Toddler Breakfast Ideas

Whether you’re dealing with a picky eater, a mini foodie, or someone in between, you'll appreciate these easy and healthy breakfast ideas for toddlers. Most of these menu items are very quick to put together on busy mornings when you’re on the go and rushing to get your toddler ready for day care or preschool. Other ideas can be made ahead of time or are best prepared on a weekend morning when the entire family can sit down to breakfast together.

23 Breakfast Ideas for Toddlers

Egg Breakfast Ideas for Toddlers

Quick On-the-Go Breakfast Ideas for Toddlers

blueberry yogurt smiling
funny bowls oat porridge cat dog

Make-Ahead Breakfast Ideas for Toddlers

fun food kids cute smiling faces
homemade sweet red berry squares streusel

Creating a Well-Balanced Diet

Your toddler's healthy growth and energy levels are fueled by a varied diet that includes foods from the five basic food groups:

  • Protein foods, such as meats, poultry, fish, beans, and eggs

  • Dairy, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt

  • Fruits, with fresh, frozen, and canned varieties all OK

  • Vegetables, including dark green, red, and orange varieties

  • Grains, such as cereals, bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice.

It’s OK if your toddler doesn’t eat something from each food group at every single breakfast. What's important is that your little one gets a range of wholesome foods at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, which will balance out and meet his nutritional needs over several days.

How Much Food Is Enough for a Toddler?

Your toddler's appetite is likely to change after she turns 1 year old. You’ll notice she may not need as much food as she did before. This is because her growth rate and metabolism are changing. Your toddler needs about 1,000 calories per day, but you don’t need to count calories. Serving three nutritious meals and three healthy snacks a day is a good rule of thumb. Keep in mind that portion sizes for a toddler tend to smaller than those of an older child or adult. A typical toddler breakfast could be one egg or a half cup of breakfast cereal, plus a 1/3 cup of fruit and a half cup of milk. You may find that your toddler’s hunger levels vary from one day to the next based on things like activity levels. As long as he’s growing steadily and gaining weight, there’s no reason to worry. Your child’s progress will be checked at the well-child visits, where your toddler’s provider will check her growth against growth charts. If your child is under- or overweight, your healthcare provider can give you advice and personalized guidance on how to get your child's growth back on track. Of course, you don’t have to wait for your child’s next checkup to bring up questions or concerns. If you’re ever concerned about your toddler’s growth or eating habits, be in touch with his healthcare provider.

A Note on Picky Eaters

As they become more independent, toddlers sometimes go through a phase of picky eating, which can make mealtime feel like a battleground. Your child might refuse to eat anything at all, or decide to eat only a certain type of food. A favorite food one week could be rejected the following week. This behavior is normal during the toddler and preschooler years but eventually goes away. The best strategy is to offer your toddler a variety of healthy, tasty foods, and let her choose what to eat. Keep serving foods even if they've been rejected more than once, giving her the chance to try new foods willingly instead of it being forced upon her.

Why It’s Important to Avoid Food Bribes

It’s best to avoid bribing your child with food or during mealtime, like promising dessert if he eats his peas. It's also unwise to make comparisons to other siblings, such as by saying, “See, your big sister eats her veggies!” This added pressure can lead to eating problems in the future. Instead, keep mealtimes pleasant and relaxed, a chance for your child to learn good eating habits and to be sociable with the rest of the family.

Toddler Food Watchouts

Although your toddler will likely be eating most of the same foods as the rest of the family, there are a few precautions to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure the food is not too hot and doesn’t burn his mouth. Taste a little to test the temperature before letting him eat.

  2. Avoid foods that have a lot of spices, butter, salt, or sugar. Your toddler’s palate may still be too sensitive to these very strong flavors, and too much added salt and sugar may affect your little one’s long-term health.

  3. Your toddler doesn’t learn to chew with a grinding motion until she's about

  4. This means you should avoid giving her food that may become a choking hazard. Here are some general tips on how to do this:

    • Mash or cut foods into small, easy-to-chew pieces

    • Spherical items like grapes and cherry tomatoes should be cut into halves or quarters

    • Cylindrical items like hot dogs and carrots need to be quartered lengthwise and then cut into pieces

    • Spread a thin layer of peanut butter onto bread or crackers — don’t offer a chunk or spoonful of it

    • Avoid whole nuts, seeds, popcorn, hard candies, jelly beans, and gummy bears — all of these can be easy to choke on if swallowed whole or in large chunks.

Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities

Around the time your toddler is trying new foods for the first time, it’s important to keep an eye out for any allergic reaction that he may have to certain foods. If your toddler has a food allergy, it would most likely be due to a food item on this list:

  • Cow’s milk

  • Eggs

  • Wheat

  • Soy

  • Peanuts

  • Tree nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, and cashews

  • Fish, such as tuna, salmon, or cod

  • Shellfish, such as shrimp, lobster, or clams

If your toddler is allergic, you may see the follow allergic reactions:

  • Skin problems such as skin rashes or swelling

  • Breathing problems such as sneezing, wheezing, or tightness in the throat

  • Stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

  • Circulation symptoms such as pale skin, light-headedness, or loss of consciousness.

If your toddler loses consciousness or experiences multiple symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Sometimes your child may not be allergic to a type of food but may instead have an intolerance or sensitivity:

  • Lactose intolerance. Your toddler can’t digest dairy products properly and may complain of a stomach ache, look bloated, and/or have diarrhea.

  • Food sensitivity. Your toddler could be sensitive to food dyes, additives, or preservatives in store-bought foods and may show signs of asthma.

The good news is that egg, milk, wheat, and soy allergies are usually outgrown. Most children outgrow any food allergies by the time they turn 5 years old. Peanut, tree nut, and seafood allergies may take longer. Speak with your healthcare provider if you think your child may have a food allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity. The provider can perform tests to make a diagnosis, as well as advise you on how you can modify your child’s diet and what to do if you notice the signs of an allergic reaction.

The Bottom Line

If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, then breakfast can be a great opportunity to come up with creative menu ideas for your toddler. And, if you don’t like cooking that much and would rather fix something simple, then breakfast is one of those meals where you definitely have lots of great options. Think about making some breakfast meals ahead of time, such as by preparing big batches that you can freeze for later and portion out as needed. This is a nice way to make mornings less frantic. To ensure your toddler’s nutritional needs are met and to keep things interesting, aim for a mix of different breakfast foods on different mornings, such as eggy dishes, oatmeal with various toppings, healthy smoothies, and whole grain toast topped with cheese or peanut butter. The weekends are great for something fun like blueberry pancakes or banana muffins. Plus, you could even ask your toddler to help with mixing the batter or putting toppings on a bowl of yogurt. With the breakfast ideas on our list, you’re good to go. You and your toddler can have a yummy start to the day!