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Tropical Food for Toddlers: Cute Meal Ideas with Fish, Dolphins, Palm Trees, and More!


Enough with this winter already! If I see one more snowflake—or ice ball—falling from the sky, I am going to scream. I’ve given up hope on wishing for warmer temps for the time being and have instead focused myself on living vicariously through memories I have of tropical vacations before starting a family. (Who has tropical vacations anymore after starting a family?) Channeling the warmer, tropical state of mind, I’ve taken to making tropical themed food ideas for my little one. Consider these suggestions for tropical food for toddlers, featuring islands, palm trees, fish, dolphins, penguins, and more.

Island Themed Food for Toddlers

It’s fun to create your own island scene or beach design with healthy food for your toddler’s lunch or dinner. Cutting everyday foods into cute and creative shapes can go a long way to inspiring your child to sit and eat! My daughter couldn’t wait to get her hands on her lunch plate today–she asked me if she could eat it from the first piece of food she saw me cut.

Consider fun sea creatures and other animals to live on the island. If you’re up to it, make a palm tree, sunshine, and even tropical flowers or seashells if you so desire. Grab a plate and use these easy steps to create your own tropical food for toddlers:

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  1. Put a piece of fried flounder, a chicken tender, toast, or some other tan, golden, or white colored food item on the plate as the sand / island. I’ve also used seashell macaroni and cheese, since islands and beaches often have seashells! Grainy or textured foods can be great, too.
  2. Add a thin slice of blue Jello or a handful of blueberries to serve as the water.
  3. Press small cookie cutters or mini vegetable cutters into fruit like strawberry slices or apples to create inhabitants for the island. I made a few strawberry dogs and some apple dolphins.
  4. Use a sun cookie cutter or circle cutter to create a sun for the sky above your tropical island food plate.
  5. Create a palm tree by stacking up slices of quartered grapes, and then add four leaves of raw carrot chips.
  6. Serve and enjoy the look on your child’s face as she can’t wait to figure out what to eat first!

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Palm Tree Meal Ideas for Toddlers

Making a palm tree out of food for your child to eat is a fun and easy activity. It’s also quite versatile! First you need something for the trunk—a celery stick or some quartered grapes will do. Arrange the palm tree trunk on the plate. I like to use raw carrot chips or orange slices as the palm tree leaves, but you could make leaves out of pear slices, apple slices, or other fruits or veggies. The colors may be a little reversed from the usual brownish orange trunk and green palm leaves, but the palm tree food designs come out really cute either way. My toddler now requests palm trees on her plate every so often, probably once a week.  Food for toddlers can be healthy and fun!

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A few simple fruit and vegetable cutters or tiny cookie cutters can make fun toddler meals a snap! The PopChef kit also comes with great cutters that make it super simple to create a mealtime masterpiece.

Food for Toddlers: Build Your Own Island

Why have all the fun by yourself? Rather than working to create your own food for toddlers, have your kiddos help you!  First, prepare all the pieces of the tropical island and arrange them on a platter or paper plate for your child to access. Imagine how much fun your kids will have building their own island out of food!

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Have your son or daughter help you to create the tropical island food scene by arranging the food on the plate however they please. Consider including foods cut to resemble tropical flowers, fish, dolphins, and cute animals to chill out on the sand. In fact, be sure to make a few extra animals to live on the island as it’s hard to resist strawberries or apples shaped like tiny, adorable animals! Who says you can’t play with your food, at least every once in a while?

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