2019 Holiday Gift Guide for the Young Toddler

This roundup of THE BEST holiday gifts for the young toddler is perfect for little ones ages 1 to 2. There are many classics but some great new ideas as well. I’ll be updating the list with any Black Friday deals so be sure to bookmark it and check back!

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2019 Holiday Gift Guide for the Young Toddler
This post contains affiliate links. As always, I only share products that I truly love!

(Clockwise from top left.)

Baby Stella was our babe’s first doll and she still loves her to death to this day. She is super-soft and her clothes and pacifier are all removable. Great for little ones who are just getting into imaginative play!

Raia got this teepee for Christmas last year (when she was just over a year old) and continues to love it. If you have the space, it’s so fun for the little ones to have a spot of their own to curl up and play or look at books. Plus, I love the muted colors of this particular one.

Ahhhh, the musical tea set. As much as I hate toys that make a bunch of noise, I can’t ignore how much Raia loves this. Another great toy to ease the little ones into more imaginative play.

We have the Honey Sticks bath crayons and I’m dying to get my hands on some of their regular crayons! I love that they are all-natural and non-toxic. They’re also a great idea for a stocking stuffer!

Raia got a glockenspiel (which is very much like a xylophone in case you’re as unaware as I was) in her music class this year – and she LOVES playing it – but this Papa Bear one is so much cuter!

There are a ton of great books out there for our little ones, but I’m especially fond of books that pack a powerful message. This one has been a favorite of ours for a while now. It’s never too early to start instilling a healthy sense of self in our babes!

If, like me, you’re a fan of toys that actually help our little ones LEARN (and that look stylish to boot), then you’re going to love these sensory blocks.

Finally, the Cozy Coupe. Raia got one for her first birthday and it continues to be the most in-demand toy whenever we have parties with tons of kids over. If you have the space (indoor or outdoor), you’ll set yourself up for hours of entertainment with this one.

While you’re at it, be sure to check out these other helpful gift guides!

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Older Toddlers

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for the Moms In Your Life

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Foodies

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for the Older Toddler

This roundup of THE BEST holiday gifts for the older toddler is perfect for little ones ages 2 to 4. There are many classics but some great new ideas as well. I’ll be updating the list with any Black Friday deals so be sure to bookmark it and check back!

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for the Older Toddler.
This post contains affiliate links. As always, I only share products that I truly love!

(Clockwise from top left.)

Our little one got her first Play-Doh set for her birthday in October and she is OBSESSED. She also happens to be obsessed with her toy ice cream set, so I’m thinking Santa might need to put this Play-Doh ice cream set under the tree for her this year!

We’re deciding between a scooter or a balance bike (see below) for Raia this Christmas, but this Radio Flyer scooter looks perfect for little ones who are just learning how to keep their balance.

Are any other mamas toddler daughter’s super into watching them put on their makeup? I know mine is and she’s often asking to “pretend” with my brushes. This wooden makeup set is so cute – and I may just be able to start getting through my makeup routine without interruption!

At the moment, my little one is really into helping us clean, so I’m going to milk it for all I can! This Dyson vacuum is sooo cute for kiddos and has real suction and sound, so I’m seriously thinking about adding it to this year’s Christmas haul.

Raia also got a doctor kit for her birthday and I had no idea she’d be so into it! She now walks around the house with her glasses and stethoscope on and calls herself “Dr. Roo.” While she has a different set, I couldn’t resist adding this super cute wooden doctor kit to this list.

I don’t know about you, but there have been so many times in the past few months I KNOW Raia would love to do some painting, but I can’t bring myself to deal with the mess. I may just havae to give in after buying some of this Veggie Baby Finger Paint that’s both baby- and eco-friendly!

This Little Tikes adjustable basketball hoop is the perfect gift or older toddlers. It helps with hand-eye coordination and also gets them outside and active.

Lastly, as I mentioned above, we’re waffling between a balance bike and scooter for our babe this Christmas. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

And be sure to check out these other gift guides I’ve put together just for you!

