What to Feed a One Year Old
Jillian Ondreyka, MPH, RDN, IFNCP, IBCLC
Are you thinking what to feed a 1 year old? Well, we have some ideas that double as picky eating prevention tips. Talk about a win-win! You are at a very special time where kids will eat anything. So take advantage!
1. Offer a wide variety of foods right from the start
First, research shows that the more times kids are exposed to foods, the more likely they are to like and eat the foods both now and when they are older. So what to feed a 1 year old? Offer lots of different kids of foods. Remember, most babies are likely to need to taste it a few times to accept it. This is normal, so keep offering foods over 10 times!
2. Don’t pressure kids to eat
Second, multiple studies like this one and this one actually show that pressuring kids to eat backfires and leads to them eating less or forming negative associations with food. So that means, try your best not to beg them to take another bite, clean their plate, or force food into their mouth.
3. Make one meal
We understand family meals are not always a possibility and you often just need to serve kids their own food. However, whenever you can try to just serve one meal for everyone and not make separate meals for your baby. In fact, this is possible from your baby’s first bites! The earlier you get into the habit and your child understands there is just one meal and they won’t get an alternative, the better. Best of all, there is no need to be a short order cook.
4. Set a schedule
Next, offering meals and snacks on a regular schedule actually encourages kids to eat better! For instance, good eating pattern for young kids is eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day. Ask your Fooblie coach for a more specific schedule. Moreover, if you are worried your little one will go to bed hungry, this is the step to focus on. If you trust your schedules, and sticking to it, you will be confident your child is getting the right amount.
5. Be a good role model
Kids are always watching, and you have probably experienced them mimicking your behaviors. Specifically, studies have shown that kids will eat more fruits and vegetables when they see parents eat more fruits and vegetables. Try new foods with your baby and describe what you like about them (i.e. the color, texture, aroma, etc.). This will help keep the experience positive and help your kids be more open to new foods and experiences. They may not talk yet, but they are soaking it all in!
6. Make mealtime a priority
Turn off distractions like the TV or phones until the meal is over. Benefits of family dinners may include better academic performance, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of obesity. Even when your baby is little you can set the mood for mealtime. As a result, this encourages us to listen to our bodies and our own hunger and fullness cues.
7. Offer healthy choices
Your baby doesn’t know what healthy is yet. So what to feed a 1 year old? Try the things you think they won’t like, from broccoli to mushrooms it is all fair game! In other words, you are at a special time where you are setting your baby’s palate for later in life. If they register a food now in their brain they are more likely to eat it when they hit the terrible twos. (Trust us, it’s a thing.)
8. Involve kids in the meals
Up next, get your kids involved in the cooking process. Yup! Even when they are 1! Talk about the food you are making to help your baby get excited about tasting new foods. For your 1 year old this could be holding spoons, watching the blender and even helping with the dishes (we mean playing in water).
9. Make food taste good
For the most part, the predictive factor of kids liking foods is the way it tastes. You can try cooking the foods in different ways to change the taste. As adults we need more spice and salt, but it doesn’t mean your baby’s food should be bland! Therefore, feel empowered to experiment with flavors.
10. It’s more about the HOW
Last, we know this article is about what to feed a 1 year old, but we think the how is even more important. It’s ok to make food fun! You might be surprised by how much your baby will love foods cut in fun shapes or put on their tray in a fun way that looks like a heart or animal.