Feeding our third child solids went something like this in my house: "Honey, shouldn't we have started solid foods with Rosie yet? She's already three weeks past her six month birthday." Poor Rosie—destined to slip through the cracks her entire childhood! But when she could barely tolerate thinned cereal by her eleventh month, I started to worry. Was something wrong? Why was she so different from our other two kids? Turns out she did just fine in the next month, but even a veteran parent like me can worry during this important transition time.
By 12 months, my patients' most common concerns are, "You want us to stop formula and the bottle at one year of age?! Then what do we do?" Well, here's the scoop.
What's the Issue?
The transition from a mainly liquid diet at 11 months of age to a mainly solid diet at a year is a big step forward for many parents. Infant formula and breast milk are a wonderful safety net. They contain all the fat, protein, minerals, and calories a rapidly growing infant needs. At one year, we are told to pack up the bottles and the formula and move on to an adult-type diet with supplemental whole milk. Yikes! Parents ask me, "How do I make sure I am meeting my toddler's nutritional needs?"
Consider the Numbers
If you are one of the 20 percent of moms still breastfeeding at your child's one year birthday, keep it up. There are multiple studies which show benefits to both a mom (lower risk of breast cancer in one study) and baby (fewer viral infections) when breastfeeding continues into a baby's second year. And the nutritional safety net can't be beat.
But if you're not breastfeeding, you have to worry about meeting the caloric needs of your toddler. Every day, he requires:
- 1000 calories
- 500 mg of calcium
- 19 grams of fiber per day
- 1 gram per kilogram body weight of protein per day. (So, a 23-pound child needs about 10 grams of protein daily. This conversion tool can help.)
"Well, shouldn't we just follow the food pyramid?" parents ask. A look at the USDA food pyramid will tell you that there are no pyramid plans for 1-year-olds. And without one, the idea of serving size for toddlers is hard to get a grip on.