Mothers may be very confused as to what is good for their children. Especially the new moms. Not everything you think of can be fed to your child. Children over 13 months can be fed some amount of normal adult food. The food should be high in nutritional value because your child is in the growth phase, where the body needs a lot of proteins, carbs, fats and vitamins for normal growth and development. Non-vegetarian parents should take care of the amount of protein their babies get since they are not feeding them meat and eggs, which are the main source of proteins among all foods. 

Choosing healthy food for babies and toddlers isn’t hard. It just means offering a range of food from the five food groups right from the start, and this adds up to the best possible nutrition for your child’s growth, development and learning.

The five groups are as follows:

1. Protein foods

Protein is important for your child’s growth and muscle development. Foods with lots of protein include meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu and nuts. These foods also contain other useful vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Iron and omega-3 fatty acids, from red meat and oily fish, are particularly important for your child’s brain development and learning.

How much?

1. Total of 2 ounces every day

2. One ounce equals: 1 oz well-cooked and chopped meat, poultry, or fish; 1 cooked egg; or 1⁄4 cup cooked beans

2. Fruits and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables give your child energy, vitamins, anti-oxidants, fibre and water. They help protect your baby’s body against all kinds of diseases.

It’s a good idea to offer your baby fruit and vegetables for every meal and for snacks. Try to choose fruit and veggies of different colours, textures and tastes, both fresh and cooked.

Wash the fruit to remove dirt or chemicals from it, and leave the skin on because it contains most of the nutrients.

How much?

1. Vegetables: Total of 3 portions every day. One portion equals: 1⁄4 to ½  cup cooked, chopped vegetables 1⁄2 cup and 100% vegetable juice.

2. Fruits: Total of 3 portions every day. One portion equals: 1⁄4 to ½  cup chopped, cooked, or canned fruit 1⁄2 cup and 100% fruit juice. Limit fruit juice to 4 to 6 oz per day.

3. Dairy

Milk, cheese and yoghurt are high in protein and calcium, which help to build strong bones and teeth.

Until your baby is 12 months old, they should have only breastmilk or infant formula. After that, they can start drinking full-fat cow’s milk. As children in this age group are growing so quickly and need lots of energy, they need full-fat dairy products until they turn two.

How much?

1. Total of 4 portions every day.

2. One portion equals: 1⁄2 cup whole milk; 1 oz cheese or 1⁄2 cup yogurt. Babies under age of  2 years should drink whole milk.

3. They need the extra fat in whole milk for growth. At 2 years old, begin 1% lowfat or fat free milk.

4. Grains

Grains include breakfast cereals, breads, rice, pasta, corn and more. These foods give your child the energy he/she needs to grow, develop and learn.

Grain foods with a low glycaemic index, like whole grain pasta and breads, will give your child longer-lasting energy and keep him/her feeling fuller for longer.

How much?

1. Grains: Total of 6 portions every day

2. One portion equals: ½  to 1 slice of bread; ¼  to 1⁄2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta; 1⁄2 cup ready-to-eat cereal 2 small plain crackers; 1⁄2 waffle or pancake; ½  tortilla; and  1⁄2 hamburger bun, roll, or 3-inch bagel.

5. Oil

Fats are an important part of a healthy diet. They constitute of the energy reservoir. They also make up the layer of insulation under the skin.

How much?

1. Total of 3 teaspoons every day

2. One teaspoon of(5 grams) oil equals: 1 teaspoon liquid vegetable oil; 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise; 1 tablespoon salad dressing; or 1 teaspoon margarine with zero trans fat.

3. Limit solid fats like butter, regular margarine, shortening, and lard, as well as foods that contain these ingredients.

Food and drinks to avoid

Your child should avoid foods that are otherwise called ‘discretionary’ foods. These include fast food and junk food like hot chips, potato chips, pies, burgers and pizza. They also include cakes, chocolate, lollies, biscuits, doughnuts and pastries.

