As simple as it may seem, a healthy, balanced diet is the best place to start. One thing to avoid at all costs is a crash diet!
What to feed your 1 year old
As your little one starts to grow up, you may notice they don’t have the same appetite as they used to, and they’re eating less or perhaps even rejecting food. Obviously your baby still needs to eat (richly). Toddlers need their food for energy, growth and nutrients – just like we do, sans the growth... Even more than adults, toddlers require a much wider variety of nutrients, therefore it’s always a good idea to start them early and experiment with new food groups, textures and flavours.
The foundations of food
At the start it’s hard to know how much is too much or too little. One-year olds require around 1,000 calories shared between 3 meals and 2 snacks. Although this may not always be the case, as sometimes toddlers are unpredictable and may eat mountains for breakfast but not touch dinner at all. Try to avoid giving your little one food that is spicy, salty or sugary. You want them to enjoy the natural flavours of food and this is something that will benefit their health in the long-term. All food should be cut up in small chewable pieces as your toddler is still learning to chew properly and can still be at risk of choking. Until they are about 4 years old, they won’t be able to grind and chew their food so well and that’s why they demand constant supervision when eating. Your one-year-old should actually get around half of their calorie intake from fats alone. Though it’s not advised as they grow older, children under 2 years old should not be restricted in eating fats - it’s actually recommended they eat whole-milk products and high-fat meats, such as bacon and fattier cuts of red meat. Later on they need to cut it down, but for now, they can enjoy it without your worrying.
What should you be feeding them?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest you continue to breast-feed your child up to the age of 2 or even longer. Once you decide to stop (or perhaps your little one decides it for you), it is recommended that you should give them whole milk, as it’s higher in iron, calcium and other nutrients. To start the day off you could make toast soldiers with mashed banana or a hard- boiled egg. If you want to make a chilled breakfast, you could try porridge with ripe mashed pears or wheat cereal with unsweetened stewed fruit. For lunchtime, why not try baked beans or scrambled eggs on toast, or perhaps a classic family favourite of cauliflower cheese (or broccoli) with mashed potato. When dinnertime arrives, save time and energy and make a dish that the whole family will enjoy. It’s time for one of the nation’s favourite dishes: Shepherd’s Pie with lamb or beef, and green vegetables; super nutritious and quite often a favourite amongst toddlers. Another nice simple dish is chicken and vegetable casserole with mashed potato. It is important to give your one-year old plenty of snacks too, you don’t want them to be hungry (and often grumpy!) for too long, but you don’t want to fill them up too much either. That’s where fresh fruit or cheese and bagels come in handy, as long as they are soft and cut into small pieces. For little ones with a sweet tooth, it’s a good idea to try rice pudding or porridge, which, again, you could accompany with fresh fruit for a super shot of nutrients. Just remember, your little one will have good eating days and bad ones. One day they’ll love bananas, the next, they’ll throw them on the floor – just make sure you don’t step on one and it will all be fine!