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Quick reference medical handouts used by Pediatric offices


Feeding your One-Year old Child


see also: Feeding Tips for Parents of One-Year Olds

Happy birthday to your one year old! At this age, your youngster is becoming a child and wants to start eating like the rest of the family. A one year old may have no teeth, while others have eight or more. Some one year-olds have been walking for 2 to 3 months; others are still crawling. These differences in development are normal and one can expect similar differences in the way a one-year old is fed. Therefore, it is always best to consult with your child's pediatrician concerning which foods to give when.

MILK: Your baby still needs to have milk -- about 16-20 ounces per day. Most pediatricians and nutritionists recommend a baby should be at least 1 year old before cow's milk is given. Until then, breast milk or iron-fortified formula is the most appropriate milk to use. When your baby does gets cow's milk, it should be whole milk, not skim. (see: The Importance of Calcium)

In addition, try to give small servings from each of the following food groups every day:

  • Bread, cereal, rice, pasta
  • Vegetables.
  • Fruits.
  • Meat, fish, poultry , and eggs
  • Yogurt and cheese provide nearly the same nutrients as milk. So these can substitute for part of the milk your baby needs each day.

Remember, your one-year old doesn't have to eat something from each food group at every meal. Most babies have fairly wild eating patterns at a given meal. They may eat nothing but rice at one meal, and nothing but bananas at the next. But over time they do pretty well if you offer them a variety of nutritious foods at each meal.

Your baby's appetite is going to decrease in the next six months. Your child has been experiencing very rapid growth for a while - doubling their birth weight at 5-6 months and tripling it at a year. Now their rate of growth is slower than during the first year and their appetite cuts back. Do not misinterpret this normal decrease in eating as a sign of illness or disease. We recommend never forcing a child to eat specific amounts or certain foods. When children are required to eat certain foods, they learn to dislike them. (See: Let your child's appetitie be your guide) Develop a "take it or leave it" attitude and do not get into the habit of substituting, bribing or begging your child to eat. Your child will determine the amount of food he needs. Therefore, never overload the plate. If your son or daughter wants more, he or she may have it. One of our problems as adults is over eating, and many of us learned this in childhood.

Babies are born with a natural liking for sweet foods. Although a sweet treat once in a while is okay, don't give baby too many sweets. Also, be sure to give baby real fruit juice, rather than flavored drinks; and limit juices to 4 to 8 ounces a day.  Too much juice can spoil your child's appetitie and cause diarrhea. (see: Toddler Diarrhea)  If your family has food allergies, excluding peanut butter for at least another year is recommended. As tasty as it is, peanut butter, and peanut products should also be avoided since young children have more of a tendency to develop an allergy to peanut oil. This allergy can act very quickly, causing swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing.  Talk to your child's physician if you have any questions about food allergies. Honey should not be given to children under three years of age. It is possible for a child to become violently ill because of the intake of even a small amount of honey, which may harbor a bacterium adults are immune to. (see: What is botulism?)

At one-year most children, but not all, can drink from a cup well. It is time to start "weaning" your child off the bottle. Offer whole milk in a cup, not a bottle. This helps your child to adjust to both changes. Weaning off the bottle now will avoid a struggle later on.If you are breastfeeding, give all other beverages to your child in a cup. Wean from the breast directly to a cup when you and your health care provider decide it is the right time. (see: Milk Bottle Caries)

Whether you are weaning to the cup from the bottle or breast, help your child get enough liquid and milk—particularly when he is tired, sick or cranky. This might be done by holding the child and feeding him with a "sippy cup."

There is no need to buy expensive jars of toddler foods. You can feed your toddler the same food that your family is eating. Set aside a small amount for the toddler before you season the food for the rest of the family. Mash, grind, chop, or cut into small pieces the food items so that your child will not choke.Many one-year-old toddlers chew or gum food very well. Others have not developed this skill; however, without molar teeth (flat on the top surface) they cannot chew things such as a piece of meat or carrot sticks. Meat will need to be ground or cut into very small pieces to avoid choking. Raw vegetables can be lightly steamed so that he can eat the vegetable without choking. (See: Ways to prevent choking in Infants and Children)

Parents are the teachers of food habits. As children grow they are watching for clues on food choices. Children will copy many habits, likes and dislikes. When making food choices, actions speak louder than words. If you want your child to develop a preference for nutritious foods, consider the following:

  • Develop good food habits yourself.
  • Avoid talk about foods you do not like. Talk about foods you enjoy.
  • Never assume that a child will not like a food. Give them a chance to try!
  • Be willing to try new recipes and foods.
  • If a child does not eat at mealtime, remain calm. When the next meal is served, give the child his/her food as you usually would. Any snack between meals should be nutritious.
  • Do not make an issue of refusal to eat. Some children choose this behavior because they get lots of attention.
  • Encourage a child to help in planning and preparing meals and snacks.
  • Serve regular meals and snacks.
  • Buy healthful food. Parents are the best judges of what a child should eat. Children are the best judges of how much they should eat.
  • Make mealtime pleasant.

for additional information on feeding a one-year old, see our One-Year old Growth Milestones

 

As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your child’s pediatrician. Please read our full disclaimer.

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