These foods are high in salt, saturated fat and sugar, and low in fibre and nutrients. Many of these foods also contain bad fats that can increase the risk of childhood obesity and conditions like type-2 diabetes.

Your child should also avoid sweet drinks like fruit juice, cordials, sports drinks, flavoured waters, soft drinks and flavoured milks. Sweet drinks are high in sugar and low in nutrients. They can cause weight gain, obesity and tooth decay. They fill your child easily and can make him/her less hungry for healthy meals. Also, if children start on these drinks when they’re young, it can be the start to an unhealthy lifelong habit.

Foods and drinks with caffeine aren’t recommended for children because caffeine stops the body from absorbing calcium well. Caffeine is also a stimulant, which means it gives children artificial energy. These foods and drinks include coffee, tea, energy drinks and chocolate.

Important points to remember:

1. Physical activity is important for your babies. Active play includes: running, skipping, climbing, hopping, jumping, throwing a ball, dancing, and playing with push/pull toys such as wagons or strollers. Babies should not sit still for 1 hour or more at a time, except when sleeping.

2. Let your baby begin to drink from a small cup with a spill‑proof top. Later, let your baby practice drinking from a small cup without the spill‑proof top. Remember, spills are normal.

3. Babies should stop drinking from a bottle by the time they are 12 to 14 months old. Ask your nutritionist for ideas on how to wean your toddler from the bottle.

4. Do not let your baby sip juice, milk, or sweet drinks frequently during the day or at bedtime. Instead, you can give your baby water when he or she is thirsty between meals or at bedtime.

5. They should always sit up while eating.

6. Babies should be told and taught how to take small bites and completely chew food before swallowing.

7. Cut soft fruits and cooked vegetables into small pieces – not in round, coin‑shaped slices. Remove seeds, pits, and tough skins. Make sure grapes, cherries, and berries are cut into small pieces.

8. Cut hot dogs and sausage-shaped meats into small, thin pieces – not in round, coin‑shaped slices.

9. The foods that can cause choking and should not be given to your baby are ice cubes, popcorn, pretzels, chips, marshmallows, raw vegetables (such as carrots and celery), raisins and other dried fruit, fish, chicken or turkey with bones, large chunks of meat, nuts, seeds, peanuts and peanut butter, hot and sticky breads, gum drops, chewing gum and round-shaped candies.

10. Breastfeeding is recommended and is healthy for toddlers. Continue to breastfeed your baby as long as you both enjoy it. The nutritionist or breastfeeding educator can help you with questions about breastfeeding or weaning your toddler.

Mealtime tips:

Parents are responsible for offering toddlers healthy foods at regular mealtimes. They are also responsible for how much food their child eats at each meal. Children should be encouraged to try at least one bite of a new food. However, they should not be forced to eat certain foods or eat all of the food they are given for a meal.

A set of sample meals are mentioned below to help for reference.


½ cup WIC cereal

½ cup whole milk

½ cup 100% fruit juice


1 cooked egg

1 slice whole wheat toast

1 teaspoon margarine

½ cup 100% fruit juice


½ hamburger on roll

½ cup cooked green beans

¼ cup chopped peaches

½ cup whole milk


½ cup macaroni and cheese

1⁄2 cup cooked, chopped broccoli

1⁄4 cup chopped grapes

1⁄2 cup whole milk


1 ounce chopped chicken

1⁄2 cup noodles

1⁄2 cup cooked green pea

1⁄4 cup chopped orange

1⁄2 cup whole milk


3⁄4 cup rice and beans

½ cup cooked, chopped carrots

1⁄4 cup applesauce

1⁄2 cup whole milk

Snack ideas

1⁄2 cup whole milk

1⁄2 cup yogurt

1⁄2 cup chopped strawberries

1⁄2 cup soft-cooked carrots with 1 tablespoon salad dressing

½ banana

2 whole grain crackers

1 slice cheese

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