What to Feed a One-Year-Old

Exploring Textures and Taste With Your 1-Year-Old

You can feed your 1-year-old just about anything you eat yourself, but if he likes it or not depends on his tastes. By 1-year-old, your baby’s palate is mature to detect most taste sensations but hasn’t had time to develop too many preferences—score!—so take this opportunity to set the foundation for healthful, diverse eating habits by encouraging him to eat a wide array of foods.

Diversity = Success

Diversity plays the most important role in determining which foods your baby prefers. But he doesn’t know unless if he likes it until he tries it; right? As long as you keep his total caloric intake at around 1,000 calories per day, spread out among three meals, anything is worth a shot. In fact, you don’t even have to worry about fat content and weight gain when deciding what to feed your 1-year-old if you make wholesome foods the largest part of his diet. Examples include:

  • A breakfast of egg, 1/2-sliced banana, 1/4- to 1/2-cup yogurt and two sliced strawberries
  • A slice of whole-wheat muffin with cream cheese and 1/2 cup of milk as a snack
  • A lunch consisting of half a tuna-salad sandwich, 1/2 cup of steamed green vegetables and 1/2 cup of milk 
  • A snack of string cheese and 1 cup of milk
  • 2 to 3 ounces of lean protein (chicken, fish), 1/2 cup of complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes, whole-wheat pasta or rice and 1/2 cup of yogurt or milk

Encourage your child to eat everything at age 1 within reason and without pressure. With the exception of heavily salted, spiced or sweetened dishes, consider it your job to introduce a new, wholesome food to your baby once a week. Most importantly, let your child explore tastes and textures. Your baby might have an affinity for the foods you enjoyed during pregnancy, those you liked as a child and those you prefer now, but he might not. The goal here is exploration, not limitation.

Dietary Considerations

Mother gives baby food from a spoon

Meal Plan for Overweight Kids

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By 1-year-old, your child should have his lower and upper central incisors and likely his lower and upper lateral incisors. That’s enough to get your little one out of purees, but not enough for large pieces, so you still have to chop the food into bite-sized pieces. Although a small percentage of early teethers see molars emerge around 12 months, babies don’t typically develop the musculature and coordination needed to grind their food until around 4 years old, so go with tender bits of food, too.

Weight-Loss and Weight-Gain Diets

By 1-year-old, your little boy should weigh between 19.8 and 22.9 pounds and measure between 29.2 and 30.5 inches, while your little girl should weigh between 18.2 and 21.4 pounds and measure between 28.5 and 29.8 inches. Don’t worry if your baby is a little over or under; just bring it up at the baby’s next checkup. Don’t start your baby on a weight-loss or weight-gain diet at 1-year-old unless instructed to do so by your doctor.

Tips

  • Try to offer a new food eight times (on separate occasions) before you call it quits.
  • Introduce new foods one at a time in case your baby has an allergy.
  • Feed your baby whole milk until 2 years old.
  • Add herbs to your baby’s food for variety. Although your baby has a sensitive, underdeveloped palate, fresh herbs won’t overload his senses and will contribute toward his total daily intake of green vegetables. 

Warnings

Avoid choking hazards, such as peanuts, hot dogs, whole cherry tomatoes, grapes, whole baby carrots, seeds, jerky sticks and hard candy. Basically, if it is bigger than the diameter of a baby's crayon, don't give it to him.

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