Meal Plan for Gluten Free Infants and Toddlers
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a genetic condition that affects 1-2% of the population.1 It results in an autoimmune reaction to gluten, a protein found in certain grains including wheat, rye, barley and their derivatives.2
When these proteins are present in the diet of someone with celiac disease, they can damage the lining of the intestines and make it difficult for the body to absorb important nutrients.3
Symptoms of celiac disease include (but are not limited to):
Diarrhea and/or constipation
Poor weight gain, short stature
What causes Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease mostly develops due to genetics. In fact, gluten normally does not cause harm unless the person is allergic or intolerant to it.10 Avoiding gluten if you do not have celiac disease is not likely to decrease or increase the risk of developing the disease.56
What should you do if you think your infant or toddler has celiac disease?
If you suspect your child has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consult your child’s health care provider for proper testing.
Should your little one be diagnosed with celiac disease, you can ask their health care provider for a referral to a dietitian who specializes in celiac disease to help you get started with planning your child’s diet.
If your child tests negative for a gluten allergy, your child’s health care provider may look for a different cause for your child’s symptoms.
Gluten free diet for your infant or toddler
If your child tests positive for celiac disease their health care provider will likely recommend they follow a gluten-free diet.
Grains that contain gluten include: Wheat (durum, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, Kamut, graham), rye, barley, triticale, Brewer’s Yeast, malt, wheat starch.
Grains that do NOT contain gluten include: Corn, amaranth, buckwheat (kasha), millet, quinoa, rice, nut flours, potato, sorghum, yucca, and teff.78
It may seem like everything contains gluten and that there are limited options, but there are many foods that will fit into your child’s diet which are naturally gluten free. There are even substitutions for some of your favorites, such as gluten-free pastas, pizza dough, and breads.
Feed your child a balanced, nutritionally adequate diet
A wide variety of foods should still be included in your little one’s eating pattern to ensure they are getting the nutrients needed for growth and development.11 Continue to provide a variety of vegetables, fruit, proteins, nuts, seeds, beans, and gluten free whole grains, in the texture and size your child can handle.
Learn more: Everything You Need to Know About a Gluten Free Diet
If your little one is diagnosed with celiac disease, they must follow a gluten free diet, including avoiding hidden sources of gluten.
Not so obvious sources of gluten often include breading, lunch meats, broths, sauces, condiments, and marinades. Other foods that may contain gluten include French fries, potato chips, candy, brown rice syrup, meat substitutes, and eggs served at restaurants.7
Be sure to read all food labels, and keep in mind that “wheat free” does not mean a product is also “gluten free”.8
If there are questionable ingredients, it’s best to skip it until you have confirmation that it is gluten free.
Meal Plan for Gluten Free Infants and Toddlers
The below meal plan provides meal, snack, and recipe ideas to help get you started with a gluten-free diet for your infant or toddler.
Be sure to modify and provide your baby food textures they can handle at their age and stage of eating.
Option 1: Omelet with finely chopped spinach and mushrooms
Option 2: Cottage cheese with diced pears and cinnamon
Option 3: Gluten free Oatmeal or quinoa cereal with sliced or diced berries
Option 4: Silver Dollar Pancakes
Option 5: Breakfast Papaya Boats
Option 1: Make Your Own Zucchini Pizza Rounds
Option 2: Baked sweet potato topped with shredded turkey and tomatoes
Option 3: Brown rice or quinoa bowl: layer rice or quinoa with roasted, chopped broccoli, and black beans
Option 4: Tuna fish (light) wrapped in a brown rice tortilla topped with sliced cucumbers
Option 5: Shredded or diced chicken or turkey with black beans, avocado and corn
Option 1: Easy Veggie “Fried” Rice
Option 2: Lentil Stew
Option 3: Ground turkey tacos with corn tortillas (soft or hard) and diced peppers
Option 4: Baked fish with green bean “fries”
Option 5: Fork mashed salmon and soft cooked cauliflower
Option 1: Green Parmesan “Chips”
Option 2: Hummus with veggies
Option 3: String cheese or cubed cheese and grapes (cut in half)
Option 4: Apple with nut or seed butter
Option 5: Stay Fresh Fruit Salad
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET). Chat Now!
Read more about the experts that help write our content!
For more on this topic, check out the following articles and recipes:
Gluten Free Meal Plan for Pregnancy and Postpartum
Nutrient Needs and Feeding Tips for 6 to 12 Month Olds
Introducing Major Food Allergens to your Infant
Does my Child have a Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?
Does my Baby or Toddler have a Milk Allergy or Lactose Intolerance?
Our meal plans offer recipe and meal suggestions for your child. They are not designed to replace your doctor’s recommendations, nor do they take into account special nutritional needs, including allergies and intolerances. The meal plans suggest serving sizes that may or may not be appropriate for your child. Please consult your doctor to determine what is best for your child.