If you're looking for wheat-free toddler lunch ideas, you can go with pre-packaged wheat-free goodies, make your own from scratch, or create a combo from both.
Reasons for a Wheat-Free Diet for Children
The reasons behind a wheat-free diet for children are varied. In general, wheat-free diets are necessary for children who have an allergy or intolerance to wheat.
Wheat allergy symptoms are brought about when the immune system responds inappropriately to proteins found in wheat. In rare cases, wheat allergies can bring about anaphylactic shock, but more common symptoms include:
- Respiratory problems
- Skin rashes
- Stomach problems
Allergy symptoms usually manifest within two hours after eating wheat, but may take longer in some cases.
Wheat intolerance is different than an allergy. It means the child is not able to digest or process wheat properly. This leads to symptoms like:
- Stomach and bowel irritation
Toddlers Can Be Picky Eaters
Trying to find wheat-free toddler lunch ideas can be complicated if your toddler is a picky eater. When trying to come up with creative wheat-free options, it is not uncommon for parents to think it is the specialized diet that causes their toddler to turn up his nose at the food on his plate. In reality, his behavior may result from any one of a number of reasons. Tastes and textures of new foods take intorductory time for some toddlers, others children may be asserting their right to refuse food as a display of independence. Finally, some children may just not be hungry. Sometimes the lack of appetite can be blamed on the consumption of too many glasses of milk or juice. If your child is eating less than you think they should, talk with your pediatrician about your concerns.
Wheat-Free Toddler Lunch Ideas
While eating wheat-free can be a bit challenging at times, when choosing foods for you little one, remember that toddlers enjoy easy-to-chew finger foods. Today, a variety of toddler-friendly, wheat-free finger foods can be purchased at your local health food store as well as at many major grocery store chains. These finger foods can be used as a snack or as a side at lunchtime.
Lunch Idea 1
- Gluten-free pita cheese Quesadilla
- Gerber Graduates Sweet Potato Veggie Puffs
This wheat-free toddler lunch incorporates vegetables in Gerber Graduates Sweet Potato Veggie Puffs. They are small, they melt in the mouth, and are gluten-free. To make the Quesadilla, use a gluten-free pita, put it in a non-stick pan, top with your toddler's favorite cheese. As the cheese starts to melt, fold the pita over in half. Put it on the plate, cut it into easy-to-handle triangles and serve with a handful of Sweet Potato Veggie Puffs.
Lunch Idea 2
- Cream cheese and jelly sandwich on gluten-free bread, cut into fourths.
- Banana slices with gluten-free chocolate sprinkles
To create fun shapes, instead of cutting the sandwich into fourths, use a cookie cutter to cut animal or other shapes from the center of the sandwich. The banana slices are a tasty, healthy treat that can help toddlers practice their skill using a fork.
Lunch Idea 3
Pizza is a favorite for the young and old. When cooking wheat free, it is convenient to have gluten-free pizza crust mix on your pantry shelf or you can make your own pizza dough from scratch. Letting your toddler help add his favorite pizza toppings provides an element of fun and increases interest in what's for lunch.
Talk with Your Doctor
Don't self-diagnose the reason for your child's symptoms. If you suspect your child has an allergy or intolerance to wheat, talk with your doctor or naturopath to set up testing. Tests will pinpoint the real cause, which is important because a variety of food allergies and other medical conditions can mimic symptoms brought about by a wheat allergy or intolerance.