Previous Post Next Post

Toddler

Brought to you by

Muffin Tin Meals for Healthy Toddler Eating

By Jean Van't Hul |

I don’t know about you but it’s easy for me to get stuck in a rut when it comes to feeding my toddler. I can offer the same foods over and over and over. I’d really like to raise a healthy eater though (and I’m hoping this one won’t be as picky as child number one), so I need to make more of an effort to offer new foods and a larger variety at each meal.

Enter muffin tin meals…

How genius is this? The muffin tin makes for a fun presentation and ensures that I offer at least six different food items in toddler-friendly portions. Here’s a slideshow, showing our muffin tin meal at various stages of creation and consumption with notes and tips along the way.

nggallery id=’124440′

/
Muffin Tin Meals for Healthy Toddler Eating

Prepare your muffin tins

I used silicone reusable muffin cups to line our muffin tins. This is strictly optional, but makes the meal extra colorful and fun. These are Wilton cups purchased at a Michael's craft supply store.

Muffin tin meals are not a new idea. There are posts and visual inspiration all over the web about them. To help you get started, check out the following links:

Muffin Tin Mom – The muffin tin meal maven. She runs weekly Muffin Tin Mondays with people linking up and posting images and links to their own muffin tin meals.

Muffin Tin Monday: America’s Answer to the Bento – A great article about getting starting with ideas for equipment and fun themes.

17 tips for feeding picky eaters – Not about muffin tin meals, per se (although a “nibble tray” is  suggested), this article offers some excellent advice from Dr. Sears on raising toddlers to be healthy eaters.

Learning during lunch with muffin tin meals – Amy at Teach Mama turns each muffin tin meal into a sneaky lesson on colors, counting, or categorizing.

Read more of Jean’s writing at The Artful Parent.
And don’t miss a post! Follow Jean on Twitter and Facebook!


Fill these sweet tins with Babble’s Best Recipe: Chocolate Chip Muffins!

More on Babble

About Jean Van't Hul

jvanthul

Jean Van't Hul

Jean Van't Hul is a writer at Artful Parent, and author of The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family's Life with Art & Creativity. She has contributed DIY and children's arts crafts ideas for Babble, and continues to do so on her website. She resides in North Carolina with her husband and two children.

« Go back to Toddler

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Comments, together with personal information accompanying them, may be used on Babble.com and other Babble media platforms. Learn More.

22 thoughts on “Muffin Tin Meals for Healthy Toddler Eating

  1. molly @ cygnetsmall.wordpress.com says:

    Amazing Jean! Especially love the little heart turkey sandwiches, my kids much prefer their food to look like something fun. (PS. I think the slideshow works better without the words! As always your pictures are beautiful.)

  2. Marie says:

    I love those flower cupcake holders. I’ve got to get some of those!

  3. Michelle says:

    Honored that you would feature me, Jean! Thank you. it’s been a great way for my kids to try new foods and to just have fun.

  4. Jean Van't Hul says:

    @Molly Absolutely! My kids love fun food — shaped pancakes or sandwiches, teddy bear bread, etc. It makes a big difference to them.

    @Marie Yes, the flower cupcake holders are fun! Good for my girlie girls.

    @Michelle You’re welcome! Thanks for all the inspiration you provide!

  5. Kerri says:

    Can we be real here?

    Grapes? Or are those berries? Whatever. Choking hazard.
    Toothpicks? For a toddler? Really?

    And let’s not forget the joy of watching everything FLY as each cup is picked up and thrown.

    Come on, it’s cute, but A. It’s been done – a lot and B. It’s not the best of ideas for a toddler.
    5 year old? Maybe. Toddler? Not mine and not a lot of toddler’s I know.

  6. Jean Van't Hul says:

    @Kerri Every child is different. This has been working great for my toddler (and would for many of the toddlers I know). The grapes were sliced in half, as I mentioned in the post.

  7. Carrie says:

    Great ideas, I’d heard of Bento but not muffin tins. My daughter is a little young for the actual tin (19mo), she would possibly through it, but I can see her growing into this soon. As it is I think I cut up about 4 choices for each lunch I send to daycare (protien, veg, fruit, starch). So far she’s a great eater and I’m sticking to the Ellyn Satter (Child of Mine) philosophy to hopefully avoid a picky eater. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Jessie says:

    Well, my kids eat off real plates and real glasses. Does that mean they aren’t safe? Nope. I give guidelines and expectations, followed by steady supervision. At school, they eat out of bentos much like this. And (gasp) they use scissors, cut with knives, use real cooking appliances, and use toothpicks. What should a toddler eat? Cheerios and sippy cups alone? I love the idea of healthy foods displayed with such love and beauty.