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for the Moms In Your Life

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Younger Toddlers

2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Foodies

How to Do a Food Segue With Your Toddler

A “food segue” is a great way to get your picky toddler used to foods and flavors that he or she won’t normally eat. Here’s your step-by-step guide for how to do it!

Toddler eating celery on a kitchen counter, title image.

I hear it all the time from all you mamas out there, “I wish I could get my toddler to eat [fill in the blank]!” One- to three-year-olds are notoriously picky eaters, and getting them to eat certain foods can be a never-ending battle. After all, this is the age when they start to realize (and assert) their own independence, and testing the limits is a huge part of that. Luckily, there are certain things you can do to minimize the struggle and, yes, get your toddler to eat foods that he or she has turned his or her nose up at in the past.

If you’re curious about some of the other tips I’ve shared in regards to feeding toddlers, be sure to check out my past posts on the best ways to introduce NEW foods and things NOT to say, but today I’m going to tell you about one super-effective method for working those historically unfavored foods into your little one’s diet, and that’s with a food segue! Using this method, you’ll start with a food your toddler already really enjoys, and work just a little bit of whatever new food you want to get your toddler used to into it. Then, you’ll slowly increase the amount of the new food – using a couple of different meal preparations – until eventually your toddler is eating the new food on its own without batting an eye.

Don’t worry, I’m going to get to a couple of examples in just a minute, but before that, there are a few things you’ll want to remember.

Things to Remember with Food Segueing

It’s a slow process.

It’s not all going to happen overnight. It may take days, weeks, or months to get your toddler to eat the new food. The idea is to slowly work it in, and only move onto the next step once you’ve succeeded with whatever step you’re on.

You’re going to need to be creative.

Toddlers love novelty, so the more creative you get with your segue, the more successful you’ll be. You’ll need to put on your thinking cap to serve the new food in dishes that are not only already well-liked, but also lend themselves well to whatever the new food is. More on this in the examples, but if you’re ever stuck with how to segue something, feel free to drop me a line!

Consider any other factors at play – and don’t get frustrated!

When working on a food segue, it’s important to remember that other factors can play a part in your toddler’s eating success. If you’re introducing a food segue dish, it’s helpful to also observe things like how tired your toddler is, if they’re teething, perhaps not feeling well or having a bad day. If any of these factors are limiting your toddler’s success, try the same segue again another day.

How to Do a Food Segue

Let’s talk about how a food segue is done. I think the easiest way to show you how is with examples, so that’s what I’ve got for you. I’ve got two examples for you (only one example with photos) but I’m going to show them to you side-by-side so you get the idea of how you can segue with two very different foods. Because most mamas express trouble getting their toddlers to eat (1) vegetables or (2) protein, we’re going to talk about segueing into carrots and turkey, respectively.

STEP 1

Okay, so your goal is to get your toddler to eat carrots. First, you’ll want to think of something that he or she already loves that you could mix a small amount of carrots into that your little one will hardly be able to taste. Let’s say an orange-carrot smoothie. If your babe drinks the smoothie down no problem, you’re ready to move on to Step 2. If not, wait a few days and try again.

An overhead shot of two orange-carrot smoothies in Mason jars.
TOP: Orange-Carrot Smoothie, light carrots BOTTOM: Orange-Carrot Smoothie, heavier carrots

For turkey, let’s say your toddler already LOVES pasta with red sauce. A great first step here would be mixing a small amount of ground turkey into the red sauce.

STEP 2

For the next step in the segue, you’re going to want to make the same smoothie, just up the amount of carrots involved. This will impart more of the carrot-y taste on your toddler’s palate, but will be a bit easier on them since they’re already used to (and enjoying) the way you’re serving it. Just as in Step 1, if your little downs this without a problem, move on to Step 2. If not, try again in a few days.

For the turkey, you’ll want to once again serve the pasta with red sauce, but simply increase the amount of ground meat in the sauce.

