Dinner baby food

Baby and toddler meal ideas

If you need some inspiration to help you cook healthy and tasty food for your kids, try these meal ideas.

They are not suitable as first foods, but fine once your baby is used to eating a wide range of solid foods. Read more about your baby's first solid foods.

When preparing food for babies, do not add sugar or salt (including stock cubes and gravy) directly to the food or to the cooking water.

You can find more meal ideas and recipes on the Start4Life website.

Breakfast ideas for babies and young children
  • unsweetened porridge or lower-sugar cereal mixed with whole milk and topped with fruit, such as mashed ripe pear or banana
  • wholewheat biscuit cereal (choose lower-sugar options) with whole milk and fruit
  • lower-sugar breakfast cereal and unsweetened stewed apple with plain, unsweetened yoghurt
  • toast fingers with mashed banana and smooth peanut butter (if possible, choose unsalted and no added sugar varieties)
  • toast fingers with a hard-boiled egg and slices of tomato, banana or ripe peach
  • toast or muffin fingers with scrambled egg and slices of tomato

Lunch ideas for babies and young children
  • lamb curry with rice
  • cauliflower cheese with cooked pasta pieces
  • baked beans (reduced salt and sugar) with toast
  • scrambled egg with toast, chapatti or pitta bread served with vegetable finger foods
  • cottage cheese (full-fat) dip with pitta bread, cucumber and carrot sticks

Dinner ideas for babies and young children
  • mashed sweet potato with chickpeas and cauliflower
  • shepherd's pie (made with beef or lamb and/or lentils or vegetarian mince) with green vegetables
  • rice and mashed peas with courgette sticks
  • minced chicken and vegetable casserole with mashed potato
  • mashed canned salmon with couscous and peas
  • fish poached in milk with potato, broccoli and carrot

Finger foods for babies and young children

Finger food is food that's cut up into pieces big enough for your child to hold in their fist with a bit sticking out. Pieces about the size of your own finger work well.

Examples of finger foods:

  • soft-cooked vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, courgette, parsnip and sweet potato
  • carrot or cucumber sticks and avocado
  • fresh fruits, such as apple (soft-cooked if needed), banana or soft, ripe peeled pear or peach
  • toast, pitta or chapatti fingers
  • unsalted and unsweetened rice or corn cakes
  • strips of meat without bones, such as chicken and lamb
  • cheesy (full-fat) toast fingers and cucumber
  • hard boiled eggs
  • omelette fingers

Healthy snacks for young children

Babies under 12 months do not need snacks; if you think your baby is hungry in between meals, offer extra milk feeds instead.

Once your baby is 1 year old, you can introduce 2 healthy snacks in between meals:

  • vegetables such as broccoli florets, carrot sticks or cucumber sticks
  • slices of fruit, such as apple, banana or soft, ripe peeled pear or peach
  • pasteurised, plain, unsweetened full-fat yoghurt
  • toast, pitta or chapatti fingers
  • unsalted and unsweetened rice or corn cakes
  • small strips of cheese

Getting your child to eat fruit and vegetables

It may take up to 10 tries, or even more, for your child to get used to new foods, flavour and textures.

Be patient and keep offering a variety of fruits and vegetables, including ones with bitter flavours such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and cabbage.

Try to make sure fruits and vegetables are included in every meal.

Try these ways to help your child eat more fruit and vegetables:

  • give carrot sticks, cucumber stick or slices of pepper with hummus as a snack
  • give apple slices with smooth peanut butter as a snack
  • mix chopped or mashed vegetables with rice, mashed potatoes, meat sauces or dhal
  • add vegetables to classic savoury dishes such as cottage or shepherd's pie, spaghetti bolognese or casseroles
  • chop prunes or dried apricots into cereal or plain, unsweetened yoghurt, or add them to a stew
  • for a tasty dessert, try mixing fruit (fresh, canned or stewed) with plain, unsweetened yoghurt.

Read more about how to help your baby enjoy new foods and fussy eaters.

Drinks for babies and young children

From around 6 months, breast milk and first infant formula should continue to be your baby's main drink.

Whole cows' milk can be used in cooking or mixed with food from around 6 months but shouldn't be given as a drink until they are 12 months old. Whole milk should be given to children until they are 2 years old, as they need the extra energy and vitamins it contains.

Semi-skimmed milk can be introduced once your child is 2 years old, as long as they are a good eater and they have a varied diet.

Skimmed and 1% milk are not suitable for children under 5 years old, as they do not contain enough calories.

Sugary squashes, flavoured milk, "fruit" or "juice" drinks and sugary fizzy drinks can cause tooth decay, even when diluted. These drinks can also fill your child up so they're not hungry for healthier food. Instead, offer sips of water from a cup with meals.

Read more about drinks and cups for babies and young children.

Further information
  • Foods to avoid giving babies and young children
  • Food allergies in children
  • What to feed young children
  • Toodler food: common questions
  • Children's food: safety and hygiene

20 Easy Baby Meals (Quick, Nutritious, Yummy)

Find yummy and nutritious food inspiration for every meal of the day with these easy baby meals. With ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack, you can use these ideas to feed just your little one, or to make family meals they can enjoy too.

