30 Days of Day Care Lunches for a 12 Month Old

[Don’t forget to check out our follow up entry: 30 (+4 bonus) MORE day care lunches]

One of the surprisingly creative things about parenting that I have really enjoyed over the past six months is finding new and exciting foods to feed Little Fearse. Initially we started off on mashed veggies, as probably most people do. When Little Fearse was six months old, encouraged by the experiences of others we started to offer her finger foods. She took to it immediately. Once she’d been gradually introduced to most foods we started to share family meals. Little Fearse is so far a fabulous eater and will enjoy a curry, casserole or risotto as much as she will a plain ol’ banana.

In Family Day Care we have to provide Little Fearse with lunch each day. Big Poppa and I take it in turns to create her lunchbox each week. This is a new challenge for us and we’ve found there are precious few resources on the web offering lunch ideas for a 12 month old. Ruth, Little Fearse’s lovely carer, changes her nappies and strokes her to sleep and teaches her to say “brum brum” when she plays with cars. Her job is not cleaning up yoghurt tornadoes from the world’s messiest eater. This means we need to send foods that Little Fearse can easily eat with her hands and that won’t create a world of mess to clean up. The foods also cannot be things that need to be prepared in any way, though they can be refrigerated or heated. Hopefully this list will serve other parents in our position as a reference point or at least offer a few good ideas for a twelve month old baby’s lunchbox.

A peek in Lil' Fearse's lunch box.

Clockwise from top right: zucchini balls, cucumber and cherry tomato salad, kiwi fruit, red grape and madarin salad.

  1. Boiled eggs* with chunks of cheese and peas (frozen peas defrosted overnight but not heated).
  2. Tiny sandwiches – vegemite, peanut butter, cheese, squashed fly (honey + saltana)**, ham.
  3. Tomato, cucumber, pickle and cheese salad. (Of course you can do this with any of your baby’s favourite finger foods.)
  4. Apple oat muffins.
  5. Smoothies in a straw cup – banana, strawberry + cinnamon is her favourite so far.
  6. Mini frittata* – pumpkin and leak is yummy, but you can pretty much add anything.
  7. Fruit, of course – my favourite lunches are those that include an array of colours. Grapes, berries, mandarin, orange, kiwi fruit, pear etc. These can be popped in individually or as a fruit salad.
  8. Soda bread rolls with cheese, ham and tomato. These are easy to make up if you’re out of bread.
  9. Left-overs from dinner.
  10.  Quinoa bars.
  11. Zucchini balls (we have a recipe for these, but you could make something similar with any veggies).
  12. Mini onion and beef burgers.
  13. Potato wedges with slices of avocado.
  14. Corn fritters.
  15. Berry pikelets.
  16. Zucchini chips (using one of those oversized zucchini’s cut slices into strips and crumb with egg and breadcrumbs before frying).
  17. French toast*.
  18. Smashed swede, carrot and pumpkin (add wholeseed mustard and ricotta before lightly mashing, leaving chunks for baby to pick up).
  19. Homemade chicken nuggets.
  20. Corn on the cob in slices (if your baby is lucky enough to have teeth – Little Fearse has only just popped one through).
  21. Homemade biscuits and slices.
  22. Risotto with chunky veggies.
  23. Bread soup (I make thick veggie soup and load it up with chunks of bread so they get soaked with soup but she can still pick them up).
  24. Homemade sausage rolls.
  25. Honey, banana and peanut butter toastie (pre-cooked)**.
  26. Lasagne – veggie, lentil, meat.
  27. Dahl with big pieces of veggies.
  28. Scones – Little Fearse likes pumpkin or cheese and chive the best. Or maybe they’re just the ones I like the best…
  29. Homemade dumplings.
  30. Sushi – I wouldn’t give Little Fearse raw fish, but wouldn’t hesitate with other types of sushi. Other people say raw fish is fine. I’m not a paediatrician or a dietician, so go with your gut or seek advice from a professional if you’re not sure. You’re probably smart enough to have worked that out for yourself without me saying though, right?

We’d love to hear your ideas. If you have something to add to the list please leave a comment. We love comments! I am also happy to post recipes for anything in our list that you are curious about.

I hope that this is useful to someone out there.

Mama xo

*NB: Little Fearse attends a day care where there are no allergies amongst the other children. This means she is allowed to have meals including nuts and eggs. I would suggest you check with your day care worker before sending any of the astrixed meals.

**Also note that honey is usually not recommended for children under 12 months and we only included this in her meals after she turned one.

12 thoughts on “30 Days of Day Care Lunches for a 12 Month Old

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  3. My son is 11 months old and starts daycare in 2 months. he only has 2 teeth and I worry about what to send to daycare with him. We haven’t been big on finger foods and haven’t really started letting him feed himself. Sometimes I give him gerber graduates fruit melts but that’s about it. so I know this sounds crazy, but how many teeth did your little one have when you started sending them to daycare?

    • Little Fearse had no teeth at all when she started Family Daycare, but as we’d adopted the Baby Led Weaning approach she’d been eating finger foods since starting on solids. I’m sure that your sons carer will be happy to feed him the normal foods he’d eat at home. Sometimes Little Fearse’s carer helps her with foods that might be a bit messy. Perhaps have a chat to him or her about it. Good luck!

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  6. Thanks for this post! Son just turned 1 and I’m running out of food ideas. This post was one of the top results in my google search, and I’ll keep the list on hand. Would love to see your baking recipes for quinoa bars or apple oat muffins? Thanks!

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