STEP 3

Time to move onto a new preparation! Hopefully, by now your toddler has gotten a little more used to the taste of carrots. Since we blended carrots into a smoothie for the last two steps, let’s try mixing carrots into something in their more natural form. I know most toddlers love grilled cheese, so let’s make the next preparation a grilled cheese with some shredded carrots mixed into the shredded cheese. This is great because carrots and cheddar cheese are the same color. Also, the cheese and the carrots are prepared in the same way – shredded – which will make them more easily blend together. As always, keep trying this preparation every few days until you see some success. And feel free to mix in some Orange-Carrot Smoothies on the days in between!

With the turkey example, a great next step would be serving pasta with diced tomatoes and ground turkey (rather than the tomato and turkey mixed together in a sauce). This gets your toddler used to seeing the ground turkey on its own while still having all of the same flavors as the first two preparations.

STEP 4

Now that your kiddo is hooked on grilled cheese and carrot sandwiches, the next step would be to take the cheese and carrot combo OUT of the sandwich, and just serve grated carrots covered in melted cheese.

Enough with the ground turkey already, time to move onto sliced turkey breast. BUT we’re still going to keep some similar flavors and – instead of serving the turkey with pasta and red sauce – we’re going to serve it with ketchup to dip it in! Because what kid doesn’t like ketchup? Or dip?!

STEP 5

Okay, time to move on from the cheesy stuff. The next step would be to serve the grated carrots with an alternative dip or topping, like ranch dressing or hummus. Use your judgment as to what your kiddo will like best.

Clockwise from top left: a grilled cheese in the shape of a heart, grated carrots with melted cheese on top, grated carrots with ranch dressing, carrot sticks with ranch dressing.
Clockwise from top left: Clockwise from top left: a grilled cheese in the shape of a heart, grated carrots with melted cheese on top, grated carrots with ranch dressing, carrot sticks with ranch dressing.

As far as the turkey goes, it’s time to see if your toddler is ready for the full segue and serve turkey breast on its own!

(OPTIONAL) STEP 6

Chances are, if you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably already pretty happy with the strides your toddler has taken in learning to like a new food. But if you want to take it even further with the carrots, the next step would be serving them as sticks with the same ranch dressing.

Most food segues won’t take more than five or six steps, but of course, there may be instances where you’ll be fine with fewer or need to add a few more – use your best judgment!

Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget about a food you’ve segued once you’ve gotten your child to eat it. Keep exposing him or her fairly regularly, so he or she doesn’t forget all of these new taste associations.  And keep experimenting! Your child may surprise you with what they’ll eat if you keep exposing him or her to new things.

And if you’d like even more tips on how to deal with a toddler who’s a picky eater, be sure you grab my free download with sooooo many more tips and tricks!

Six different stages of serving carrots in food to introduce new flavors to your toddler.

Top 5 Favorite Foods for 18-Month-Olds

Here’s a list of the top five nutrient-packed foods we make for our 18-month old that she gobbles up in no time!

A rack of cooling Sweet Potato Zucchini Muffins shows one with a bite out of it. Vegetable-packed muffins are a great food for 18-month-olds.

One of the most common questions I get asked by other moms is what I feed my little one. I like to think that’s because they see me as an expert in the matter and not because my daughter is off the charts in height and weight, but you never know 😉

I thought it might be helpful to build a little library here on the blog outlining what some of Raia’s favorite foods have been at different ages. Since we just hit the 18-month mark, I figured I’d start here, but I’ll continue to add links to other ages as I get them published.

Newly added: Here are my recommendations for 12-month-old foods!

A quick note before we get started: As you may know by now, we decided to follow the method of baby-led weaning for introducing solids to our little one. I figure that by this age, most toddlers are all eating the same thing (whether they started with purées or not), but if you’re curious and want to learn more about baby-led weaning, I encourage you to read my post about knowing when to start your baby on solids, and also to read the book Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett [*affiliate link].

