Toddler Dinners: Don’t Sweat Every Meal

At Ollie’s 15 month appointment, the pediatrician was asking her standard developmental questions of him and instead of asking how he did eating she asked “does he have 1 good meal a day?”. I chuckled. She is a mom of 2 now too. She knows asking how a toddler is eating is opening yourself up to either the parents worried the kid is clearly failing childhood or just emotionally vomit over them with frustrations at meal time. I have been writing about kid food and listening to many mom’s tale of crazy weird toddler behavior around food for years now. I know they are all different and ultimately, they are all just fine kids. So I laughed a bit at her question. I had never thought of it that way but she is right. Most kids have one “decent” meal a day.

The one meal they actually seem to get nourishment. It might not be the organic butternut squash and kale you dreamed of but it is protein or carbs or veggies or fruit. They seem to eat enough to qualify as a meal  (remember toddler serving sizes are tiny). They get their calories here and there. Sometimes it isn’t worth the fight that you won’t win. I just pick my guns I stick to (no sweets unless you eat all your food and no just snacking all day on pretzels or whatever). Your guns may be different but it’s how I choose to process it.

On round 2 here, I know not to think of it too much. Some nights he eats his fruit and pushes everything else around on the plate. Some nights he will shovel in 3 servings of pasta and reach for my collard greens (kid LOVED them. The hell?). He is the king of OMG MOM I LOOOOVE STRAWBERRIES. NOM NOM NOM. and then 3 days later throw them at you like “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS, MOTHER”. But ya know what? I really don’t care. I have found having to juggle 2 kids that I just roll with it and the line “one good meal a day” sticks with me. Like yesterday, I picked Ollie up from school and she was like “oh he had a great lunch” so I didn’t put much stock into dinner. He stabbed at his pasta and ate some pears and his carrot sticks. Whatever. He was done. I wasn’t going to spend 20 minutes that I don’t have to watch him get angry and smear cheese on his face for me to clean later once I REALLY pissed him off. He then had to deal with the harsh reality of “no special treat” and watch his brother eat M&Ms in front of him. Street Justice, right there folks. This morning? He inhaled a cereal bar and blueberries. He can show off for his teachers all he wants, I am not going to let him dictate my evening mood over the fact that he had 4 servings of steak for lunch. Is what it is.

So that’s my advice. STOP WORRYING. STOP LOOKING AT PINTEREST AND THINKING YOU ARE A BAD MOM. HELL, STOP LOOKING AT MY TODDLER DINNERS. There is no standard on how to feed your kids and the people telling you that are full of shit. Every kid is different. I post these posts to help if you need ideas but don’t let it get you down if your kid hates it. Move on. When he is already in a shitty mood? Serve PB&Js and save yourself the headache. You can try tomorrow. There are far more important things to worry about…like the wine you are having after they go to bed.

Don't Sweat Every Meal #toddlerdinners


P.S. I would like to add that if you truly feel your kid is not eating enough and constantly hungry but won’t eat, please see a physician. There can be many things at play including food sensitivities. Let mommy intuition push you to seek help if you really feel like something is wrong.



  1. This is one area of parenting where I am completely the same way! I don’t stress over this stuff. You totally nailed it what you said after a long day, it just isn’t worth it. Great post!

  2. One of the things I love most about my day care is that they provide great meals for the kids (breakfast, lunch and 2 afternoon snacks). If their report says they ate pretty well all day, I don’t worry at night and I agree it is one less thing to stress about. Sometimes all the 3 year old eats is apple sauce and the little one just some baby puffs. Whatever, I can’t make every dinner a battle. Completely agree with one good meal.

  3. TRUTH! Even for a kid who has known medical issues (key here is “known” – go with your gut and explore if that’s your feeling), stop stressing. It won’t make them eat more. Volume and variety used to absolutely dictate my life. I finally learned to let go and just accept what he was willing to eat. Stressful mealtimes are not good for anyone.

  4. YES! Great mantra!

    I love reading your blog, so refreshing for me as a new mom. Totally reinforces my acceptance that it is OK to be a mom who is laid back and not crazy about making everything perfect. and pinning. Who needs it? Happy, health kids is all we need, right?! Plus that wine at the end of the night… of course! =)

  5. I took this mantra from you, I believe you have mentioned it before. Some days they eat like champs, some days “eh, not so much”. And my guys aren’t quite toddlers yet. Thanks for sharing this post. IT helps to know other moms feel the same way!

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  7. I love this post. Because I do spend a lot of time thinking about what to give my 15 month old, and worrying (and feel guilty) that I don’t feed her well / give her too much processed foods / give her too much sweet stuff. And I found your post because I was googling toddler meals and searching pinterest! I guess we’re all trying to do our best.

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