As you've probably noticed, your 1 year old is no longer content to eat whatever you put on his plate. He's not growing as quickly and therefore becomes more discriminating in his food choices. Preparing a nutrient-rich lunch is one of the ways he'll achieve the recommended 1,000 calories he needs each day, explains HealthyChildren.org. Since 1,000 calories doesn't leave room for filler snacks and nutrient-free calories, it's important to have a variety of healthful ingredients on hand. And, while your 1 year old is beginning to master chewing, always remember to cut even the most baby-friendly finger foods into square pieces no larger than 1/2 inch on any side to prevent choking.
Crackers are small, compact and easy for your little one to handle and chew. Choose whole wheat crackers, which offer more fiber than the buttery, flaky variety found in vending machine snack-packs. Spread a very thin layer of smooth -- never chunky -- soy nut butter between the crackers and pair it with a side of mashed berries or applesauce. Another option is to spread hummus between the crackers or let her dip crackers herself with your close supervision. Serve with half a banana, chopped into safe pieces.
Eggs are a valuable source of iron and protein for your 1 year old, but not all tots enjoy eating poached eggs . Scrambled eggs, cut up into 1/2-inch chunks, are soft and can be chewed easily, even without a full set of teeth. Pair with a side of steamed squash or peas. Prepare whole wheat French toast and cut it into 1/2-inch-square pieces. Spread yogurt on top for added calcium and potassium, instead of drowning his lunch in nutrient-free sugary syrup.
At this age, your little one is probably eager to feed herself using a spoon. Give her practice, and nutrition, by serving a lunch with foods that are easy to scoop and won't slide off the spoon too quickly. Mashed avocado with a tablespoon of mild non-chunky salsa is an ideal source of fatty acids and vitamin E. Soft-cooked and mashed lima beans, pureed broccoli and mashed sweet potato are also excellent sources of fiber, iron and vitamins. Skip the magenta, sugar-infused yogurt and offer vanilla or plain yogurt on the side. Greek yogurt has a slightly thicker consistency, which helps it stick to the spoon.
A little bit of leftover whole wheat macaroni goes a long way when making your 1 year old lunch. Add a few spoonfuls of non-chunky marinara sauce and mix it in well with a light dusting of Parmesan cheese. Mix the macaroni with pesto or serve the individual pieces plain on his tray, like you would do with dry cereal. Pair the pasta with 1/2-inch-square chunks of ripe pear or soft-baked apples.