Bye bye baby food: your toddler is now tucking into increasingly grown-up meals, so here’s how to cater for her changing appetite
As your baby reaches her first birthday, those first tastes of puree probably seem a distant memory. Now that she’s one, the list of safe foods that your baby can enjoy has expanded even more. As well as adding new ingredients such as honey, lightly cooked eggs and unpasteurised cheeses to her diet, you’ll probably also find that you can now dish up toddler portions of your favourite family meals for her to tuck into. And not only does this make it easier to prepare food at home, but it also takes the stress out of feeding on the go, whether you choose your baby her own meal from a children’s menu or let her share your dinner.
At 12 months, you can also make the switch from formula or breastmilk to full fat cow’s milk, as your baby is now getting most of her calories, iron and other nutrients from the foods she eats. She’ll still need the equivalent of 300ml of milk a day, but this needn’t all be as a drink; yoghurts, cheese, milk on cereals and in sauces and milky puddings will all help her meet her calcium quota.
The weaning process may be almost complete, but there are still many milestones to look forward to. Over the coming months and years, you can expect your baby to become more adept at feeding herself, join in with family mealtimes, and complete the switch from bottles to cups. And before you know it, you’ll be packing her lunchbox for her first day at school, safe in the knowledge that you’ve raised a confident and happy eater.
Fussy eating is usually a passing fad, but watch out for signs that it could become a serious problem, for example if your child seems lethargic, is losing weight, or displays severe anxiety around eating, such as making herself sick. Speak to your health visitor if you have concerns.
Beyond your child’s first birthday, it’s likely that you’ll become more relaxed about what she eats. But while we all love the convenience of dishing up a ready-made meal or keeping our kids happy between meals with a biscuit or two, good nutrition is just as important now as it was when you were first weaning.
Your toddler’s nutritional needs are changing as she grows and develops, so make sure you’re giving her plenty of good foods for energy. Every meal should include some protein (such as meat, fish, eggs or pulses), carbohydrates (potatoes, bread, pasta, rice) and at least one portion of fruit and veg. Try to keep salty and sugary foods to a minimum, and make sure that you’re giving her plenty of drinks – ideally water – to keep her well hydrated. By all means give her the occasional treat, but if you can follow the basics of good nutrition 80 per cent of the time, you’ll not only be keeping her healthy, but also raising her to have a healthy attitude to food.
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