Without further ado, here is a list of my current Top 5 Favorite Foods for 18-Month Olds:

#1 SUPER-FOOD PACKED MUFFINS

These have pretty much been a favorite food of Raia’s since we started baby-led weaning, but you just can’t ignore how great they are (both in taste and nutritionally). Some great resources for nutrient dense muffins are Inspiralized Kids, this post of mine on healthy baby snack ideas, and my e-cookbook, 30 Freezer-Friendly Recipes for Babies and Toddlers. I love making a batch of these on a Sunday or Monday and freezing them up to have them on hand for the rest of the week!

#2 SOFT TACOS OR QUESADILLAS

This is an easy meal to serve to kids of all ages that adults love as well. Also, if you go the quesadilla route, it’s easier to sneak in some veggies. For example, you can blend in some puréed pumpkin or butternut squash with cheddar cheese or dice up some mushrooms with taco meat and hide it under a pile of melt-y cheese.

A toddler enjoying a quesadilla. Quesadillas are another great food for 18-month-olds, especially when they have hidden veggies!

#3 NOURISHING SOUPS

Now that Raia is a little better with using utensils, she loves getting into a bowl of soup. It’s fun for her, and an easy way for me to get her lots of nutrient-rich foods. Some of her favorites are this Warming Minestrone Soup (made with minimal salt) and this Super Easy Caramelized Onion and Potato Soup (again, made with minimal salt).

#4 FRIED RICE

Let’s be real: 18-month olds love making a mess of their food and deconstructing it. I choose to just accept it, especially when serving one of our favorite weeknight meals, fried rice! This is another great dish that allows you to get protein, veggies and carbs all in one dish, and it comes together in a snap. Use brown rice for even more nutritional benefits, and use little (if any) soy sauce, as you need to watch the sodium with the little ones. Try cooking the fried rice in coconut oil for some extra flavor and healthy fats!

#5 HEALTHY HOMEMADE GRANOLA BARS

When you find a good recipe, you’ll always want to have these on hand so you don’t have to rely on all of the pre-packaged granola bars at the grocery store – because who knows what goes into those! I created a granola bar recipe that’s soft and crunchy at the same time, and doesn’t have any heavily processed ingredients. You can find this recipe in my e-cookbook as well!

A stack of soft and crunchy granola bars. A favorite food of 18-month-olds!

I hope this list gets you started on some ideas for delicious, nutritious foods you can make for your 18-month old.

Now, it’s your turn! Tell me some of your favorite foods for your 18-month old in the comments below!

Creative Baby and Toddler Lunch Ideas

If you have your baby or toddler in daycare – or even have to prepare food for a babysitter or nanny to serve your little one at home – this list of Creative Baby and Toddler Lunch Ideas is for you!

A toddler having a lunch picnic on the beach. Creative lunch ideas are important for exposing your child to a wide variety of foods!

For many of us, between 6- and 24-months is often the age we begin sending our child to daycare, or having some sort of regular childcare schedule implemented in our own home. This is also THE most important time for our little ones to be introduced to a wide variety of foods, so it’s crucial that we parents are on top of our game when it comes to sending our babes off with a healthy, well-balanced and flavor-diverse lunch.

That being said, I know all too well how easy it is to get stuck in the rut of serving the same thing over and over again. So let’s first talk about some of the roadblocks I know we ALL face…

ROADBLOCK #1: I DON’T HAVE TIME TO GET CREATIVE

Well, you’re in luck! I’m taking the guesswork out of it for you today by providing some interesting, non-repetitive options. It’s not that hard if you’ll just open your mind to it!

Also, meal prep is a godsend for busy parents like you and me. One hour of planning and prepping can set you up for HUGE success the rest of the week. I urge you to take 20 minutes on a Saturday or Sunday and roughly plan out your meals for the week. Be sure to leave some flexibility for eating out once in a while and making good use of leftovers. Then, make a shopping list and head to the store!

I’ve found that since I’ve implemented meal planning into my life over the last six months or so, I’ve saved so much time by knowing exactly what I’ll make each night, taking just one trip to the grocery store each week, and also always having healthy, interesting leftovers on hand.

A basket of fresh produce. Meal planning and prepping is a huge help in making creative lunches your little one will love.

