Once your baby is able to sit up and feed herself, a new set of challenges begin. This is not intended to be a complete list but instead a few helpful hints. Be sure to talk to your pediatrician about feeding your toddler.
- Mash or cut all food into very small pieces. Kids are not able chew food well until they are four years old. Never give your toddler nuts, whole carrots, seeds, hard or chewy candies. Hot dogs, grapes and cherry tomatoes must be quartered then sliced into very small pieces. Peanut butter is ok to give as long as it is spread very thinly on crackers or bread.
- Don’t force it. It can be frustrating when your toddler suddenly won’t eat a certain food. Don’t stress! This is normal. Remain positive and encouraging but never try to force him to eat.
- Keep it balanced. Just like you, your toddler needs foods from each of the basic food groups: vegetables, fruits, bread (including cereal or pasta) proteins (meat, fish, eggs, peanut), and dairy products. Offer these foods everyday but don’t worry if he doesn’t always eat everything each meal. (see #2)
- Eating habits change all the time. A one-year old needs about 1,000 calories divided into three meals and 2 snacks each day. Some days she may eat EVERYTHING and other days it is hit or miss. This is normal and, believe it or not, will naturally balance out over time.
- Watch the artificial stuff. There is new concern that food coloring and chemicals used to make processed food and packaging is harming our children. It’s always best to serve fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid as many artificial additives whenever possible. In addition, never microwave food in plastic and avoid putting plastic in the dishwasher.
- Seated and supervised. Make sure your toddler is seated and supervised by an adult for each meal and snack. Also, teach him to chew slowly and not talk until he is finished with each mouthful.
- Say “no” to sugar and spice. Avoid serving food to your toddler that is heavily spiced, sweetened, salted or buttered. This will teach her to enjoy the natural taste of food and put her on a healthy eating path for life.
- Keep it cool. Never serve food to your toddler that is too hot. Always test it yourself before.
- Fat is good. Unlike adults, babies and toddlers need half of their food to contain fat and cholesterol into order to grow and develop.
- What about drinks? Water and milk are the best choices for your growing toddler. Fruit juice should be only be given every once in a while and only during a meal or snack. Never let your toddler drink juice throughout the day and never let her drink it from a bottle. It is much better for him to eat fruit. If you decide to allow juice as a treat, make sure it is 100% fruit juice without any sugar or other additives.
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