12 Months: Expanding Culinary Horizons
What to Feed
By 1 year Baby should be comfortably eating table food. A good guideline at this age is to serve one tablespoon of each food -- prepared to a texture and size that is easily swallowed -- at each meal. As long as your child takes in a variety of healthful choices when he eats, consuming these amounts should meet his protein, energy, and vitamin needs.
Breastfeeding may continue at this age, but whole milk is a very important part of a 1-year-old diet as well. "Children under two need whole milk for brain, bone, and nervous system development," explains Greer. Don't be concerned about the fat content in whole milk -- babies need it. Focus instead on good eating habits overall. Don't offer too many fried foods or sweets that are high in fat, and give your tot nutritious snacks like fresh fruit or graham crackers. Offer 100 percent whole-wheat bread or whole grains instead of white bread.
What's Going on at This Stage
"Babies are learning about taste and texture, as taste buds and swallowing skills come together between 12 and 18 months," says Janice E. Stuff, Ph.D., R.D., of the USDA/Agricultural Research Service at the Children's Nutrition Research Center, in Houston. "So if your child rejects a certain food, try again later. Or, if she's pushing food around, it means she's had enough. Put her plate aside -- in an hour she may want it again."
Studies show that babies eat when they're hungry and don't eat when they're not. "Children have a wonderful ability to self-regulate," Zanecosky says. "You really have to listen to their cues. If they're not hungry, don't force them to eat, even if it's inconvenient for you. Bring portable food with you for them to eat later."
What to Watch Out For
If, like many kids, Baby rejects vegetables, you can substitute fruits, which have many of the same nutrients. For example, both zucchini and cantaloupe are good sources of vitamin A. Start with the zucchini on the plate but keep cantaloupe available as a backup.