During the second year of life, children show more and more interest in food, but parents may notice that they eat less or are more choosy about what they eat. Growth rates slow at this time and many toddlers seem to eat less compared to the first year of life. Those taught to eat wholesome, fresh foods will be more likely to prefer these foods for life.
Introducing cow's milk
Children at this age will usually want to eat what the people around them are eating and reach out and grab foods and drinks. It is therefore a perfect opportunity and very important to set a good example at this time, your child will also make the transition from breast milk or infant formula to whole cow's milk and should be drinking out of a cup rather than a bottle. Their expanding palate is ready for new textures, colors, and flavors, and it is the perfect time to offer a variety of healthy foods, not only for their three meals a day but also for their snacks.
Starting good habits now
Eating habits formed in the first two years of life are thought to persist for years, if not for life, so it is important to establish healthy habits as early as possible.
Children begin expressing personal preferences at an early age. Parents must guide a child's healthy food choices and allow the child to determine what and how much he or she wishes to eat.
At time, it may seem to you that your child is not eating enough food. But forcing children to eat something that they do not want makes them stubborn about their eating habits. By allowing some independence at this age you will be helping alleviate mealtime problems in the future.
The risk of choking is particularly high for young children because they may have problems chewing. It is best to avoid giving young children small pieces of fruit, such as whole grapes, raw vegetables, or chunks of meat, such as slices of hot dog, as they could be a hazard. Instead, cut them into tiny pieces or thinly sliced sticks, and for very young children, boil well and then mash or puree foods. Wet or juicy foods may slip down a child's throat without being chewed properly, so give these foods one at a time.
Serving sizes: 1-2 years
Children aged 1-2 years need foods from all the food groups, but with fewer and smaller servings than older children. For each food group, the daily number of servings and some examples of a serving are described below:
- 4-6 servings of grains and their products. Examples of a serving include ½ slice whole-grain bread or 1 cup cereal.
- 2-3 servings of vegetables. For example, 2 tbsp peas, 2 slices cucumber, or 2 tomato wedges.
- 2 servings of fruits. For example, ½ apple or 4floz (120ml) fruit juice.
- 2 servings of dairy products. Servings include 4floz (120ml) whole milk or 1oz (28g) cheese.
- 2 servings of protein sources. Examples include 1oz (28g) meat, chicken, or fish, ¼ cub beans, or 2floz (60ml) cottage cheese.
Sample Menu: 1-2 years
- 2 mini waffles with low-sugar syrup, 4floz (120ml) fruited yogurt, and 4floz (120ml) dilute apple juice (half juice, half water).
- 1 cup fruit salad and 4floz (120ml) whole milk
- 1 cup macaroni and cheese with green peas, 4floz (120ml) milk, and ½ banana
- 2 graham crackers and 4floz (120ml) dilute apple juice
- 2oz (55g) white-meat chicken with ½ cup cooked brown rice, ½ cup soft carrots, 2 slices of cucumber, and 4floz (120ml) water