Tiny Feeding Guide: 12 - 18 Months | Tiny Organics

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Tiny Feeding Guide: 12 - 18 Months

  • At about this age some toddlers begin to show tendencies for picky eating, becoming selective about what they’ll eat.
  • Research shows it can take up to 10 or more times for a child to accept a new flavor, and that number only goes up the older a child is. 
  • Most parents say that if their child rejects a food on 3-5 occasions, they give up and don’t offer it again. But according to research, this is simply not enough to change preferences. 
  • Think about their food consumption more on a week-to-week basis than on a day-to-day basis. 
  • While you may worry that your little one isn't getting enough protein, it’s actually pretty easy for kids to meet their daily protein needs, which is about 13-16 grams per day at this age. 

 

Congratulations! Your baby has taken one whole lap around the sun! She has officially made the transition to toddler, and hopefully, food continues to be a fun learning experience for both of you.

Development at this age...

All little ones are different, but most toddlers eat finger foods by this age. Some signs of readiness include:

  • Doesn’t choke or gag when she eats solids and/or chunky purees
  • Eats finger foods by himself without needing to be fed
  • Feeds herself with a spoon
  • Show interest in adult meals
  • Enjoys food in a variety of flavors and textures

At about this age some toddlers begin to show tendencies for picky eating, becoming selective about what they’ll eat. But picky eating is not merely saying “no” to new foods. Kids (and adults) can have opinions of what they like or dislike, and that’s not necessarily picky! Nutritionists consider children to be picky when they begin to reject foods they once enjoyed or the number of foods they will eat is reduced to a small number.

When this happens, try not to give in – continue to offer a variety of foods while keeping mealtimes fun and stress-free. Don’t worry if (or when!) your child rejects some of the choices, just keep offering them without force. Research shows it can take up to 10 or more times for a child to accept a new flavor, and that number only goes up the older a child is. That may sound daunting and even impossible, but don’t give up! The key is to be persistent and patient and offer a tiny (pun intended ;) bit of the food multiple times. Most parents say that if their child rejects a food on 3-5 occasions, they give up and don’t offer it again. But according to research, this is simply not enough to change preferences.

Other strategies include allowing your little one to accompany you on food shopping trips and help make choices at the store. Allow them to watch and even help you prepare food. Be a good role model when it comes to trying a variety of foods as well as table manners. According to expert Bee Wilson, “The main way we learn to like foods is simply by trying them. Affection is triggered by familiarity. Even if some of us take longer to warm up to vegetables than others, likes and dislikes are NOT predetermined. You can teach your children not just to eat vegetables but to love them.” Also, did you know that showing pictures of unfamiliar vegetables to your little one can increase her willingness to taste them.

How much?

Appetites vary significantly at this stage, so the guidelines are very general. Feed your toddler ¼ to ½ cup of solid foods four to six times per day. Or in other words, three meals and two snacks. Keep in mind that toddlers often eat voraciously one day and hardly at all the next. This is totally normal. Think about their food consumption more on a week-to-week basis than on a day-to-day basis. If your child is still breastfeeding, offer breastmilk as a supplement to whole foods.

Speaking of breastmilk and formula… your child may not need breastmilk or formula for nutritional value like he did during the first year, and continuing to breastfeed at this stage is your own choice (it does still offer nutrition and immune properties, and comfort.) Follow your gut and make the best decision for YOURSELF and your baby. Either way, this is the time to introduce milk to your toddler as she moves away from the bottle. This can include either dairy or non-dairy options.

Good foods for this age

Offer meals that contain nutritious whole foods, like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, meats, herbs and spices. Many toddlers develop a preference for "white" foods, like pasta and rice. While you may worry that your little one isn't getting enough protein, it’s actually pretty easy for kids to meet their daily protein needs, which is about 13-16 grams per day at this age. There are many protein- and iron-rich vegetarian options, as well, if you are raising a vegetarian or vegan baby.

Here are some good protein sources for your toddler:

  • 1 egg – 6 grams
  • 1 c. yogurt – 8 grams
  • ¼ c. beans – 3 grams
  • 1 oz chicken – 7 grams
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter – 4 grams
  • ½ c. quinoa – 4 grams
  • ½ avocado – 2 grams
  • ½ c. cooked broccoli – 2 grams