Food for a one year old: your baby is one, now how do you feed?

You baby is one. Well, she isn’t really a baby anymore, is she? She is making the transition from an infant to a toddler (how did that happen?!).

You may have spent a lot of time getting ready to start solids, but now that your little one is passed the starting solids phase, how do you adjust? What does he need? And what can you expect? Let’s dive in and talk about food for a one year old: Your baby is one, now what?

What are my one year old’s nutrition needs?

As your child transitions from an infant to a toddler many things are changing which affect nutrition. Growth tends to slow (which may mean a decrease in appetite or intake), while little ones are gaining their independence and learning new skills (like how to say no). However, this period of time is still crucial for growth and development, so nutrition is really important as well.

I’m asked a lot about the calorie needs for a one year old. I am always so hesitant to provide hard recommendations, I truly feel it’s so important to let a child lead and access their hunger and satiety cues. That being said, a one-year old needs roughly 1000 calories per day.

Small portions, large appetites (and small ones too!)

I don’t mean to be wishy-washy here, but a young toddler’s intake may be really variable from day to day. Some toddlers may have smaller appetites. Others may have larger appetites and intakes may be comparable to you on some days! It’s okay. What’s most important is to follow your little one’s lead. If you aren’t familiar with the division of responsibility, read this post about forming a healthy relationship with food. Bottom line: it is our job to provide food to our little ones, and their job to decide how much to eat. We do this so we can establish a healthy relationship with food in the long run.

For those of you that want just a little bit more, here is a reference point for serving sizes for a one-year old. Before you review this guide on serving sizes, I want to emphasize that every child is different. Your child may not be eating a variety of vegetables, but could be meeting their vitamin and mineral needs with fruit. They may not be eating any meat, but could be meeting their protein needs with grains and dairy products. Don’t focus on the numbers here. Let your baby be your guide.

Let’s talk about milk

When it comes to a new one year old, another question that comes up quite often is the subject of milk. Is cow’s milk something all kids need? I get many questions about Offering Whole Milk After One Year Of Age?

So, what should we be offering?

At one year of age feeding looks different for everyone. You may have followed a baby-led weaning approach and your child is eating the same foods you are eating. Your child may be on lumpy purees, or other types of textures, that’s okay too. The most important thing here is to keep making progress, keep providing variety and keep doing so in a low-pressure environment.

What might these foods look like in action?

  • Vegetables: chopped finger foods/ chopped foods, roast vegetables with oil and seasoning. In order to make veggies soft, roast them using this steam roasting method.

  • Fruits: chopped or whole fruits (make sure to always keep an eye on baby)

  • Grains/ carbohydrates: whole slices of bread, crackers and cereal. Give baby practice with a spoon.

  • Proteins: all sorts of meat like chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, beans, tofu and legumes

  • Beverages/ dairy: 2-3 cups milk (if you choose to offer – read this post).

How can you add variety

  • Cook with new seasonings and spices

  • Try roasting instead of steaming

  • Try new fruits and veggies that are in season

  • For more on variety check out THIS post

One more note: sometimes the picky/ selective eating phase occurs around 1-2 years of age. It’s completely normal, and even welcome. Here are a few of my posts that discuss how to deal with that:

  • Toddler feeding and expectations

  • Dealing with maladaptive behaviors at mealtimes

  • How to help your little one try new foods

And don’t forget to relax, and breathe. If you stay calm and confident (even if you have to fake it a bit), your kids will feed off of that, too.

And finally, download my free guide to help your little one try new foods, which includes strategies you can use tonight.

There you have it. Food for a one year old. How to feed your baby when he turns one!