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Easy Feeding Guide: What One Year Olds Eat

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Inside: What do one year old’s eat? Here’s a helpful guide to explain what one-year-old’s need to eat and how to feed them. You’ll leave feeling confident you know how to feed your child well.

If you’re struggling through the feeding transition between babies and toddlers, you’ve come to the right place! Babies start out having their very own type of food and then somehow, we need to get them to eating whatever we’re eating. That can be a bumpy and messy process!

Although it may seem overwhelming at first, I’ll show you a few tricks you can use, to make it easy to put together foods for your one-year-old.

How Does Being One Affect How One Year Olds Eat?

One-year-olds are special kiddos. They are learning so many things. Walking and talking is coming down the road for them and they are learning to use their hands. We can use these important developmental skills to our advantage while we are feeding them.

One-year-olds have a pincer grasp, which means they can now grip food between their forefinger and thumb. They can pick up small things, like pieces of food and put them into their mouths. They want to use that grasp, and we want them to eat, so it’s a great time to transition them to table food if you haven’t already.

“Table food” is solid food that the family is eating that is safe for your little one (chopped into small pieces).

If you’re toddler isn’t eating, that’s also normal! Toddlers begin to change their eating habits and many develop a fear of foods.

Related: Get your Picky Toddler on the Road to Eating More Foods

Example of what a one year old eats: tiny peanut butter sandwich bites, small slices of grapefruit, 3 pieces of purple cabbage cut into flowers and 3 small pieces of celery

What Balanced Meals Do One Year Olds Eat?

One-year-olds have very small stomachs, so it’s important to use every bite wisely! Toddlers need plenty of iron-containing foods as well as dark green and orange foods to help them get all of their needed nutrients.

Toddlers also need plenty of fat for their brain development. They need protein and energy to help with their growth.

Choose less processed foods for your one-year-old whenever possible, to help them get all the nutrients they need.

Here’s a meal formula that you can use for meals and snacks when you’re thinking about what to feed your toddler:

Protein food + fat source + fruit and/or veggie + energy food = balanced meal

Need meal ideas for your one-year-old that the whole family can enjoy? Check out my Real Easy Weekdays meal plan.

Protein foods that your one year old can eat (when cooked soft)

Here are few ideas for protein foods that your one-year-old can eat. Make sure they are cooked soft and diced or served in safe ways, so that they are safe.

  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Beans (cooked soft)
  • Hummus
  • Lentils
  • Peanut butter or nut/seed butters (spread thinly on bread)
  • Dairy
  • Tofu
  • Ground nuts or seeds mixed into other foods like yogurt or applesauce

Make sure there is a protein food available at every meal and snack.

A meal plan with non meat sources of protein for what one year olds eat. 1. Eggs, fruit, vegetables & toast. 2. Date ball & Bell peppers 3. PB&J with apples & carrot stars 4. Protein packed muffin & fruit. 5. Pasta with lentil tomato sauce & broccoli 6. Yogurt & strawberries

Fat sources that your one year old can eat

Here are a few ideas for fat sources for your one-year-old. Adding fat to your cooking will help their bodies absorb fat soluble vitamins, as well as help them get enough fat for their brain development.

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Fatty fish (salmon, sardines)
  • Avocado
  • Full-fat dairy
  • Nut and seed butters spread thinly on bread or mixed into other foods

Fruits and veggies to focus on for one year old’s

Any and all fruits and veggies can be helpful for making a balanced diet for your one-year-old. We especially want to make sure they are being offered orange and dark green veggies daily. Here’s a quick list of some common orange and dark green veggies. These should all be served to one-year-old’s cooked and soft enough to squish between a thumb and forefinger.

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Broccoli
  • Cooked greens

Additionally, making sure you are serving plenty of fruits and veggies that have Vitamin C are really important. Vitamin C helps your child absorb iron into their body.

Try your best to add on a fruit or veggie (or both) at every meal and snack.

Image with food pairings with vitamin c which increases iron absorption in what one year olds eat. 1. Peanut butter & Watermelon 2. Chicken & Strawberries 3. Fortified O's cereal & oranges 4. Spinach & Mango 5. Beans & Kiwi 6. Raisins & Pineapple

Energy foods that one year old’s eat

Energy foods are foods that give kids energy – like grains, starchy veggies, and fruits. It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeding toddlers JUST crackers or o’s cereal for snack. This fills their bellies up, but doesn’t leave much room for more nutrient dense foods.

