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Feeding a one year old is tricky. They are way past purees and baby food, but they aren’t quite ready to chow down on the meals you make for yourself. Then of course, there’s the fact that toddlers are very unpredictable when it comes to food. One day they’ll love bananas, and the next they’ll look at you like you’re crazy for offering them such a horrific item to consume.
Despite your child’s erratic behavior towards food, there’s loads and loads of research as to why you should continue to press on, offering your child a balanced diet with variety. For me personally, Emma’s pickiness with food pushed me to get in a rut when it came to introducing new foods to her diet, and it wasn’t until I did some research and pulled together a master meal list for toddlers that I started to see her expand her palette.
How often should a one year old eat?
When Emma turned one it was like overnight her pickiness doubled and her appetite seemed to drop off a cliff. I thought something was wrong until I did a bunch of research and read that because growth slows down considerably around the time babies reach their first birthday, it’s totally normal to witness a sharp drop in appetite. (source)
A typical one year old needs about 1,000 calories to grow and thrive. And because of their decreased rate of growth, it’s best to stick with three smaller meals and two snacks each day.
What types of food should be incorporated into a one year old’s diet?
- Protein: meat, chicken, fish, eggs
- Healthy fats: avocado, chia seeds, fish (salmon, sardines), egg yolks
- Milk: Yogurt, cheese, whole milk, cottage cheese
- Grains: Whole wheat bread, pasta, crackers
- Fruits and veggies: Banana, apple, berries, green beans, peas, carrots, etc.
If you’re in a rut with feeding your toddler, here’s 55 sample menu ideas to inspire your child’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack times.
Breakfast meal ideas for a one year old
- Banana pancakes, yogurt
- Cottage cheese, blackberries, dry cereal
- Scrambled eggs, strawberries, toast
- Whole wheat waffles, grapes
- Hard boiled egg, toast with peanut butter + orange slices
- Oatmeal, toast, raspberries
- Avocado toast, strawberries, yogurt
- Overnight oats
- Mashed sweet potato over toast, berries
Snack ideas for a one year old
- Yogurt with bits of banana and strawberries
- Hummus and whole wheat crackers
- Avocados and cheese
- Cherrios/puffs, banana
- Veggie straws and hummus
- Cottage cheese and orange slices
- Nut butter on toast
On-the-go snack ideas for a one year old
- Cheese and whole wheat crackers
- Bananas and nut butter/peanut butter
- Apple chips
- Yogurt pouches
- Hard boiled egg and hummus
- Orange slices
- Applesauce pouches
- Single serve guacamole packets and whole wheat crackers
- Veggie straws
Lunch meal ideas for a one year old
- Hard boiled egg, steamed broccoli, toast with peanut butter
- Cheese, bean, chopped veggies and chicken quesadillas, orange slices
- Salmon puree with olive oil spread on toast, strawberries
- Zucchini bread, grapes, cheese cubes
- Steamed tilapia, corn bread, sweet potato
- Fish sticks, pears, zucchini
- Quiche with ham and veggies, cooked apples
- Spaghetti with meat sauce, steamed (very soft) cauliflower
- Toast with hummus, tomato soup, raspberries
- Veggie burger, potato, grapes
Dinner ideas for a one year old
- Scrambled eggs in a whole wheat pita, berries, butternut squash
- Grilled cheese on whole wheat bread, yogurt with berries, steamed broccoli
- Meatballs, noodles, peas
- Mac and cheese, broccoli, cooked diced apples
- Spinach and cheese tortellini, grapes, steamed carrots
- Roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, green beans
- Turkey burger, corn, pears
- Baked potato with cheese, applesauce, avocado
- Hard boiled egg, hummus, whole wheat pasta, peaches
- Salmon, brown rice, black beans, cucumbers
Tips for bringing toddler’s lunch to daycare
Coming up with a lunch idea to bring to daycare that doesn’t need reheating can be challenging. I found these kids’ bento boxes and packing lunch is so easy now, plus i’m not running around in the morning trying to find a million little containers.
A few times in a time crunch I loaded up Emma’s lunch box with foods she hadn’t tried before. I guess you live and learn because that was a huge mistake. Now I only put foods in her lunch box that she really loves. For whatever reason, I find her to be less adventurous with food items at daycare.
Keep in mind that their appetite will fluctuate, so don’t get stressed out if they don’t eat everything you bring. I always ask for a report on what she ate so I can prepare for how hungry she might be for dinner.
To make things on myself much easier, I typically save breakfast or dinner leftovers (if they don’t need to be reheated) for her lunches. This way, I’m not scurrying around in the morning.
Here’s some of my go to toddler lunches for daycare:
- Hard boiled egg, whole wheat crackers, sliced strawberries, cucumbers
- PBJ (peanut butter spread thinly and pureed strawberries/raspberries), hummus, carrots
- Turkey and cheese sandwich in a whole wheat pita, raspberries,
- Applesauce muffins, avocado, cheese
- Veggie rotini, orange slices, egg salad, grapes
- Hummus on toast, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, grated carrots
Foods associated with choking risks
- Grapes should be cut in half lengthwise and quartered
- Hotdogs should be cut in half lengthwise and then cut into smaller pieces
- Nuts and seeds should really be avoided as toddlers don’t have the ability to grind food
- Vegetables should be soft and easy to manipulate
- Peanut butter should only be spread thinly on toast or fruit, as gobs of peanut butter are unsafe
- Meats and cheeses should be cut in very small pieces
How much milk should a one year old drink each day?
Up until your baby’s first birthday, milk was where they got the vast majority of their calories from. But as they enter into toddlerhood and begin to eat more real food, the recommended amount of milk they need to thrive is different.
The AAP recommends that at age 1 your child get 2 cups (16 oz) of whole milk per day. This is a pretty big difference from what your baby was likely getting prior to their first birthday, and you certainly don’t need to half their milk intake overnight, but it is recommended that you start tapering it off.
Two cups of whole milk is advised because a recent study found that anymore than that has been shown to decrease iron stores in toddlers. Essentially, you want to watch their milk intake so that they aren’t filling up on milk and getting too full that they don’t want actual food.
How much water should a one year old drink each day?
Your one year old should be drinking about 44 ounces of water each day. (Source) When I read this it seemed like a whole lot of water, since before Emma turned one she was getting the vast majority of her water requirements from a combination of breastmilk and formula each day. Keep in mind that toddlers do typically get 20% of their water from fruits and veggies, too.
Plate, flatware and sippee cups to feed a one year old
Not only do these plates wash well but they also have a suction feature so you’re little tot can’t just flip the plate over mid meal!
These utensils are super cute and really great for toddlers to practice with.
On-the go snacking is going to happen and these containers work really well!
You’ll save a ton of money when you buy larger quantities of applesauce and yogurt and use these reusable pouches. These also work well for smoothies, too.
These sippee cups are awesome! If your tot is having a hard time learning how to drink out of a sippee cup, I highly recommend these!