As your child’s self-feeding skills improve, it’s important to balance his natural desire for independence with making sure that he is actually getting enough to eat. This quick guide will give you some peace of mind at mealtime.
How much food? By the time your child turns one, his growth rate has slowed, and, believe it or not, as little as 1,000 calories a day can meet his nutritional needs.
What kinds of food? Your child should basically be eating the same food that the rest of the family does. Try to cover all the basic food groups:
- Meat, fish, poultry, eggs
- Dairy products
- Fruits and vegetables
- Cereal grains, potatoes, rice, breads, pasta
Remember to think small. A serving of meat should be about the size of your child’s palm. A serving of vegetables means only about a tablespoon at this age. You should offer your child three to five servings of veggies a day.
What about fat? Fats are important for your child’s growth and development at this point so don’t limit them. In fact, babies and young toddlers should get about half of their calories from fat. You can gradually reduce this amount as your child grows older.
How often should he eat? The ideal would be to serve your child three small meals and two healthy snacks a day, but kids this age can be very picky eaters and good luck getting them to sit down for a meal! You may try putting healthy foods, like sliced bananas, apples or hard boiled eggs slices, out where your child can reach them and let him “graze” throughout the day.
Any way to make things more fun? Plates, bowls and utensils specially designed for children make mealtime lots of fun and help your child feel like a “big kid” eating on her own by promoting your child’s development of self feeding skills. For you, they make it easier to serve proper kid-sized portions. It’s a win-win all around!
Want more healthy eating advice? Take a look at our Ages & Stages Feeding Chart.