Nutrient dense means there are a lot of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in a small amount of food.

Some energy foods are more nutrient dense than other foods, having a balance of energy foods can be helpful. Here are some common energy foods for one-year-olds.

  • Quinoa
  • Oats (cooked)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans/peas/lentils
  • White potatoes
  • Rice (prefer white rice for small children to reduce their exposure to arsenic)
  • Bread
  • Soft dried fruit that has been cut into small pieces half the size of a pinky finger, or cooked and softened, or cooked into things
  • Homemade muffins

Free Child Feeding Guide: From Stress to Success: 4 Ways to Help Your Child Eat Better Without Losing Your Mind

Preventing Choking When Deciding What to Serve Your One Year Old

When deciding what your one-year-old will eat, make sure that you are not serving any choking hazards.

The most common choking hazards according to the CDC are:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Whole grapes and cherry tomatoes
  • Large pieces of raw fruits and veggies
  • Popcorn
  • Chips
  • Whole nuts and seeds
  • Tough meat
  • Chunks of nut butters
  • Hot dogs and sausages
  • Chunks of cheese
  • Gum
  • Hard candy, chewy candy

To prevent choking:

  • Modify – soften or dice
  • Sit – make sure your child is sitting in a chair while eating
  • Avoid some foods that cannot be modified
  • Be prepared if something does happen

What Do One Year Olds Eat?

Here is a sample menu of what a one year old can be served in a day. I have NOT included portion sizes here. Why not? Because it’s your child’s job to decide how much to eat. Start with small portions – about 1 tablespoon of each type of food on their tray or plate. Watch them to know when they want more of a specific type of food.

Sample menu

Below is a basic sample menu for a one-year-old. Your child may eat more or less often than this and that is okay! Every child is different.

Breakfast: Oatmeal made with coconut oil and some peanut butter mixed in, served with whole milk and strawberries

Morning Snack: frozen peas cooked mixed with butter, shredded apple

Lunch: Bread with almond butter, frozen carrots cooked mixed with olive oil,

Afternoon Snack: Diced avocado, o’s cereal,

Dinner: Soft-cooked chicken, rice mixed with butter, steamed broccoli tossed with olive oil, full-fat milk

I Have Feeding Problems Beyond What to Give my One Year Old to Eat

Deciding what to feed your one year old is only half the battle right?

If you are experiencing any of the following, here is more help!

What is your one year old’s favorite food? Let me know in the comments below!

Alysha Fagan

Alysha is the Program Manager for Kids Eat in Color. She leads initiatives and creates content to helps caregivers reduce stress and help their kids thrive at mealtime. Prior to joining Kids Eat in Color, Alysha project managed and built high-performance Customer Service teams for Top corporations. She is currently working towards a political science degree to fulfill her passion of advocating for systemic change in government. She enjoys being a mom, lifting weights (you heard that right!), and writing

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Erin

    Thank you, thank you! We’re in this one year old transition phase and this article is so reassuring.

  2. Anita

    Thanks! One year olds favourite food is blueberries (cut in half) or yoghurt.

  3. Colleen

    My one year old is really into chickpea pasta. What is your opinion about chickpea and lentil pasta? Is it ok?

  4. Kendria

    My 1 year olds favorite food is blueberries, then kiwi and avocado. She rejects most everything else. Her father and I are exhausted. Oh, and she’s still nursing on demand.

  5. Elizabeth

    My 1 year old won’t eat green veggies. He just picks them up and drops them on the floor. He won’t even attempt to eat them. If I hide them in food (eggs or muffins) or cover them in tomato sauce, he will eat them. How do I encourage and expose him to green veggies if he keeps dropping them on the floor?

  6. Sheryl

    Favorite food – mandarin oranges. Any kind of berry is a hit. Only veggies right now are sweet potatoes and green peas. He also really likes eating dirt. For meat, he’ll eat ham lunch meat, diced chicken, and hamburger. He really doesn’t like eggs and is highly variable on whether he’ll eat bread, pasta, or crackers.

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