How to Feed an 18-Month-Old

By Meg Butler
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At 18 months, your toddler's eating habits are changing. He is now ready to eat "grown-up" food and start building the eating habits that will last for the rest of his life. At the same time, your toddler is growing less rapidly than he did for the first year or so of his life and his eating habits may have changed. Toddlers may begin to refuse food at this age. Dr. Stephen Dowshen, chief medical expert of KidsHealth.org, advises not to force food on children. Instead, schedule 3 meal and 2 snack times at the same time each day so there are plenty of opportunities to eat.

Feed your 18-month-old 6 servings (a serving is 1/2 slice or 1/4 cup) of bread, cereal, rice or pasta daily. Whole-grain pasta and bread and brown rice are the healthiest options for toddlers. To encourage a taste for it, mix white rice, bread and pasta with the brown variety in a 4 to 1 ratio. Then slowly build up the ratio of brown to white. Look for iron-fortified cereals and grains.

Feed your 18-month-old 3 servings (1 serving is 1/4 cup cooked or 1/2 cup raw) of fruit daily. Avoid hard fruits and small pieces of fruit such as grapes or blueberries which can cause a choking hazard. Citrus fruit is OK at 18 months old.

Feed your 18-month-old 2 servings (1 serving is 1/4 cup cooked and 1/2 cup raw) of vegetables daily. Minimize the amount of raw vegetables you give your 18-month-old. Large pieces may be hard to bite and chew. Smaller pieces may cause a choking hazard.

Feed your 18-month-old 4 servings (1 serving is 1/2 cup milk or yogurt or 3/4 of an ounce of cheese). Limit your 18-month-old's cow milk intake to 16 to 24 ounces per day. Too much cow milk can interfere with your child's iron absorption.

Feed your 18-month-old 2 servings (1 serving is 1 egg or 1/2 cup of cooked beans) of protein-rich food daily. Avoid feeding your 18-month-old nuts. They are small and hard and may pose a choking hazard. Concentrate on iron-fortified or naturally iron-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, beans and tofu.