Feeding 1-year-olds can be a hit or miss opportunity. They want to feed themselves, yet they aren't completely sufficient at it and don't quite have the concept of using utensils. When they like what they are eating, they will eat it. If they don't want to, they won't and they won't let you help them. The key to this is to find what they like and serve it in pieces large enough for them to grasp with their fingers without being too large for tiny mouths.
Chicken is high in protein and low in fat. Create chicken nuggets at home by slicing chicken breasts into small strips and breading them before placing them in the oven. Grill chicken breasts and slice them into small chunks. Boil chicken breasts in chicken broth and give the baby chunks of shredded chicken. Give the baby a little ketchup or barbecue sauce to dip the chunks in for a little added flavour. If you are already making chicken wings, thighs or legs for dinner, pull some of the meat off of the bone into little pieces for the baby to grab. Beef is another high protein meat option for a baby. Grill a hamburger patty and tear it into small pieces and serve with some ketchup. Cook up some low-fat minced meat and crumble it for baby to grab. When making tacos for the rest of the family, take a little of the meat to the side and give it to the baby to eat. Fillet mignon is a low-fat, soft steak that can be easily cubed for baby to grab and eat. Fish fingers are easy to handle. Beans are also easy for babies to grab and eat.
Pastas and Breads
Pastas that are shaped, such as elbow, spiral or bow-tie, are easy for a baby to grasp. Penne or mostaccioli noodles cut into thirds can also be easy to handle. For a little extra flavour, add a little pasta or cheese sauce to the noodles. Be careful not to add too much or the noodles will become too slippery. For extra protein, add a little bit of sausage or beef crumbles to the sauce/noodle mixture. Cook a grilled cheese and tear it into smaller portions for a baby to be able to grab. For protein, add a slice or two of deli ham to the grilled cheese. For even more nutrients, add a thin slice of tomato. Serve a pita bread torn into small pieces topped with hummus. Use two tortillas and create a cheese and chicken quesadilla. Cut it into four pieces and serve with salsa for dipping.
Vegetables and Fruits
For side dishes, chunks of overcooked broccoli, carrots and green beans will be soft enough for a few teeth to chew through and easy for a baby's small fingers to handle. Peas are small enough on their own for babies. Sweet potatoes go over well because of their sweet taste. Cucumber sticks are soft enough to eat with few teeth. Mix them all together for a vegetable medley and serve it as a main dish. For picky eaters, add a little cheese sauce, salsa or salad dressing to them. You can also add applesauce for them to dip their vegetables in. Cut fruits into small holdable, bite-size pieces. Bananas, softened apples, peaches and pears are sweet enough for babies palates. Quarter a few grapes and serve them alongside baby's meal. Melons that are cut into smaller pieces will also go over well.
Breakfast foods are not only quick and easy, but are easy for babies to pick up and digest. Scramble some eggs and serve with small pieces of sausage. Cook pancakes or waffles and tear them into small pieces, with a small side of low-sugar syrup for dipping. Hard-boiled eggs in small pieces are easy for babies to handle. Toast some bread, a small bagel or English muffin, top with small pieces of fruit, and tear it into pieces for baby to eat.