Looking for quick and easy, nutritious breakfast, lunch, or snack ideas for your baby or toddler? Then you MUST add TOAST to your repertoire! And if you're tired of the usual toast toppings like peanut butter, jam, and butter, here are some ways to take your toast game to the next level!
What makes toast awesome for babies?
- It's the perfect baby finger food!
- It's a fuss-free way to make every bite count when not much may get eaten during the first days or weeks (which is normal!)
- It's a great vehicle for introducing a variety of flavors and textures
- Makes introducing potential allergens easy. Simply spread a thin layer of peanut butter, tree nut butter, tahini, etc.
When can babies eat bread?
You can start serving bread to your baby as soon as they’re ready to start solids, usually around 6 months. If you’re unsure as to whether or not your baby is ready, grab this FREE handout. I can’t stress this enough - a baby who is developmentally ready will be much more successful at self-feeding.
One thing to note is that bread contains wheat, which is one of the top 9 food allergens. Do introduce it early and often as research suggests that doing so may dramatically reduce the risk of developing an allergy. Just be sure to start with a small amount and serve earlier in the day.
If you need step-by-step guidance on how to introduce the top 9 allergenic foods in a strategic way along with video tutorials on how to serve the food so it’s the perfect size and texture for baby, introduce variety without spending hours in the kitchen, and so much more, check out my 3 month meal plan course.
What's the best bread for babies?
Here are the top things to look for:
Look for the lowest option you can find. Why? Their kidneys can't handle too much. Learn how much sodium your baby can have in a day and some practical tips to help make sure they don't get too much in their diet.
I actually never realized how much sodium there is in one slice of bread until we started solids. Spend some time reading nutrition labels, which will become second nature to you.
Ezekiel Low sodium sprouted bread which has 0 mg of sodium worked out really well for us. It's usually found in the freezer section.
Note: Be sure to toast the bread so it's firm enough and won't form into a ball in their mouth.
The current recommendation is to avoid added sugars until 2. Opt for bread that contains 0 grams of added sugars. If it’s not mentioned on the label, look at the ingredient list. They may contain honey too so definitely check for that. Remember, NO honey until 1.
Related Post: When can babies have sugar?
There’s a lot of misinformation out there that suggests babies shouldn’t have whole grains. I’m here to tell you that there’s no evidence to suggest that you should limit or avoid grains for babies under 1.
Incorporating fiber into your baby’s diet can help improve their digestion and help battle constipation.
Now you may be wondering, how much fiber per day?
There’s no recommended amount babies. But you don’t want to load them up on fiber-rich grains as their digestive system isn’t mature enough to handle it. Not to mention, their tummies are small! So too much fiber can be too filling, leaving little room for other important nutrients.
That’s why even though breads made from whole grains are more nutritious, I encourage you to vary your baby’s grain intake with both whole and refined grains (white rice, white bread, white flour, etc.).
Related post: Easy ways to add more fiber
Avoid those that contain large nuts and seeds. Texture wise, avoid soft breads, like white sandwich bread, as they can gum up and turn into a sticky ball, making it difficult for baby to spit out. To help, it’s best to lightly toast the bread first so it’s not too crunchy but not so soft either.
To sum, when shopping for bread, look for ones with the lowest amount of salt and sugar. Rotate between low and higher fiber breads. Out of the low fiber variety, I recommend sourdough or rustic white bread.
My personal favorite is Ezekiel bread. It’s made from whole SPROUTED grains. The process of sprouting increases nutrients and make them easier to digest and absorb. It also contains legumes, which provide iron and zinc.
To top it off, it contains no sodium and sugar! Zero!
You can offer crusty, heartier breads like sourdough, ciabatta, bagel, etc. Your baby won’t actually consume much if any but will help promote oral motor development. I would offer with some nutritious spread so they can suck on it or practice tearing.
Related post: Best Iron Rich Foods for Babies and Toddlers
How to serve bread to babies
First, soft breads as mentioned can gum up and stick to their mouth, making it difficult to swallow or spit out. That’s why it’s important that you toast the bread so it’s slightly firm, not crunchy. There’s no need to cut off the crust.
For me, about 2 minutes in the toaster oven seems to be the sweet spot. You’ll need to experiment several times to determine the best toaster setting.
Now it's time to have fun with toppings!
Cut into strips or smaller pieces once their pincer grasp develops. From 12 months on, you can start offering a half to whole slice of bread as a way to encourage them to learn to take bites.
Healthy toast ideas for Babies and Toddlers
P.S. @kidfriendly.meals is my Instagram account! Be sure to follow me there for more quick tips and meal ideas!
Here are some other easy and delicious ways to enjoy a classic peanut butter toast. Remember to introduce possible allergens early and often!
You can substitute with sunflower seed butter if there is a peanut allergy.
A special note about "Exposure": serve a small amount of the food your child is learning to enjoy on the side. Just serving one piece may seem silly but make no mistake. Its presence on the plate is powerful!
I hope this post inspires you to come up with all kinds of delicious and healthy toast concoctions! Even if there are food combinations that you wouldn't personally eat, try serving them to your child! You just never know how they will respond!
For instance, I paired peanut butter (my son's love it food) with broccoli (learning to like it food) and my son devoured it!
You can certainly turn these toasts into sandwiches too!
And if your child decides to only eat the toppings or the bread, you still get to pat yourself on the back for serving a balanced snack/meal! Keep exposing. Keep role modeling. Don't pressure. Instead, allow the table to be a place of happiness, safety, and one that encourages curiosity.
More breakfast/snack ideas
- EASY breakfast ideas for toddlers
- Overnight oats or quinoa
- Single Serve Chia Puddings
- Lentils 4 Ways
- Microwave Egg Oatmeals
- Breakfast ideas for babies
- Baby and Toddler Muffins
Do you want to minimize picky eating and set a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating habits?
Check out this 3 month mastering self-feeding program! It’s the closest thing to me being in your kitchen