Baby Meals

Coming up with ideas for what to feed babies can be challenging, especially as they are learning to chew and still relying on formula or breastmilk. Or for when they are super hungry and it seems like we can’t feed them enough. Or when they struggle with new foods. This phase can for sure be a challenge!

To help, these meal ideas can work for any time of the day and are mostly geared towards babies aged 9-12 months who may have more of an appetite for full meals. They can be eaten with fingers as Stage 3 baby food and diced up as needed into small bites.

These kids meals can be shared with the rest of the family and are actually perfect for one year olds too.

I try to remember that baby (and toddler) appetites can vary and be unpredictable, so please know that it’s normal for them to eat a lot one day or at one meal and not a lot at the next. Follow their lead and try to enjoy the process of sharing meals.

Baby Food Resources

If you’re just getting started with baby food, here are a few links that may help:

  • Ultimate Guide to Baby Led Weaning
  • Favorite Early Finger Foods
  • Sample Baby Feeding Schedules
  • Easy Homemade Baby Food
  • Master List of Baby Food Recipes
  • Baby Food Stages 101

And now, 20 recipes to help you feed baby with little work and lots of deliciousness at the table!

Baby Muffins

Moist, tender muffins are a perfect food for baby for any meal of the day—and this recipe is loaded with three kinds of produce for flavor and nutrition. Pair with a fruit for an easy meal.

ABC Baby Muffins (Apple, Banana and Carrot!)

These are deliberately very moist (and moister than regular muffins) to ensure they are easy for baby to chew and swallow, so expect that from the interior. If you’d like to make them sweeter for older kiddos, add ¼ cup sugar to the batter.

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60-Second Scrambled Eggs

Fluffy scrambled eggs are rich in healthy fats and protein and are an easy to eat early finger food. And this is a method that takes less than a minute.

How to Make Eggs in the Microwave

You can season the cooked egg with a little salt, butter or cheese if you’d like, but it’s very good as is. See the Note about the heat setting when cooking in a microwave.

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Quinoa Pudding

A subtle vanilla flavor gives this creamy pudding a lovely taste, which when paired with the vegetarian protein and fiber, make this a delicious breakfast or snack for baby.

Easy Quinoa Pudding (for Breakfast or Dessert)

You can serve this warm like oatmeal or cold like rice pudding. 

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Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Blend up 3 ingredients to make protein-packed pancakes that are easy for baby to pick up and self-feed. Plus, they store well!

Easy Cottage Cheese Pancakes (to Share with the Kids)

These 4 ingredient pancakes are packed with nutrients and are so yummy. Double the ingredients to make a larger batch to feed a family of four as this recipe is on the smaller side.

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Applesauce Overnight Oats

With just a few pantry staples, you can stir together a satisfying overnight oats recipe that’s a balanced mix of nutrition…with yummy flavor! Serve it with a spoon or in a reusable pouch.

Easy Overnight Oats with Applesauce

You can easily double (or triple!) the recipe to make more servings. It uses a 1 to 1 ratio of yogurt to applesauce so you can easily scale it up. Mix these up the night before you plan to serve them.

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2-Ingredient Pancakes

With four flavor options, these tender pancakes are a power packed meal for baby. Bonus: They are soft enough to work for baby led weaning or as a finger food.

The Best 2-Ingredient Pancakes (Baby and Toddler Approved)

This recipe makes one small batch of super tender 2-Ingredient Pancakes. It usually makes 1-2 little-kid-size servings. To make more, simply double the recipe. These are delicate pancakes with a texture that's sort of custardy like French toast, so be gentle when flipping them. See the NOTES at the bottom for the flavor variations.

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Make-Ahead Egg and Cheese Mini Muffins

With options to add carrots, broccoli, squash, or more, these egg bites are easy for baby to eat and can be served warm or at room temperature. (So they’re great to pack for daycare!)

Make-Ahead Egg and Cheese Mini Muffins

These soft breakfast egg cups are packed with protein and vitamins—and can be made ahead of time! Add any veggie you like, whether carrots, butternut squash, broccoli, or spinach.

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Vanilla Whole Wheat Waffles

With cottage cheese in the mix for protein and calcium, these mini waffles are a perfect consistency for babies in the 9-12 month range. Dice them or serve them whole baby-led weaning style.

Vanilla Whole-Wheat Waffles

You can make these mini or full size. (Making them mini for sure takes longer so do what works best for you!). Adapted from First Bites

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Banana Bread Oatmeal

Put those too-ripe bananas to good use in this delicious (and easy) oatmeal recipe for kids. It’s delicious for babies eating solids and can be served with nondairy milk.

Banana Bread Oatmeal (to Share with the Kids)

When you use a really ripe (or over ripe) banana in this recipe, it tastes so much like banana bread—but is much faster! See the options for which toppings make this even more delish.

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Veggie Grilled Cheese

Whether diced up small or served in strips, this little sandwich has veggie puree right in the mix. It’s soft and flavorful.

Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwich (to Share with the Kids)

With just 4 ingredients, including a veggie that blends right in, this Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwich is a yummy kids lunch to share. It packs extra nutrition in the filling, yet only takes a few minutes to make. Such a great easy meal!

