Denmark, Sweden, India
Danish toddler foods are similar to what you might find served in the cafeteria in IKEA. Indeed, Danish nursery foods exhibit the same Scandinavian practicality as the popular furniture store: They get the job done. The easy-to-chew staples include frikadeller (meatballs) and chopped salads. Kids also clamor for sm?rrebr?d, an open-faced sandwich made with rye or pumpernickel bread and different fillings: liverwurst, ham, cod roe, frikadeller, mackerel, sweet red cabbage, marinated red beets, and Danish cheese, among other items. Sm?rrebr?d is eaten with a knife and fork rather than one's hands.
Other Favorites: Like its German neighbors, Denmark is big on meat and potatoes (for toddlers, especially potatoes). Traditionally, fresh fruits and vegetables were not abundant because the long, hard winters made farming difficult. Today, however, salads and greens are much more common. Apples, cherries, and solb?r (black currant or sun berries) are typically served in small portions with cheese, and also used to add spots of color to various desserts.
Sweet Tooth Satisfiers: The pastry we in America call a Danish is known as wienerbr?d, a food introduced by immigrant bakers from Vienna in the 1840s.
The Swedes, oddly enough, are number one in the world's consumption of ketchup (the United States and Canada tie for third, after Australia), and children are certainly a big reason the demand for ketchup is so high. What do kids put ketchup on? "Literally anything, but especially anything that looks suspiciously nutritious," one Swedish parent says. A popular option is macaroni-and-substitute- the-cheese-with-ketchup-please.
Other Favorites: Falukorv (Swedish sausage), meat stews, fried fish or fish fingers, mackerel, meatballs, porridge, pancakes, and bagels.
Sweet Tooth Satisfiers: The Swedes love their ice cream -- in fact, they rank in the top 10 countries in consumption of this summertime favorite. But they're also careful not to let toddlers overdo it. Instead, fruit, fruit juices, and fruit sauce are typical substitutes, as well as sponge cake and rice pudding with fruit sauce.
Indian toddlers adore khichdi, a mushy rice-and-lentil-based dish (think a spicy, turmeric-yellow rice porridge), because it's easy to swallow, while parents love that it includes just about every food group a growing child needs. Vegetables ranging from carrots and green beans one day to squash and okra the next and a protein (goat, lamb, or chicken) are cooked in butter and turmeric powder. Because the dish is traditionally eaten by hand, the veggies need to be soft enough to smash with the rice and then scooped up straight into the child's mouth. A twist of lime and a dab of pickled mango are often added to enhance the flavor.
Other Favorites: Aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower curry), parota, nan or chapati (variations of flat bread) eaten with subzi (onion-sauteed vegetables, such as diced potato with fenugreek, bitter gourd, or cabbage). In South India, rice and yogurt are toddler staples.
Sweet Tooth Satisfiers: Gulab jamun, fried milky dough balls covered in syrup; lassi, a yogurt drink commonly sweetened with mango; kheer, a rice pudding flavored with cardamom.
Fun Food Facts
In India, kids and adults alike eat with their hands. This practice encourages mixing different types of meat, fish, and veggie curries with rice or bread (many Indians will swear this is the only way to truly enjoy a meal).