Sandwiches are a simple, filling meal option that can help provide essential nutrients – like fiber, protein, and B vitamins – for kids. It’s very convenient if your child can eat sandwiches, as they’re a popular food in many parts of the world. Plus, they’re easy! Whether you’re filling them with peanut butter and jelly, smashed berries and almond or sunflower seed butter, chicken or egg salad, turkey and avocado, or hummus and grilled veggies, sandwiches are a simple option that works well for any meal.
However, many toddlers can’t quite figure out how to eat sandwiches because they require what Judy calls the “bite and pull” technique, where they bite off a piece of food as they pull it back and into their mouth. Some toddlers struggle with stuffing the whole sandwich in their mouth because they can’t quite feel the confines of the bread in their mouth as they eat it.
What are some ways to help your kiddo be more successful with sandwiches? Of course, you can just offer quartered/halved sandwiches at about 10+ months, but your child may have more success when you modify the sandwich to account for their current developmental stage.
- 6+ months: offer toast strips with nut/seed butter, smashed avocado or butter. The bread should be well-toasted so it’s somewhat crunchy.
- 10+ months: once a baby has a more sophisticated palmar release/pincer grasp, try toasted sandwich triangles. Start modeling putting the sandwich down between bites. This will help them slow down and focus on chewing what’s in their mouth.
- 16-18+ months: as your toddler gets older they may be able to bite and pull to eat a non-toasted sandwich. Start with a shape that has lots of corners – this helps define bites and allows them to sense the food in their mouth as they work with un-toasted bread. You can even use a fork to poke a serrated line in the bread where an appropriate bite line would be. Remember, model putting the sandwich down between bites – you can make it a game! If your child starts stuffing the sandwich, go back to toasted bread.
Here’s some considerations to keep in mind:
- Remember, every child is different – yours may be earlier or later than these age guidelines.
- Avoid wiping your child’s face as they eat (wait until the end and be as gentle as possible) – they need to tolerate food on their face to eat a half of a sandwich.
- Avoid honey for kids under 12 months – watch ingredients.
- Avoid large seeds for kids under 4.
- Our favorite brands include Dave’s Killer Bread (watch seeds), Food for Life Ezekiel bread, sprouted bread and breads with simple ingredients.
- Yes, babies can have bread – wheat is an allergen, meaning introduction in infancy is important!
- Emphasize putting down the sandwich between bites to help slow down your kiddo and promote mindfulness.
- If your kiddo starts to stuff or pocket food, head to this post.