A 1-year-old is learning how to feed himself and explore new foods. Feeding a 1-year-old can be challenging because the amount of food he will eat, his food texture preferences, and his food choices will vary from day to day as he develops. The best foods for a 1-year-old focus on the basic nutrition groups and include finger foods and foods with vibrant colors and textures. The best diet for a baby also avoids processed foods like cookies and chips and instead focuses on whole foods like fresh organic produce and whole grains.
Basic Nutrition Groups
Stick with foods within the four basic nutrition groups. These foods should be served in portions that are appropriate for a child who is between 12 and 24 months old. Serve 1-year-old foods from the four basic food groups: protein, milk, fruits and vegetables and grains. Feed one serving of milk and two servings of fruit or vegetables per meal. A serving of milk for a 1-year-old is a ½ cup of fluid milk. A serving of fruit and vegetables is 1/4 cup of juice, fruit or vegetables. In addition, provide one serving of meat or meat alternative and one serving of grain per meal. An example of a serving of protein is 1 oz. of meat, tofu, cheese or yogurt. An example of a serving of grain is a 1/2 slice of bread or 1/4 cup of cereal.
Finger foods are best for a 1-year-old because their size allows the baby to feed herself. Finger foods are also the proper size for small mouths. The best finger foods for 1-year-olds are bananas, circle-shaped cereals, cooked diced sweet potatoes, cubed avocado, small chunks of soft meat, finely diced fruit, diced tofu, cubes of soft whole grain bread, well cooked pasta in fun spiral shapes, chopped hard boiled eggs, and small pieces of graham cracker.
Colors and Textures
One year old babies are notoriously picky eaters and tend to get bored with food. Therefore, the best foods for children this age are brightly-colored foods with stimulating textures. Serve vibrant foods like peppers, carrots, tomatoes and sliced cucumbers. Not only are these foods vibrant, but they have a crunchy, pleasing texture.
Serve a 1-year-old organic food as often as possible. Organic foods are those guaranteed by the USDA to be free of harmful substances such as toxic pesticides, fertilizers, hormones and antibiotics. The best organic foods to buy for a 1-year-old are apples, cherries, grapes, peaches, pears, nectarines, raspberries and strawberries. Produce with the highest levels of pesticide residue are bell peppers, celery, potatoes and spinach -- so buy them organic.