What does a two-year-old eat?

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A few weeks ago, I showed you how easy it is to make homemade baby foodA few days ago, I shared what our daughter ate as a one-year-old. Today I’ll share what our daughter is currently eating at two and a half.
What does a two year old eat

Two-year-olds are notoriously picky. While our daughter has a rather adventurous palate, she’s often scared to try new foods. Our rule is that she must lick the food. If she likes the lick, she should taste it. When she tries these new foods, our facial expressions and words imply she’ll like it. (Unless of course she’s trying something like butter, baking soda, or cornstarch. She’s asked to try some strange things! As long as it’s edible, we let her try it! But we tell her that some things aren’t good in our bellies, or they’re not healthy. Now when we order pancakes at IHOP, she asks the waiter or waitress to take away the butter: “I no need butter.” )

We offer rejected foods over and over (and over and over). You hear this tip a lot with babies, but I think it holds true with toddlers as well. Don’t give up! For the longest time, our child didn’t like clementines. But Nate and I eat a TON of clementines, so we had plenty of opportunities to offer her bites. It took no less than twenty times for her to decide they were yummy.

We don’t force her to finish her foods. We don’t use the lure of dessert or a treat to make her eat. But sometimes I won’t give her more of her favorite foods until she’s eaten her other foods. For instance, I wouldn’t let her eat more avocado tonight until she had eaten her cauliflower. I figure if she’s really hungry, she’ll eat the both. If she’s not, she can wait for more avocado tomorrow.

She’ll often point to a certain food and say, “That make me strong? And healthy?” Clearly that’s a line we’ve told her often.

We often all eat the same things, but there are a few things that she understands are just for “big people.” Like Daddy’s coffee and Mommy’s tea. When we’re drinking our hot drinks, she likes to have hot water in a coffee cup. (I have a feeling she won’t always be this easy to please!)

She’s actively involved in the grocery shopping and cooking. She has an idea of how food is grown. At the very least, she knows that Papaw grows watermelons and that we have a garden. This year she’d like us to grow grapefruit and pineapple. 

So, what does a two-year-old eat? Here’s our list! (Like I said last time, no judging/critiquing allowed!)

50+ Foods for Two-Year-Olds

Protein and Dairy:

  • Hummus (often with rice cakes, crackers, or vegetables)
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Quinoa (often added to oatmeal) 
  • Flax (used as an egg substitute or added to smoothies)
  • Beans (often in quesadillas)
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Eggs
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Deli meat (you promised not to judge!)
  • Tilapia
  • Shrimp
  • She’s not a big meat eater, but she’ll try chicken, turkey, and beef dishes. 
  • Prime rib with horseradish sauce (What??)


  • Avocado
  • Tomato
  • Grapefruit (no sweetener or sugar)
  • Clementines
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Apples
  • Pears 
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Honey Dew
  • Cantalope 
  • Dried fruits–cranberries, raisins, banana chips


(if she resists, we sometimes add cheese. As she gets used to the flavors, we wean away the cheese. Or not. I’m okay with cheese!)

  • Lima beans (frozen, uncooked)
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Kale (as kale chips)
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts (I’ll admit, she’s not a huge fan!)
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet potato (lots and lots of sweet potato)
  • Onion
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Green beans
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Spinach (in smoothies)


  • Crackers
  • Cheese-its
  • Goldfish
  • Graham crackers
  • Cheerios
  • Animal crackers (These are our favorite. They may be nutritionally worthless, but they did help her learn her letters!)
  • (Whole wheat) tortillas
  • Pancakes (with pumpkin--our Saturday morning tradition!
  • Frozen waffles
  • (Brown) rice
  • Couscous
  • (Whole wheat) pasta
  • Oatmeal

We do whole wheat or whole grain whenever possible, even with cheese-its and goldfish. 

One of our favorite shared activities is baking. So yes, there are some sweet treats. But she knows that sweet things are “special treats,” so we eat them in moderation. 

Okay, now that you’ve seen the master food list. Do you want to see how that breaks down in real life? Here’s exactly what she ate today:

Sample Menu

Breakfast: We were running late (as usual), so she had a whole wheat waffle, raisins  and a bite of my granola bar in the car on the way to the museum.

Lunch: rice cake and hummus, pretzels, a clementine, and half of a  “quesadilla” made with a whole wheat tortilla, refried beans, pureed pumpkin, peas, and cheese. (Eclectic combo on the quesadilla, right?)

Snack: graham crackers and corn flakes (Corn flakes? Really? That’s so random!)

Dinner: pinto beans, cauliflower, avocado, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, and then some oatmeal with quinoa because she claimed she was still hungry.

Snack: We baked after dinner, so we split one of these muffins before bed.

It must be said: I’m no food or nutrition expert! This is just how we eat in our home.

If your two-year-old has/had a favorite food that’s not on our list, please share!


7 thoughts on “What does a two-year-old eat?”

  1. This sounds so much like my son! I have been wondering if he is the only crazy kiddo out there who loves grapefruit! I know I loved it when I was a kid because it was one of the only things I was allowed to put sugar on. I definitely don’t do that anymore, so he doesn’t get it that way, and I am always surprised.

    1. Aww, Gina! That’s great! I wasn’t a fan of grapefruit until I got older, so I LOVE that my daughter likes it now! Thanks for commenting! Are there other things that your son likes that you didn’t see on our list? I’m always on the lookout for new ideas! 🙂

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