A toddler who is 13 months old is naturally curious and eager to learn about his world. You can use this curiosity to encourage him to try new foods. Around this age, a child can suddenly become more fussy about what he will eat. Make his food interesting or exciting for him in some way and cut everything into tiny, toddler-sized bites. Choose quality over quantity. His baby tummy will hold only a small amount at a time. Be certain he has foods from the five important food groups of dairy, vegetables, fruits, grains and meat or beans daily. The American Heart Association recommends toddlers between 1 and 2 years have 2 cups of dairy, 1 1/2 oz. of lean meat or beans, 1 cup of fruit, 3/4 of a cup of vegetables and 2 ounces of grains each day.
Dairy Food Ideas
The American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children site advises that "your toddler needs about 1,000 calories a day to meet his needs for growth, energy, and good nutrition.” It further states that “cholesterol and other fats are very important for his normal growth and development ... Babies and young toddlers should get about half of their calories from fat.”
Milk is a good source of both fat and cholesterol. “Infants and toddlers up to age two have the highest energy needs per unit of body weight of any age group. Fats are an important source of calories and nutrients for these youngsters," states the Food and Drug Administration. Check the labels to avoid trans fats. In addition to milk, some other dairy foods to include in his diet are yogurt, cheese and, of course, ice cream, in small quantities. Mixing some tiny pieces of fruit into his yogurt or ice cream is one method to have him eat a fruit that may not be on his “most loved” list.
Some food products for fulfilling your toddler's grain needs are breads and cereals. A moderate amount of peanut butter on his bread will give him fat, protein and lots of flavor. He will love mild cookies such as animal crackers. Stand up two animals against other food on his plate to have him try new food items. Whole-grain, unsweetened cereals, such as oatmeal and tasty little O's of oats are usually toddler favorites. Pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton advises to “give your child his or her own small fork and spoon. Children often enjoy feeding themselves.” Brazelton further suggests to “cut sandwiches into triangles or small shapes using a cookie cutter.”
Sources of Protein
Some examples of protein-rich foods that are good for your baby are lean meat (such as chicken or turkey), tofu, fish and beans. Your youngster can also obtain needed iron from many of these foods. Carefully cut pieces of meat or meatballs very small to prevent gagging. Cut up fish, as well, and be sure to check it carefully for bones. Beans can be given to a toddler with other vegetables or in soup. Make sure the beans are sliced small enough for him to swallow easily and you should taste the soup first to make sure it is warm, not hot. Children mimic what they see. For example, If your toddler sees you enjoying tofu, he will be more likely to want to try it.
Perhaps the easiest foods for your toddler to eat are fruits. Make sure to remove any skin, core or seeds from fruit you give your child and to cut it into small pieces. If you're lucky enough to have berry bushes or fruit trees nearby, allow your toddler to help pick some. Then have him help you bake apricot cookies, mix a peach smoothie or make applesauce after you both have gathered and washed the fruit. Other fruits to try are bananas, pears and seedless grapes that you cut up into small segments. Fruit juices are also a toddler favorite, but make sure he doesn't fill up on juice.
This category can be one of the most challenging to fulfill. Help your youngster plant some vegetable seeds and assist you with weeding and watering the garden. Most children will be more likely to try vegetables that they have cared for and helped grow. If it is not gardening season, let him take part by getting vegetables out of their bag and washing them. Make use of holidays to try new vegetables such as pumpkin around Halloween or sweet potato for Thanksgiving. A toddler loves a variety of experiences, so be sure to include different textures, smells, tastes and colors in his food. Mash or cut up such vegetables as spinach, potato, squash and carrots. You can also try disguising a small amount of a vegetable he doesn't usually choose in something he loves, such as vanilla pudding.