After her first birthday, there are no restrictions on what you can offer your baby. All foods are on the table...and soon to be on the floor. So in addition to new recipes, you may need new cleaning strategies and defenses. Big bibs, floor mats, and child-sized dust pans are good investments. Incorporating your toddler in clean-up is slow and frustrating, but good groundwork for getting real help in the future.
Children's palates are designed to crave the high-energy foods they need to keep going, so the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not restricting your toddler's fat and cholesterol. Also, research shows that young eaters may have more sensitive palates for evolutionary or biological reasons. For more, see http://www.parentingscience.com/picky-eaters.html.
With increased dexterity -- check out that pincer grip! -- and better control of their tongue and lips, toddlers can explore more complex foods. Their digestive systems are more developed and ready to handle all "real" foods, so the sky is the limit.
By one year old, your child can participate in three meals and two snacks a day. Your baby may turn her nose up at some of what you offer, but don't be discouraged. Offer a variety of foods and let her choose what to eat. Over time, you may see her try new things or change her mind about what she likes and doesn't like.
Here are some easy, quick toddler meal favorites:
Shred a zucchini and lightly salt. After 10 minutes, drain or wring out the excess liquid. Mix the shreds with an egg and a box of Jiffy cornbread mix. Stirring will make a batter than can be grilled as pancakes or waffles. Try dipping in whole milk yogurt!
Cook sushi rice or other short-grain rice to a sticky consistency. While still warm, stir in a scrambled egg and shape into small balls. Refrigerate and serve when set. Try other proteins or flavors mixed with the rice, too.
Mix purees into plain tomato sauce or plain yogurt to flavor new dipping sauces, and let them dip everything. Toast, pancake, cheerios, crackers, soft vegetable sticks, and fingers are great for dipping in all kinds of sauce. It can be messy, but that makes it more adventurous for young eaters -- so this is a great way to introduce new flavors or textures. Even let your young eater choose and do the mixing!
For more recipes, check out http://www.eatright.org/resources/for-toddler.
Foods to avoid:
- Potential allergens, as directed by your pediatrician.
- Choking hazards are still a concern. You will develop a sense for what your child can handle as their muscle coordination builds. Never leave a child unattended while eating, but also let them explore new textures and shapes so they learn to manipulate the food safely in their mouths.
Congratulations, you have an eater! The next stage -- negotiation and bargaining over meals -- will be here before you know it.