I have a STRONG-MINDED one-year-old at my house. I’m certain she gets it from her Dad. She loves Mom’s milk and not much else really. She can even tell Mom’s milk from cow’s milk in a bottle. And she refuses the cow’s milk. It’s insane. And it leaves me researching: What should my one-year-old be eating?
In my practice and my family, I have found that MANY one-year-olds are tricky with their diets. And you don’t want to succumb to these bad habits early.
Needless to say, weaning is not going well. And my husband worries about her intake so I’m hearing about it routinely. She will save up all day until Mom walks in the door and the endless flow of milk begins. She wakes more now than she did at 2 months just to nurse and cuddle. I’m one worn-out Mama. And I know many of you have been there, too.
So, what should your one-year-old be eating?
I have found that there is SO much more information out there for 2-year-olds and babies under 1-year-of-age. Not that much about 1-year-olds really. That’s because this is the TRANSITION time. It looks a little different for everyone because one baby’s milk intake will be different than the next. Your one-year-old does have basic needs, though. So, let’s make this as simple as possible.
The One-Year-Old’s Dietary Basic Needs:
1. WHOLE milk – Don’t go 2% until 2. At one-year, you can transition from bottle to sippy cup and breast milk or formula to WHOLE milk. Sounds easy – and was with my 15-year-old but my baby is having NONE of it. More on this subject below.
What about JUICE? The short answer is no more than 4 oz a DAY in an open cup, not sippy cup. Juice is NOT needed but can be a little treat with one meal a day if you desire. Please minimize your use.
2. FOODS – Anything is on the table at this point (except obvious choking hazards). I LOVE the phrase “The Parent Provides, the Child Decides” Parents teach their children how and what to eat. Give them what you are eating and model good eating behaviors. Don’t force feed but don’t avoid giving them a chance to try it just because they didn’t last week. Try fresh fruits and vegetables. Give them chicken and eggs. Remember, many of these habits will stick for LIFE. MODEL and TEACH good eating habits. We need more of that today.
If you would like exacts, the diet should be approximately: 5-20% protein, 30-40% fat, 45-65% carbohydrates like vegetables and grains. That’s pretty precise for a little one, though. I know my little lady takes 2 pieces of turkey before it hits the floor. Good luck calculating that.
3. VITAMINS – the short answer is NO. Most children do not need vitamins at this point. The good news is that at your 1-year Doctor appointment, your child will be screened for iron deficiency and weight and nutritional status assessed. If no concerns were present, your toddler is unlikely to need additional vitamins.
4. ALLERGIES – Just because a family member may have a specific allergy, it does not mean that your toddler will have it. New recommendations are for EARLIER introduction of these foods. If your child cannot tolerate cow’s milk, fortified soy milk is the closest alternative.
5. PICKY EATERS – Around 1/3 of toddlers fit this category. The answer is try and try again. Don’t force but leave the option there – it may take 30 trials but most kids will come around.
What should 1-year-olds avoid eating?
The typical BAD food traps – sugary drinks and sugary treats. And anything that they could choke on. My little lady just had 4 teeth at a year but your little one may have a mouth full. Judge accordingly.
So, what if my baby JUST wants to drink Mom’s milk?
One-year-olds truly do need to eat foods by this point. They can develop vitamin deficiencies without the addition of food to the diet. Both the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and AAFP(American Academy of Family Physicians) recommend transitioning to cow’s milk at a year but the World Health Organization recommends it at 2. So, don’t stress. Just make it a work in progress.
We are slowly increasing the amount of cow’s milk in my daughter’s bottles. Starting at ¼ cow’s milk and 3/4 Mom’s milk with the goal to increase as she gets used to it. It is not wrong to continue breast milk if you truly prefer that as well.
Simple Solution: The one-year-old diet is a time of TRANSITION and frustration for parents. Getting them over to eating like you is the goal. Whole milk in a sippy cup, proteins, fruits, and veggies are the goal. Avoid the sugar trap and you will create better habits for life.
For recommendations to support breastfeeding (maybe too long!), check out: https://www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/breastfeeding-support.html
Dietary Recommendations for One-year-olds: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/1101/p1527.html
More Blog Posts On All Things Baby: https://doctormome.com/should-i-use-diaper-cream-with-every-diaper-change/