Your Toddler's New Drink Menu
After her first birthday, you can introduce your toddler to whole milk or a toddler milk drink. Sixteen ounces of whole milk a day is normal. Try four 4 fl oz servings a day with meals or snacks. This will help give her the calcium she needs for her growing bones.
There are also nutritious alternatives to whole milk available that help promote your toddler's development while delivering nutrition that milk lacks. These products supply her with the calcium and vitamin D in milk, but also give her iron, prebiotics, vitamin C, vitamin E and DHA. You may remember that DHA is a fatty acid found in breast milk that supports your child's brain and eye development. In addition to milk or milk drinks, you can expand your toddler's drink repertoire with 100% pasteurized fruit juice. But not too much. Continue to limit her to one 4-6 fl oz serving per day. Of course, water is always a good choice for a thirsty toddler.
What's for Dinner?
At this point, your child is no doubt curious, adventurous and more than willing to put things into her mouth. So, now's the perfect time to introduce her to a whole range of new foods, within reason and safety of course.
Pureed baby foods are nutritious and delicious. And now, the addition of solid foods means learning how to chew and swallow. From ages 1-2, your child should get most of her calories from solid foods. Small portions are a must, starting with one to two tablespoonfuls of each food. Be sure to vary her choices from the different food groups, keeping in mind that toddlers need more fat and less fiber than adults do.
We all love desserts, but at this point it's important not to overemphasize desserts as better than the rest of the meal. If you do serve dessert, try and make it a healthy one, like sharing a juicy sliced pear.
2nd Year and Beyond
At age 2, experts recommend switching to low-fat or fat-free milk. You can do this easily by gradually adding low-fat or fat-free milk to her whole milk over several weeks until she's switched over.
By the way, whole milk lacks iron. Ask your child's doctor if your toddler would benefit from an iron-fortified toddler milk drink or a multivitamin with iron.
Have Fun with Foods
Mealtime at this age can be a fun, rewarding and delightfully messy experience. It can also lay the groundwork for tastes that can last a lifetime. So be a part of it. Offer options, and make them fun. Instill a love for fruits and vegetables. If at first you don't succeed, don't push, but do try again later. Research shows that kids may need to be offered a food as often as twelve times before they accept it. Try to associate new foods with old favorites. If she likes mashed sweet potatoes, she may also like mashed potatoes and carrots. And mix things up. You'd get bored eating the same thing day after day too.