheese and maybe one other topping.

I don’t do this because I think that making the food will be too hard for them. I do it because they won’t eat the food if it has too much flavor and texture.

Plain Food and Toddlers
Many toddlers are picky eaters, but more often toddlers just aren’t used to too much flavor and texture. They may eat anything you put in front of them, just as long as it’s not overwhelming or too “weird”. By weird, I mean that the food combines too many different elements. As adults, we may enjoy spaghetti that has a variety of veggies, herbs, and meat, but these things can make a dish unappealing to toddlers. It’s not just a vegetable issue either. Your toddler may enjoy a side dish of steam veggies in addition to basic pasta with canned tomato sauce.

It will take time for your toddler to grow accustomed to eating more complex foods. For now, it’s best to stick to simple meals for them. That doesn’t mean you have to completely customize their meals though. One of my sisters hated complex foods when we were little, so my parents always kept a smaller pan of plain sauce when we had spaghetti and they knew to keep her food separated on her plate so she could eat each separate item one at a time.

What Foods Do Toddlers Like?
Plain food is really simple to make, and it’s often a lot more healthy. If you have extra chicken, veggies, and pasta lying around, you might think that they would go together well in a casserole. However, toddlers are notorious for hating casseroles because they combine too much food. What you need to do is simply separate the food for your child before you put it into a casserole.

Steam or bake your veggies and bake the chicken like normal, but set aside a portion for your toddler along with a portion of the pasta before you mix everything together. Make up a simple sauce for the pasta and you’re done. The rest of the family gets to enjoy a casserole, and your toddler gets a plainer meal. Some other favorite toddler foods include:
•    Chicken nuggets (which can be baked to keep them healthy)
•    PB&Js (with whole wheat bread)
•    Mac and cheese
•    Grilled cheese sandwiches
•    Soup (chicken noodle and other simple recipes)
Brown, Jessica.  "Top 10 Kids\u0027 Meals"  20 July 2009.  HowStuffWorks.com.