Nutrition For Your Two-Year Old | Pediatrics East
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The Second Year

The Second Year 

After their first birthday, there are many changes to be made in your baby's diet. An average one year old requires around 1,000 calories per day for good growth, energy, and nutrition. They need foods from the same basic nutrition groups as adults, so feeding a toddler isn't rocket science!

Cut Back on Milk

Bottle-fed babies are ready to switch to a cup, and many breast-fed babies are weaning themselves. At one year of age, formula is relinquished in favor of high fat whole milk, offered by cup, with one dropper of infant multi-vitamins per day. At your baby's third birthday, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends changing to skim milk with the RDA of a multivitamin per day.

There is a natural tendency for babies to decrease their milk intake at this age. If that does not occur, be sure to limit your baby's intake to less than 24 oz. If your baby refuses milk, then just be sure to introduce calcium in other forms, such as cheese, yogurt, and spinach. 

Increase Finger Foods

Finger foods are a large part of a toddler's solids intake, as many will not be fed by mom or dad. Feed your tyke until he is not hungry and then stop. Don't attempt to feed a child who is not hungry. Again, juice is not recommended. 

During the toddler years, you will find that grazing will dominate over 3 good meals a day. Just make the snacks healthy, limiting any sugary snacks. Ideas: grated apple, cheese and crackers. You may find that you get one good sit down meal a day. This would be normal for this age group. 

Feed From a Variety of Food Groups

It is important to feed your baby from a variety of food groups. Not only are you paving the way to a diverse palate, you are ensuring that they are getting all of the vitamins and nutrients they need to be healthy. Make sure to feed your child a wide variety of colors, textures, and tastes.

It is also important that about half of your toddler's calories come from healthy fats at this age. You will lower their daily fat amount when they get to 4-5 years old.

Finally, make sure that their foods are not heavily salted, spiced, sweetened, or buttered. The goal is to get your child used to the natural tastes of foods, not to mask it by changing the taste. It can also be harmful to their health in the long run if they have too much salt, sugar, and other spices.

Tips for Feeding Your Toddler

  • Choking is still a hazard. Make sure to teach your child that he only eats while sitting down. Also discourage speaking while eating, as it can increase the risk of choking. Make sure that foods are cut into manageable pieces. Always supervise your child during meal time. 
  • Test all food first to make sure it isn't too hot. Your child won't take the time to check and will just dig it. 
  •  Ideally, your toddler will have 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. However, this is not always realistic. You may find that grazing is more common for your toddler. Encourage him to eat during meal times, but don't force it.
  • Their tummies are small, so make sure that they get nutrient rich foods as opposed to the empty calories found in junk food and sweets.
  • Your child's eating may be eratic at times. He may eat everything in sight one day and then only eat macaroni and cheese for the next three. Remember that it will even out.
  • See sample menus for your one year old here. The most important thing is that he is getting a variety of healthy food to help him grow big and strong.

This page was authored by Dr. Melissa Adams