Reviewed By: Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
If you're transitioning from breastfeeding or bottles, you're likely entering uncharted territory, particularly if you're a first-time parent. Finding the right feeding scheduled for a 1-year-old can be a very confusing time. Many parents are unsure when to get rid of the bottle and what a daily feeding schedule should look like when transitioning to solid food.
We put together a comprehensive guide to help you decide on the perfect 1-year old feeding schedule for your baby. From the number of times you should feed your toddler every day to what serving sizes are suitable for their little stomachs, you can find all the information here. Hopefully, this will help you be less nervous about the transition.
How Often and At What Times Should I Feed My Toddler?
Most 1-year olds should have three meals and two snacks every day. This is an age where your toddler has high activity levels but a small stomach, which means they need to eat more often than adults to stay fueled.
It's always a good idea to offer meals and snacks at regular times every day instead of when your little one demands it. When you first introduce solids and five feedings a day, you should start with a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack on top of breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also add a third snack as needed, particularly when your little one has had a long stretch between meals.
You should develop a feeding schedule around sleeping hours. For example, very early risers may need a snack upon waking before the entire family is ready for breakfast. On the other hand, little ones who tend not to eat much at dinner or go to bed long after their last meal may need a snack before sleeping.
Being consistent is essential when it comes to both meals and snacks. By serving food at predictable times, you can ensure your little one won't become crabby because they're too hungry. Moreover, a routine makes it easy for them to know when the next meal will likely come, which means your little one won't ask for snacks constantly.
Here is a sample schedule that you can use as a starting point and adjust to suit your toddler's needs.
- 7:30 / 8:00 a.m.: Breakfast
- 10:00 / 10:30 a.m.: Morning snack
- 12:30 p.m.: Lunch
- 3:00 / 3:30 p.m.: Afternoon snack
- 5:30 / 6:00 p.m.: Dinner
If your toddler is a very early riser, you can offer them a pre-breakfast snack as soon as they wake up. A couple of whole-grain crackers with a glass of milk or a banana are good options.
On the other hand, if your toddler is a night owl and they have more than one hour in between dinner and bedtime, you may consider offering them a small snack. It's essential to keep it the same every night and make it as boring as possible, like a banana, for example, so your little one is not tempted to skip dinner because they know they are going to get an exciting snack later.
How Much Should I Feed My Toddler in One Sitting?
Just because you have established a consistent feeding routine, it doesn't mean that your toddler will always eat the same amount every day. Most toddlers are known for gobbling up one of their meals or snacks and barely nibbling at the next. Sometimes they may decide to skip a meal altogether, and it's important to remember that this is entirely normal.
So, if you're wondering how much to feed your toddler in one sitting,
the answer is as much as they need to be satisfied. It's always a good idea to start with a small helping instead of piling the plate high. Remember that your toddler's stomach is tiny, but if they're still hungry after finishing the first serving, it's absolutely fine to offer more.
Here are some typical serving sizes for one-year-olds.
- 1/2 slice of bread
- 1-3 crackers
- 1/4 cup cooked grains or pasta
- 1/2 piece of fresh fruit
- 1/4 small raw vegetable
- 1/3 cup yogurt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 -2 ounces meat
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter, spread thinly
If the serving sizes above look very small to you, remember that a toddler's stomach is approximately 1/4 the size of an adult's stomach. This means that they are likely to be satisfied with those serving sizes. You should use them as a starting point for figuring out your little one's needs, and it's essential to keep in mind that every child is different and so are their feeding needs.
How Much Should My Toddler Eat?
You might be surprised to know that your child actually knows how much they need to eat. Children are intuitive eaters, meaning they eat when they're hungry and typically stop when they're full. Your toddler may appear to eat what looks like a very small amount of food, particularly when you compare them with adult servings. However, this doesn't mean that they aren't eating enough.
How Do I Know If My Toddler Is Eating Enough?
If your child is growing well, this means that you have nothing to worry about because they are getting enough to eat. To make sure that your little one is eating enough, you should try and offer all the food groups at every meal so you can make sure they get all the nutrients they need.
What should I do if my toddler refuses to eat?
If your little one isn't in the mood to eat their meal or snack, try to resist the urge to pressure them into eating past the point where they become full. This is something that can really backfire because it teaches them to ignore their fullness signals, which can lead to overeating and weight gain later in life.
However, if you find that your 1-year old isn't interested in eating constantly, you should track how much juice or milk they're drinking because a high amount of liquid may be filling them up, so they're not hungry when you're offering them a meal or snack.
It's always important to consider the big picture because if your little one eats a variety of healthy foods in general, you shouldn't worry when they are not interested in some meals or snacks. If your child is developing on track, gaining weight, and is energetic and active, then you can be sure they are getting enough to eat.
What to feed a 1-year-old?
One-year-olds discover the world at a fast pace, so most parents are likely to be worried about whether they're feeding them right.
When you have so much going on, you may wonder what foods are most suitable for a one-year-old. Here are some ideas categorized by food groups.
A one-year-old should be able to manage lumpy, chopped, mashed or finger foods. You can cook the vegetables to soften them where necessary or offer them as finger foods or chopped.
Vegetables suitable for 1-year olds include:
- butternut squash
- green beans
Just like with vegetables, your little one should be able to manage lumpy, chopped, and finger fruits. Make sure you wash the fruit and remove any hard skin and stones.
Examples of fruits your one-year-old may enjoy include:
You can cook starchy foods as necessary and offer them chopped, mashed or as finger foods. If your little one is over 12 months old, you can mix cereals with pasteurized cow's milk. Otherwise, it's OK to mix it with breast milk.
Examples of starchy foods include:
- baby rice
- pitta bread
- sweet potato
This group of food is essential for your little one's growth and includes meat, eggs, fish, beans and pulses. Protein foods can be introduced into a baby's diet from six months.
Besides being good sources of protein, these foods also contain other nutrients, such as zinc or iron, which are vital for the development of babies.
Protein foods include:
- fish (without bones)
- pulses, such as chickpeas
Pasteurized dairy foods such as pasteurized cheese and full-fat yogurt are suitable for babies at around six months.
Unsweetened, full-fat, and plain yogurts are perfect for babies because they don't contain added sugars. You can use pasteurized cow's milk in cooking from around six months. However, you should not offer it as a drink until your little one is one year old.
What else to consider?
- You can continue breastfeeding your little one as long as you both want.
- Toddlers don't need sugar or salt added to their food. Sugar may cause tooth decay, while salty foods aren't good for their kidneys.
- Sweet drinks such as fizzy drinks, fruit juice, and milkshakes are not suitable for babies because they contain a lot of sugar and may lead to tooth decay.
One-year-olds are at the age where they're experimenting with learning to sense hunger and fullness, feeding themselves, and asserting their independence. This is the age of multiple developmental milestones, so paying particular attention to nutrition is essential.
As a parent, navigating this period of change and growth is not easy. The good news is that there are numerous practical and healthy foods you can offer your one-year-old, including steamed vegetables, soft fruits, eggs, tofu, and more.
It's always a good idea to introduce foods one at a time and in small amounts. By doing so, you can watch for any intolerances and stop feeding the baby a particular food if you notice they don't like it or even worse, are allergic to it.
Don't forget that the appetite of babies and toddlers is not always linear. Moreover, little ones may need repeated exposure to a new food to accept it in their diet, so don't give up on anything after just one try.
The content and advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment, advice for specific medical conditions. Always consult a pediatrician to understand the individual needs of your child.