ROADBLOCK #2: MY CHILD ONLY LIKES CERTAIN THINGS

C’mon, mom and dad. Don’t give up that easily! Your child probably only likes certain things because (a) they’ve not been introduced to enough variety early on in life, or (b) you give in to them refusing certain things and offer to make them an alternative. I understand this may be controversial for some of you, but take a look at my healthy meal prep for your baby or toddler post to get a better idea of where I’m coming from.

Also, keep in mind that babies’ and toddlers’ palates are constantly changing and evolving. If they don’t like something the first time you give it to them, try again in a week or two with the food prepared in a different way. You might be surprised!

ROADBLOCK #3: MY CHILD DOESN’T GET EXCITED ABOUT THE FOOD I PACK THEM

Question for you: Do you get excited about the food you pack them? Does your child ever see you eating the same foods that you’re putting in their lunchbox? We often underestimate how much children learn by osmosis. If they see you getting excited about the different things you’re giving them, they’re more likely to get excited about it themselves.

Take, for example, the time I made posole but decided my little one probably wouldn’t like it, so I made her a quesadilla instead. NOPE! She saw mom and dad eating the yummy posole and wanted some of her own! Kids always surprise us – especially if you just give them a chance!

So, how’d I do? Did I squash all your fears or concerns? If there’s something else that’s holding you back, I want to know! Give me a chance to prove you wrong 😉

Now, let’s get to the good stuff!

Here are some ideas of creative lunches you can pack your baby or toddler (also note, many of these include snacks):

  • Lunch: Ground turkey, butternut squash zigzags, avocado; Dessert: Kiwi; Snack: Pumpkin-Carrot Muffin

A packed toddler lunch consisting of ground turkey, butternut squash zig zags, avocado, and sliced kiwi, with a healthy pumpkin muffin for snack.

  • Lunch: String cheese, sautéed mushrooms and cauliflower, Power Protein Bite; Dessert: Sliced pear; Snack: Pumpkin-Carrot Muffin
  • Lunch: Half a bagel with cream cheese and shredded zucchini, butternut squash zigzags, Power Protein Bite; Dessert/Snack: Orange

A packed toddler lunch consisting of half a bagel with cream cheese and shredded zucchini, butternut squash zig zags and a power protein bite, with an orange for dessert.

  • Lunch: Grilled chicken breast, butternut squash zigzags, Power Protein Bite; Dessert/Snack: Raspberries
  • Lunch: Sliced steak, avocado, roasted veggies (carrots, zucchini and broccoli), Power Protein Bite; Dessert: Freeze-dried strawberries; Snack: Happy Tot Fiber & Protein Granola Bar [*affiliate link]

A packed toddler lunch consisting of sliced steak and avocado, roasted vegetables, a power protein bite and dehydrated strawberries for dessert. There's also a fiber and protein bar for snack!

You get the gist…

In short, I try to offer a main protein, a vegetable, and either another protein or vegetable or whole grain as the main lunch, plus a fruit for dessert and a well-balanced snack. I love making healthy muffins for snack (as you can see) or sometimes I just end up throwing in a granola bar.

If you still need some more ideas, here are some other ideas in each category for you:

MAIN
  • Turkey sandwich with avocado on multigrain bread
  • Cheese quesadilla with hidden vegetables
  • Meatballs
  • Slider on a whole grain bun
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Shredded chicken with hummus
VEGETABLES
  • Zucchini noodles
  • Steamed green beans
  • Roasted sweet potato
  • Sauteed carrot dimes or sticks
  • Sliced roasted beets
  • Roasted asparagus
OTHER
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Peanut butter crackers (make your own, the store-bought ones have so much junk in them!)
  • Veggie straws
  • Rice cakes
  • Hidden Veggie Mac-and-Cheese Bites

Two toddlers enjoying an outdoor lunch at a kids' table.

Have I inspired you yet? I sure hope so! I’d also love to hear some of your ideas. What are your favorite lunches to pack your little ones?