smartmom picky toddler

7 Holiday Foods your Picky Toddler will Actually Eat

Photo by The Red Balloon Photography

You work hard on holiday meals – they take lots of preparation and your family looks forward to enjoying them together.  But when your toddler refuses to eat any of the holiday fare you’ve made, that definitely isn’t festive. 

Here are seven suggestions from myself and a few of my friends for holiday items to add to your meal offerings to help your picky toddler (and you) enjoy your holiday meal.

Fruit or Veggie Platters

If you don’t already have them on the list, fruit and/or veggie platters are great snacks, and a fun way to make sure your kids get those servings for the day, when they might not eat cranberry sauce, green bean casserole or other holiday vegetables. You can even make them in the shape of a Christmas tree (broccoli for branches, cherry tomatoes or red peppers as lights/garland, yellow peppers or pineapple for a star, carrot sticks, pretzels or celery for the tree trunk and cauliflower for snow or something similar).

Sweet Potatoes

If your kids aren’t already fans, this might be a perfect opportunity to get them to love sweet potatoes, especially since many holiday recipes give you an excuse to smother them in marshmallows. You could even make them into dessert cupcakes. Many argue that sweet potatoes are much healthier than white potatoes.

Holiday-Shaped Sandwiches

One of my friends has a son that won’t have anything to do with turkey or ham and will only eat peanut butter and jelly, so she makes a few sandwiches for him each holiday (packs them in a small cooler if they go visit relatives) and to make them festive, she cuts them with holiday cookie cutters, so they become snowmen, Christmas trees and reindeer. Other friends have chimed in that this works well with deli meat, and most other types of sandwiches, too.

Zucchini or Banana Bread

My sister-in-law makes terrific zucchini bread, stuffed with not only zucchini, but carrots and other veggie goodies. Once my son called it “brownie bread” and they actually choose it over regular brownies given the choice. I don’t call it zucchini bread or mention that it is chock full of vegetables they would never otherwise touch with a ten-foot pole. Never underestimate the power of a cool name to draw kids to a food. Giving even plain jane foods cool names can up their appeal.

Party Meatballs

Although they seem more at home at a SuperBowl party, tossing some meatballs (ground beef or turkey) in a crockpot with some barbeque sauce can also be a kid pleaser.


Dips are a fun family treat for my family – we are always trying new versions with our favorite ingredients. Spinach and artichoke, ham and swiss, hummus, sausage – any ingredient your child likes, you can probably find a fun dip that incorporates it. Like the brownie bread – a cool name and a different delivery system can make protein and/or veggies go down easier.

Cheese and Crackers Platter

Although basic and no-frills, my friends still swear by the cheese and crackers platter if all else fails. Get the holiday cookie cutters back out, make some fun cheese shapes (you could add deli meat shapes too) and dress it up a bit. There is such a variety of crackers, pita bites and many other things to choose from that you can really come up with an unusual arrangement if the idea of plain old cheese and crackers seems too boring.

You know your child best, so plan ahead and make sure to incorporate some of their favorite items into your holiday meal so everyone can savor your delicious food. For more inspiration, search recipe sites like Allrecipes, or Food Network for items you can try with your child’s favorite ingredients. Even blogs like The Pioneer Woman or social sites like Pinterest can be good sources for ideas.

Get more great advice and meet other moms. Download the SmartMom app today.