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Feeding > Feeding Your 1 Year Old

Feeding Your 1 Year Old

Now that your child is past the first birthday, growth will slow down and appetite will decrease. Your toddler is also becoming increasingly independent and feeding your child may become a challenge. To be sure your child is getting the nutrition he needs, consider the following guidelines.

General feeding guidelines

  • A 1-year-old can eat most table foods and shouldn't need baby foods any longer.
  • You can begin whole or 2% milk from a cup. Continue Vitamin D supplementation of at least 400-600 IU/day for all children.  
  • Infant vitamin drops are available at pharmacies and specialty stores.
  • Never give a toddler more than 24 ounces of milk per day. Too much leads to malnutrition and anemia.
  • Continue to avoid juice and sugary snacks!
  • Breastfeeding may continue as long as mutually desired between mother and baby.
  • Discontinue the bottle!

What should my toddler eat?

Offer your child a variety of foods from the five basic foods groups. If you are still nursing, continue as long as you and your child desire. Avoid high-sugar, low-nutrient foods such as candy, soda pop, and juice drinks.

Each day your toddler should eat:
 
  • Dairy: 2 cups (16 ounces) of whole milk (1 cup  = 8 ounces), whole fat yogurt or 1 oz cheese may replace 1 cup of milk.
  • Grains: 3 ounces grains (1 ounce = 1 slice bread, 1 small tortilla, or ½ cup rice, cereal or pasta). Whole grains are a better choice.
  • Vegetables: 1 cup vegetables
  • Fruit: 1 cup fruit
  • Meat and meat alternatives: 2 ounces meat, beans, tofu or eggs (1 ounce = ¼ cup beans, 1 egg, ¼ cup tofu)

How should my child eat?

  • Your toddler should be eating table foods and drinking from a cup, regardless of number of teeth.
  • Toddlers are still learning basic feeding skills. Encourage your toddler to feed himself. Let him practice with a child-sized spoon or fork, but do not be surprised if he would rather eat with his fingers.
  • Mealtime will be messy! Be patient and have fun!
  • Turn off the TV during meal time. Begin a good habit of family time around the table!

When should my toddler eat?

  • Your child’s stomach is still quite small, so it is important to offer him 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day.
  • Think of snacks as "mini meals" and offer protein with each meal.
  • Toddlers eat better when they are given meals and snacks at about the same time each day. Do not let your child snack all day long. Let him know that another time to eat will be coming soon.
  • Eat with your child as a family as much as possible.

What should my toddler drink?

  • Your toddler should be offered milk or water with meals.
  • Limit juice intake to 4-6 ounces per day, if at all — it is empty sugar calories even if it is real fruit juice.
  • Soda pop, juice drinks, and Kool-Aid do not have a place in your child’s diet. Do not begin these bad habits!

Where should my child eat?

  • Your toddler should eat all meals and snacks in a high chair or at the table. It is a choking hazard for your child to eat food around the house or while walking or playing.
  • Minimize distractions by sending pets out of the room and turning off the television and radio.

Does my toddler need a vitamin supplement?

  • Vitamin D is recommended for all infants and children. Learn more about Vitamin D.
  • Iron is recommended for all children. Learn more about iron supplementation.

How can I keep my child safe?

  • Toddlers can choke easily. Never feed toddlers nuts, popcorn, whole grapes, hard candy (including jelly beans), chunks of raw vegetables, hotdogs, or carrot coins.
  • Do not allow your child to run and play with food in his mouth. Always supervise your child while eating.
  • Before eating or touching food, have children wash their hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. This is the time it takes to sing the ABC song as he washes his hands. 
  • Let hot food cool to avoid burning your child’s mouth. Be especially careful to cool food that has been heated in the microwave.
  • If your child has a strong family history of significant food allergy or asthma, delay introducing eggs until 2 years of age, and peanuts, fish, and seafood until 3 years of age.
  • Parents and other caregivers should take an infant and child CPR class every 2 years.

How do I prevent mealtime from becoming a battle?

Remember that both you and your child have specific “jobs” when it comes to eating:
 
  • The caregiver’s jobs are to decide what food is offered, when the food is offered, and where it will be eaten.
  • The child’s jobs are to decide if he will or will not eat, what he will eat from the foods offered, and how much he will eat.
  • It is acceptable to hide nutritious foods in casseroles, smoothies, or other recipes.
  • Cut foods into fun shapes or arrange it on the plate in a fun pattern (ie a smiley face).
  • Offer small portions.
  • Encourage healthy foods by describing how much you enjoy eating them.
  • Keep meals to 20-30 minutes. Allowing kids to play too much or come and go from the table does not encourage good eating habits.
  • Do not substitute less healthy foods simply to get your child to eat. If hungry, kids will eat what's offered.
  • Don't give up! Kids need repeated exposures to a food to learn to love it. 
  • Praise when your child tries a new food.
  • If your child totally refuses a food, offer a food from the same food group at another meal or snack.

Adapted from a Children’s Mercy Care Card.

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