When it comes to celebrating your child's birthday, it might be tempting to serve the most delectable, decadent treat available. But for a growing child who needs lots of nutrients, it might be wise to rethink classic birthday treats. Find out how to create a festive, healthful, and delicious birthday menu with these tips.

Better-for-you Cake Ideas

Here are some swap-out ingredients and suggestions that are better for you and your little one. Keep these in mind if you're creating your own cake for the party.

Ingredient Swaps

  • 1/3 all-purpose flour can be replaced by whole wheat flour

  • Apple butter can replace about 1/3 of regular butter

  • Instead of 3 whole eggs, use 2 whole eggs and one egg white

  • Reduced fat cream cheese can be used instead of full-fat cream cheese

  • Light sour cream can be used in place of regular sour cream

Full Cake Replacements

  • Oatmeal cake

  • Banana bread

  • Vegetable breads (carrot, pumpkin, and zucchini)

  • Cakes including beets, potatoes, or sweet potatoes

Dips Abound

Dips and sauces are fun for toddlers. Be prepared for a little mess — it's worth it when your child is eating well.

Sweet Dips

  • Applesauce

  • Sour cream flavored with all-fruit spread or pureed fruits

  • Mashed bananas with or without berries and ricotta 

Savory Dips

  • Cream cheese lightened with milk 

  • Guacamole

  • Small curd cottage cheese 

  • Hummus

  • Creamy salad dressings 

  • Cooked and pureed vegetables

Healthy Foods to Dip

  • Cheese 

  • Fruit

  • Cooked vegetables (carrots, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower)

  • Cucumbers

  • Graham crackers 

  • Whole-grain breads

  • Small chunks or rolled-up slices of chicken or turkey 

Shake It Up

Smoothies have moved beyond just fruit — many now include vegetables too. These nutrient-packed drinks are a great way to add veggies to a delicious treat. If your little one loves smoothies, add some of these ingredients for a nutrient boost:

  • Avocado 

  • Cooked carrots

  • Kale

  • Parsley

  • Cucumber

If your toddler is using a sippy cup, smoothies can be thinned out with milk or water. (If the smoothie is very thick it can be served in a bowl with a spoon.)

Food "Face Time"

Make a face with food, using food as "paint" and the plate as your canvas. Make the face as basic or elaborate as you want — but just eyes and a mouth can speak volumes. You can even dress it up with noodle hair, veggie earrings, or an oatmeal mustache!