The rapid rate of growth in the first year of life slows during the second year. Correspondingly, your baby's appetite diminishes as well. He may express some very strong food preferences and refuse to eat foods he seemed to enjoy as an infant.
He may show lack of interest in eating and may dawdle for what seems like hours over his meal. He wants to feed himself but may be very messy with cup, spoon, and fingers. If a food is too difficult to chew, he will take it out of his mouth and not eat it. Be sure to cut his food into easy-to-eat pieces.
Since individual children vary so much in their growth, activity level, and interest in food, the frequency of feeding and the amount of food vary, too. In general, your toddler needs about 950 to 1,300 calories a day in his second year. The calories should be from a high-quality, varied diet.
Your baby's doctor should monitor his milk intake. Some toddlers do not get enough milk, while others get too many of their daily calories from milk. Use whole milk, offered only in a cup, after one year of age, unless your child's doctor advises you otherwise.
The best approach to feeding is to offer your child a balanced, varied diet, including some high-quality protein foods, and avoid junk food. Never force-feed your toddler. Even when it seems he is not eating at all, force-feeding is not the answer; this approach may lead to the development of some unnecessary feeding problems. Let his natural appetite be your guide. If you offer him only good food, then when he does eat, he will eat well.
Once your child appears to have lost interest in the meal or is just playing with his food, he should receive one warning about eating. If, after that, the lack of interest continues, remove the food and declare the meal over. Never strongly encourage or force your child to finish the meal or clear his plate. Don't bribe your child with sweets or other rewards for clearing the plate. Most children will, over a 24- to 36-hour period, eat what they need.
If you over-encourage children to eat, they have an increased chance of becoming fat and developing eating disorders in the future. If your child insists he is hungry a few hours after dinner is over, give him a nutritious snack such as fruit or cheese. If his lack of eating appears to affect his weight, consult your doctor.
Each new stage of development offers new feeding challenges to parents. Remember that by offering your baby very nutritious foods, prepared and portioned appropriately for his age, you are doing the very best you can to help him be healthy.
In our final section, we will look at an alternative that more and more parents have been pursuing -- making your own baby food.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.