Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tips for Feeding 12-18 month olds

For me, it seems like the trickiest age for making sure my boys are getting enough to eat and that I'm giving them the right foods in the right quantities is the 9-15 month stage. At 9 months to a year, I'm still nursing, but they also start eating solid foods. It's hard to know whether to think of nursing as providing a main meal, a light snack, or just a drink (not that I'm trying to say breastmilk is "just" a drink of course).

I've wondered about it so much, in fact, that at Jack's one-year doctor check-up recently, I asked our pediatrician how to look at nursing at his age. The doctor (who has 6 young children and is very pro-nursing and attachment parenting) said at a year, nursing does not provide him enough calories to get what he needs. So the bulk of his nutrition (and appetite filling) should now be coming from meals and snacks. There's a shift there from nursing providing everything in the early months to nursing providing less (and food providing more) as far as supplying the necessary calories for growth as the baby becomes a more mobile and active toddler. 

If you've wrestled with this shift as well, and wondered if your little guy or gal is getting enough to eat (and drink), I hope the following tips will offer additional insight.

Tips for feeding a 12-to-18 month old child:

-Switch from formula (if you use it) to whole milk (the fat is necessary for brain development until age 2)
-Let your child use a spoon or hold her own cup about 6 ounces a day. Offer milk with meals and water with snacks.
-Serve bite-sized pieces that are easy to pick up (about 1/4-1/2").
-Remember as they're making a mess in their high chair that young children like to feel the texture of foods.
-Since they eat small amounts, children should eat 4-6 times a day. Plan nutritious snacks.
-Appetites can change daily. Remember, your child will eat when hungry.
-A helpful guide to gauge the portion size to give: about 1 tablespoon per year of age (I think this means one tablespoon of veggies or fruits, one tablespoon of a main dish, one tablespoon of a side dish--not one tablespoon total of all foods at a meal).

Kitchen tips for this stage:
-Lay a strong foundation for your child's mealtime habits at a very young age.
-Sit down at the table as a family. When your child is old enough, place a high chair at the family table, so he/she can be part of everything
-Allow your child to feed himself. Although this can be messy, it encourages independence and builds self-esteem. Put a vinyl cloth or newspapers under the high chair to ease clean up.

*Above tips taken from my Cent$ible Nutrition Cookbook and guide through the UW Cooperative Extension Service

Since kids usually stop eating baby food around 9-12 months and prefer more solid table food, but lack all the teeth necessary for adequate chewing, knowing what kinds of foods--and especially snacks--to give them can be challenging. I am always looking for fun new snack ideas. Here are some healthy snack ideas for kids at this age (or any age), taken from the Cent$ible Nutrition cookbook:
  • Apple wedges (peeled) and cheese cubes
  • Cut-up bran muffin and juice
  • Gingersnaps and applesauce
  • Whole grain crackers and cheese
  • Fruit cup and cheese
  • Cucumber and cottage cheese
  • Cut-up vegetables with ranch dressing
  • Cottage cheese with crushed pineapple
  • Graham crackers with milk
  • Bread sticks with spaghetti sauce
  • Oatmeal raisin cookie and milk
  • Blueberry muffin and pineapple chunks
  • Raisin bread with cream cheese
  • Partially thawed frozen strawberries (great for teething!) with milk or yogurt
  • Yogurt topped with fruit (peaches/mixed berries/bananas/etc.)
  • Cut-up orange sections and pretzel pieces (watch carefully or break them smaller)
  • Vegetable or fruit kabobs (perhaps better for an older child)
  • Halved cherry tomatoes with yogurt for dipping
I will continue posting tips for feeding young children for the next few days. We'll talk about tips for feeding older children, what to do if your child is going through a phase where he or she is not eating much, and how we can use food and meal times to teach skills. Plus, if you have any questions, being the former reporter that I am, I'll go in search of the answers for you if I don't know them, so ask away! :)

1 comment:

  1. We like to use the "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit" policy in our home. Ha Ha

    Seriously though, I think an even bigger problem than kids (in general) not getting enough to eat is whiny, selfish kids. My husband and I have determined to feed our children healthy well-rounded meals, but sometimes there will be something that is less than desireable to one or more of the children. We require a "thank you" bite and if they choose not to eat it, that is fine, but there are no second helpings of bread and no dessert. We have set this rule early and they are all fully aware of the outcome of their choices. Interestingly, I have seen all of my children eat many things they might not have because they want dessert. This tells me their "pickiness" regarding certain foods, is more rooted in what they get or don't get out of eating it, rather than true food aversion....

    As they have gotten older, a very nice outcome of our persistence (and it's not always been easy) is other adults complimenting our children on their manners and willingness to eat what is put in front of them. How rewarding (and humbling) when we realize others are watching our children when we don't realize it. None of us as parents are perfect, but I need to remember something a homeschooling mom shared recently. "My kids behavior and language refelect his/her parents, homeschooling and most importantly Christ". Now that's a motivation for us!! I think in the end, it really boils down to a heart issue more than a stomach issue.

    Thanks for the food for thought. :)

    P.S. You almost got me off on a tangent with "attachment parenting" :).