Food for 1 Year Old Baby - Food Guide

Baby Feeding at Twelve Months

Hooray, it’s your birthday!

Most parents view their baby’s first birthday as a real milestone. You’ll find yourself reflecting on how quickly the last 12 months as gone. Be prepared too for some feelings of sadness, as well as joy. Your baby is not so small now and a lot has happened in one short year.

After the first birthday, babies are officially known as toddlers. With this name change, a host of other changes happen too.

Helpful Tips for Feeding Your Twelve Month Old

If your baby attends day care, make sure you pack a healthy lunch and snacks. If food is provided, clarify that it fits with the healthy food guidelines for early childhood services.  Try not to compare your own child’s intake with others of the same age. Gender, environment, genetics and activity level all play a role in determining appetite. When children are going through rapid growth spurts they eat more; when their growth slows down they don’t need as much. Well, healthy and thriving children do not have problems knowing how much they need to eat.

Follow your child’s hunger cues and signs that they are full and have eaten enough. Rather than looking at specific portion sizes, what’s important is to be responsive and sensitive to your child’s behaviour.

Hunger Signs:

  • Asking for food, especially if it’s been a few hours since they’ve eaten
  • Reaching or looking for food
  • Pointing to the fridge
  • Crying, being unsettled or, not interested in playing
  • When they’re not satisfied with the amount of food they’ve eaten. Leaning forward in the highchair, swallowing food quickly, protesting, reaching out for the spoon and not being satisfied at the end of a meal are all signs of needing more food.

Signs of Fullness:

  • Becoming disinterested with eating
  • Closing their mouth, turning away from the spoon or plate
  • Pushing the spoon or food away
  • Dropping food from the tray of their highchair and becoming distracted
  • Crying and resisting sitting for any longer

Breastfeeding and Solids

Breastfeeding certainly has a place in the life of a 12 month old.  In fact some babies of this age revert to more frequent breastfeeding if they need comfort. At twelve months of age, around 3-4 breastfeeds in 24 hours is enough. 

Should I Offer My 1 Year Old Formula?

It is also worthwhile to offer your baby toddler milk in a cup. It can be hard to persuade a happy one year old breast-feeder to drink milk from a cup as breast milk and cow’s milk taste very different to each other. In saying this, one way to help them adjust is to offer expressed breast milk first in a sipper cup, until they become used to the cup.  Then, offer toddler milk instead. Some babies only learn to accept cow’s milk from a cup when they stop breastfeeding and it becomes their only option.

Bottle Feeding and Solids

Three to four serves of milk a day at 12 months is ideal. This can either be in liquid form e.g. in a bottle or a cup or, in solid form such as cheese or yoghurt. White and cheese sauces as well as butter are alternative ways of boosting milk intake.

At 12 months you can work towards ceasing using baby’s bottles and offering all fluids including toddler milk in a straw or sipper cup.  Keep holding your baby in your arms if they’re having a bottle. Emotional connections and pathways are formed through cuddling and close physical contact.

What Foods Should I Be Offering My 12 Month Old?

Aim each day to be offering your 1 year old 1-2 serves of fruit, 1-2 serves of vegetables, a serve of lean meat/fish/poultry or eggs, 3-4 serves of milk and a couple of serves of cereal or bread.  Some days your 12 month old will be ravenous and other days may seem to barely eat. What’s important is their overall intake over a few days and a balance of healthy and nutritious foods from various sources. Always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional for advice and guidance on your one year old baby’s individual feeding needs, especially if you ever have any concerns about your baby's diet or weight gain.

When choosing the convenience of packaged foods or pouches, always be sure to carefully check the labels and avoid any products that are not organic, or contain anything artificial. Twelve month olds need to chew their food before swallowing, so make sure any product has the right consistency suitable for 12 months and above. Avoid foods that are too pureed and don’t encourage chewing.

Tips for Feeding Your 12 Month Old

  1. Talk about the foods your 12 month old is eating. Tell them what’s on offer and describe in a simple way, what’s special about it. At 12 months your baby’s vocabulary will expand from simple sounds to words.
  2. Try to time meals before your 12 month old has their sleeps. Reduce the risk of them waking early because they’re hungry.
  3. Offer protein in at least 2 of 3 main meals each day. At this age and stage, your baby needs protein and iron to fuel their crawling and walking.
  4. Be prepared for emotional outbursts if your 12 month old doesn’t like what food you’re offering. A growing sense of independence and need for control often results in tears at mealtimes. Look for compromise and keeping the peace.

Food Safety and Your 12 Month Old Baby

Give your 12 month old their own child-friendly cutlery to eat with.

Always remember to restrain your 12 month old in their highchair for meals. Otherwise, position a small children’s stool at an equally small table. Wandering around during meals removes the focus of eating.

Remember

Always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional for advice and guidance on your twelve month old baby’s individual feeding needs.