  9. Alissa says:

    What a great idea. I try to give a full variety of food, but hadn’t thought of a muffin tin presentation. It’s rather cute. (Oh, and my toddler happily eats whole grapes without any issue – he does have teeth and he knows how to use them!)

  10. Erma says:

    I’ve always wanted to make Bento boxes for my kid when he needs to pack a lunch but the idea of prepping and cutting all the cute pieces overwhelm me. Somehow muffin tin meals seem less daunting and more likely something I could do. Thanks for this post!

  11. Michelle says:

    My daughters have been eating Muffin Tin Meals for over 2 years now and they LOVE them. It is amazing how they were willing to try different things just because they are in a muffin tin meal. The first time I tried it my daughter was hooked. When my little one was born I couldn’t wait to have her join in the fun. I used the little silicone cups to give food that was appropriate for her age and she enjoyed it. So what if it gets dumped on the table that is just part of the fun of feeding a toddler! My daughters (2 and 4.5) have been eating grapes for a long time. I still cut them up sometimes, but they both love when they get to eat them whole and just bite them. Thanks for the great post and sharing this great way of motivating children to eat healthy and fun meals with even more people!!!!

  12. Jenna says:

    I think it’s a wonderful presentation. I’m not sure why others need to criticize? I think we’re all capable of cutting and serving food that our children can “handle.” My daughter is 21 mos. and can manage to eat food off a toothpick without poking herself. And if the food is going to be thrown anyway, what does it matter? Or, better yet, if you try it, maybe they won’t throw it at all! Keep the great ideas coming, Jean. And don’t sweat the haters ; )

  13. Becca says:

    I love the idea and I think it’s great for toddlers! Toddlers are old enough to understand that you do NOT throw food (at least not without consequence), so I don’t see a problem there. If you’re not comfortable with grapes, use something else. Make it fun and personal for your toddler!

  14. maryann says:

    This is an idea I read about in a Dr. Sears book (prolific author of attachment parenting books) when my firstborn was a baby. But you’ve added a very attractive presentation for the toddler, and posted it in blog-form where it will reach many people! Nice! Toddlers do go through a throwing stage sometimes, but they still need to eat. :) Do what’s works best for your own child! Many toddlers would enjoy this, and have no problem. Make sure your toddler has access to many, many things that are okay to throw, and have fun with it! They grow so fast.

  15. jen @ paintcutpaste.com says:

    i completely love the muffin tin idea! we have been using a similar format within a bento box since my daughter (now 4.5) was a toddler, and she has always been fine handling the food in this way… and we have always used toothpicks. i have these colorful plastic animal ones (like these: http://compare.ebay.com/like/350287475998?var=lv&ltyp=AllFixedPriceItemTypes&var=sbar&_lwgsi=y) to make it cute and fun for her. what a clever idea for you to highlight this idea, as it lends itself to feeding kids healthy meals filled with fresh, real, whole foods. artful eating – gotta love it!

  16. Danielle says:

    @ Kerri – I’m sorry to read your very negative comment.
    As a 10 year veteran of teaching toddlers, and a mom of 2 children under three, I can assure you that YES, blueberries & grapes are wonderful foods to give a young child (anything that goes in the mouth has the potential to be a choking hazard, really…) and toothpicks are, for a toddler, a very novel way to eat.
    My children (and students) also eat & use real dishes & glasses – and pour their own drinks from a GLASS pitcher. And use scissors. And dull knives to cut their own softer foods.
    If your children are throwing their food, may I suggest you take their dish away from them, tell them, “I see you are finished with your food – throwing tells me you are all done.” And move on… no one is going to starve.
    And it’s always nice to refresh on unique meal presentations!

  17. Ronnie says:

    These look great. I bet my kiddos – aged 2 and 5 – would love them. And for the record my little ones have regularly eaten grapes and berries from about 12 months onwards. Earlier than that and I cut them in half. My 2 year old has recently eaten cherries and I left the stone in. She was of course supervised but straight away got the idea. I agree with Danielle in that children should be given some credit. My children are also proficient scissor and knife users and love their ‘glass’ cups.

  18. Erin Krex says:

    This is a GREAT Idea. I love it
    http://www.chicagonannyagency.com

  19. Pamela Spikes says:

    @Kerri – you seem to be such a bitter person. Reward yourself with a tin muffin and stop being so NEGATIVE!

  20. lakiernik says:

    regularly posts some extraordinarily stimulating makings like this. If you’re new to this purlieus

  21. Be pleased about which remarkably functional producing

  22. Melissa Ryan says:

    I linked up to you in my blog post about my son’s picky eating. This is a great idea and I am going to try it this weekend. I am at my wit’s end with his refusing to eat.

    http://www.adventureswithcaptaindestructo.com/2012/08/picky-toddler-eating.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

Previous Post Next Post

The Daily Babble