Your baby is a year old- what a milestone! At this time, along with many other developmental changes you’re probably witnessing, baby is ready for some advancement at mealtimes as well. Here are the next steps as toddlerhood begins:
At one year old, transition to cow’s milk or other milk alternative, if your baby meets the following criteria:
Your child does not have any growth or nutrition concerns.Feeding your one year oldYour child does not have history of cow’s milk protein allergy.You are planning on weaning breastfeeding in the foreseeable future. If not, be sure that your child is getting at least 12 oz of breastmilk at scheduled times (preferably immediately after meals) daily, as well as 1-2 servings of calcium foods. Avoid allowing your child to “snack” on breastmilk at this age since it may decrease appetite for food at meals.*In these cases, it may still be appropriate to trial cow’s milk at one year old; however, this must be under supervision of your child’s physician or dietitian.
Tips for a healthy one year old diet:
- To transition to cow’s milk, offer 4-6 oz of milk in a cup at mealtimes. If baby is adamantly rejecting it (presumably because of the taste difference from breastmilk or formula), be patient and do not stress. Stay consistent by offering milk in a cup at meals, but fill it with mostly breastmilk or formula (whichever they are used to drinking) and add a small amount of cow’s milk (ratio of 4 oz:2 oz or even 5 oz:1oz). Every day, make the ratio a little more cow’s milk and a little less of the breastmilk or formula.
- Limit milk to no more than 24 oz per day to ensure baby has a healthy appetite for meals.
- Offer milk at meals and water at snack time and throughout the day as needed. There is no need for juice, and in fact, juice can fill baby up with empty calories which decreases appetite for more nutrient-dense foods.
- Begin phasing out the bottle. Stick to cups at meals and snack times. Often the bottle is most difficult to wean when it precedes a sleep time or is otherwise used for comfort. If your baby is really attached to the bottle, discuss ways to give it up with your pediatrician.
- Provide three meals a day that reflect the Healthy Plate Model with one snack offered between each meal. Click hyperlink for meal ideas. Good snacks include fruits, vegetables, or yogurt.
- Always eat meals with your child. Your child learns how to eat well through your modeling.
- Cook one meal for the family, and give your one year old a version of that meal that is age appropriate (i.e. no choking hazards or extremely spicy foods).
- Allow your child to feed him or herself, practice using utensils, and get messy. Allow them to explore food in whatever way they feel comfortable. This is how they learn to accept putting it in their mouth.
- Do not dictate for your child how much he or she should be eating. Instead, offer a small amount of each food on the plate, and let your child choose how much and which foods to eat. Do not force, punish or bribe your child to eat. Do not short order cook. Do not stress if baby doesn’t eat much at some meals; this is normal and helps them learn to respond to hunger and satiety cues.
If baby is not eating enough to promote normal growth at doctor visits, seek help from an experienced pediatric registered dietitian.