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HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES FOR A 1 to 2 YEAR OLD
DR. DAVID HILL: Today, we're going to talk about what to feed your one to two-year-old child. This is a very exciting time for kids and food. They're growing teeth, which means they can explore new flavors and textures. They're also getting new skills, so that by age 18 months, they can begin using a fork and a spoon. At the same time, it could be very challenging time. Children in this age group are not eating as much as they were when they were infants and parents often worried that their children aren't consuming enough calories at this point. They're going to want to eat at least three scheduled meals and two to three scheduled snacks during the day. And remember, portion size is at this age are quite small, usually around a half cup. What to drink is very important at this age. You want to move from formula or nursing toward a whole milk.
Although it's okay to nurse as long as you and the baby are both enjoying it. You want to get about one or two cups of whole milk a day but not to exceed three cups of whole milk because that may put your child at risk for Iron Deficiency Anemia. It's also very important to get rid of bottles at this point. Now that your child has teeth, the bottle can lead to very serious toot decay. Juice is lovely, but you really want to hold it to about four ounces of juice a day, ideally 100% real fruit juice. Water is great in the meantime. It's a good time to start your child on the habit of drinking water.
Choking is a significant risk for children in this age group. You want to look out for any food that could pose a choking risk. Examples include whole grapes, hotdogs, carrot pieces, nuts, raisins and other foods that remain sort of whole in ball shape when the child eats them. Don't get into food battles with your child at this age. Provide healthy choices. Lots of fruits and vegetables, low-fat proteins, two servings a day of dairy and then let the child choose which they're going to eat and which they're not going to eat. They will eventually learn to like a lot of different foods if you keep presenting them but it may take up to 15 attempts to get a child to eat a food he hasn't tried before.
A good idea is to pair that with the food that he does like and he might make a positive association between the two. If you reward or punish eating behavior, it's going to set up a dynamic that can lead to bad eating habits for the rest of his life. So, to review, between ages one and two, children are exploring and discovering a lot of new foods and textures. They're moving from nursing or formula to about two cups a day of whole cow's milk. They need no bottles whatsoever, and very little juice and they need to be aware of the risk for choking. Finally, be sure that you don't get into food fights with you child. They're going to win. That is how to feed your one to two-year-old child.