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Chicken Sweet Potato Meatballs

Combine 4 simple ingredients to make baked chicken meatballs with a veggie tucked right inside! These pair well with marinara, pesto or cheese sauce, are super moist, and are perfect to make ahead. Dice or mash them for easy eating.

Baked Chicken Meatballs with Sweet Potato

Plan to cook your sweet potato ahead of time. See the Notes at the end of the recipe for options!

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Extra-Veggie Baby Pasta

With a flavorful blend of tomatoes and sweet potato or squash, plus beans for iron, this tomato sauce is both delicious and easy to make.

Extra-Veggie Baby Pasta (with Iron)

Adding beans and extra veggies helps make this easy baby pasta satisfying, nutritious, and yummy. Serve it more or less saucy as you like. (You can even freeze the sauce for easy future meals.)

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Baby Food Combinations

Learn how to mix and match baby food for endless easy meal options. These are great baby meal ideas for 7 month old babies and up.

Baby Food Combinations (50 Easy Stage 2 Recipes)

For a 6 month old baby, 1-2 tablespoons baby food may be plenty for a single serving. For a 9 month old baby, they might want ¼ cup or more. Adjust the servings based on your child’s hunger, using a roughly one to one ratio of the purees in each combination. Nutrition will vary according to the combinations you use.

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Cauliflower Cheesy Rice

With cauliflower cooked right in the rice, this is a delicious vegetarian main or meal component. This works for a baby dinner or lunch from the age of about 8-9 months. (Or earlier if you’re doing baby led weaning.)

Easy Cheesy Rice (with Veggies!)

Choose one veggie to add from the flavor options below according to what you have on hand or what your family likes best.

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Roasted Sweet Potato Hash

Bake up this sheet pan meal to share with baby. Cut the pieces as small as you need for easy finger foods.

Roasted Sweet Potato Hash

Try this easy breakfast-for-dinner idea the next time you need a super easy and nutritious family dinner.

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Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Throw the ingredients into the Instant Pot and have the most tender and flavorful chicken to share ready to go. This was one of our favorite family meals to share when my youngest was 9 months old and up.

Easy Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Forget takeout—deliver this popular Indian dish to your table instead. Shredded chicken thighs are coated in a rich, buttery sauce with hints of tomatoes, ginger, and garam masala—a messy but very flavorful finger food. Adapted from The Multi-Cooker Baby Food Cookbook.

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Italian Lentils and Rice

Filled with Italian flavor and relying on an easy cooking method, this is a dinner to share. (Cut the melon smaller and the cucumbers into matchsticks or skip them as needed for babies.)

Italian Lentils with Rice

We like this with rice, but you can also serve this with pasta if you prefer.

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Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese

Use up some leftover baby food in this easy stovetop mac and cheese recipe.

Easy Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese

I like to use a small shape to keep this dish as fast as possible.

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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

With an easy method that blends the squash right into the cheese sauce, this is a delicious way to incorporate veggies into a baby meal.

5-Ingredient Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Use your family’s favorite shape and type of pasta in this recipe. (We like elbows or mini shells!)

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Alphabet Soup

This soup has an easy method and finger-food size pieces that are perfect for baby. This is a favorite baby meal for a 10 month old or 12 month old since the pieces are a great size for little fingers.

Favorite Alphabet Soup

You can use ABC pasta, orzo, pastina, or ditalini—or any other very small pasta shape in this Alphabet Soup recipe. And you can start with fresh or frozen veggies. See below for options.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What can I make for dinner for my baby?

Soft chicken, mashed meatballs, pasta, soft fully cooked rice, scrambled eggs, soft veggies, soups of all kinds, there are so many options for dinners for babies. I hope this list gives you some too.

Can a 1 year old eat family meals?

Yes, absolutely. You’ll just want to try to make sure the family meals are easy for baby to eat—which usually means soft and easy to chew—and cut into appropriate sized pieces.

What can I give my 1 year old for lunch?

Any of the foods in this list can be served for lunch. Or you can look at this post with more lunch ideas for one year olds.

Should a 6 month old eat three meals a day?

Generally speaking, that likely won’t happen and it doesn’t need to happen since their main source of nutrients at that age will continue to be breastmilk and/or formula. And fitting in three meals plus everything else to care for them is a lot. Most families start solids at one meal and then gradually increase. You can see a sample baby feeding schedule for more info.

Best Tips for Baby Meals

  • Follow baby’s hunger cues and end the meal when they show signs of being done such as turning away, dropping food, or signing that they’re done.
  • Remember that there’s no one right portion size and kids may eat a lot or a little—and it may be hard to predict.
  • Aim for a variety of foods (and flavors and textures) over the course of the week, but don’t worry too much about tracking individual nutrients or foods as that may just increase your own stress.
  • Sit down and share meals with the kids as you can as modeling eating and letting them watch what and how you eat can have a big impact on how they learn.
  • Review basics on lessening choking risks here.
  • Find tips on baby food storage here.
  • Find tips on weaning here if that is helpful for you.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this post, so please comment below to share!

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