A 1-Year-Old's Diet

By Sarah Collins
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At 1 year old, your tiny little infant transitions into toddlerhood. While your toddler is no longer on formula, you might continue to breast-feed, if you desire, as you turn to making solid foods and whole milk the foundations of your child's diet. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your 1-year-old needs a daily diet consisting of the four basic nutrition groups: meat, fish, poultry and eggs; dairy; fruits and vegetables; and grains and starches.

Daily Calories

Generally speaking, a 1-year-old toddler needs about 1,000 calories a day. Divide this into three small meals and two snacks. However, don't get too focused on ensuring that he eats 1,000 calories each and every day or that he meets his nutritional needs day in and day out. Small children can be erratic in their culinary desires, states the AAP, so overthinking things can make you mad. Instead, offer a variety of nutritious foods at each meal and let your toddler choose. If you have a picky eater, don't make mealtime a battle. Vary the offerings over the course of a week to ensure your 1-year-old tries a number of different types of foods, which in turn will provide a variety of nutrients.

Healthy Meals

At around 12 to 15 months, focus on preparing healthy meals that your toddler can eat with her hands or that you spoon-feed her. As she grows, she'll become more adept at using utensils, and the number of potential meals will grow.

The AAP suggests offering 1/2 cup of iron-fortified cereal or a cooked egg at breakfast, along with a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of whole milk and some fresh fruit. For a snack, try a slice of toast with peanut butter or cream cheese, along with milk.

At lunch, SuperKids Nutrition recommends an ounce of chopped chicken, a tablespoon of grains such as quinoa and a couple of tablespoons of black beans and bell peppers. Add 1/2 cup of whole milk and half a banana.

Another potential snack could be a couple of ounces of string cheese or 2 to 3 tablespoons of berries. At dinner, try 2 to 3 ounces of cooked meat, 1/2 cup of vegetables and 1/2 cup of pasta, rice or potatoes. Finish it off with 1/2 cup of whole milk.

Problematic Nutrients

Pay particular attention to your child's iron consumption after age 1, as there's increased risk of deficiency that can lead to anemia and physical, mental or behavioral developmental problems. To help prevent this, limit your 1-year-old's milk intake to 16 to 24 ounces a day, and serve iron-fortified cereal and iron-rich foods such as meal, fish and beans. While it may be tempting to serve low-fat or fat-free products to your little one in the interest of long-term health, cholesterol and fat are vital for your toddler's growth and development. Stick to full-fat foods until age 2.

Beverages

Serve whole milk daily so your child gets the calcium and vitamin D he needs for bone development. Try to transition to serving the milk in a cup rather than a bottle, making the full switch by 18 months old. At the beginning of the transition to milk, if your child doesn't like the taste of cow's milk, mix it with formula or breast milk. Gradually adjust the mixture until it's fully cow's milk. Beyond milk, serve your child only water. If you offer 100 percent fruit juice, limit it to 4 to 6 ounces a day.

Foods to Avoid

At a year old, your child can now eat foods such as honey and peanut butter without concern. However, there's still a risk of choking because children don't chew with a grinding motion to break down food until about age 4, according to the AAP. Serve soft, mashable foods or those cut into small pieces. Avoid peanuts, whole grapes, whole cherry tomatoes, carrots, seeds, whole hot dogs or hard candies, all of which pose a choking hazard. Serve peanut butter only when thinly spread on a piece of bread or cracker. Always supervise your 1-year-old while she's eating.

About the Author

Sarah Collins has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State-University Park and formal education in fitness and nutrition. Collins is an experienced blogger, editor and designer, who specializes in nutrition, fitness, weddings, food and parenting topics. She has been published in Arizona Weddings, Virginia Bride and on Gin & Pork and Bashelorette.com.