From 12 to 18 Months - Nutrition
At this age you may notice dramatic drop in your baby's appetite. This will continue for a year or two and is entirely normal. Babies usually gain only five or six pounds in the second year, so you shouldn't worry if your baby seems to be eating less.
Changes in eating habits also indicate your baby's increasing independence. She may now show definite likes and dislikes. If your baby doesn't like a particular food, don't force her to eat. Let her eat as much or as little as she wants.
This is a good time to begin offering a variety of healthy foods and letting her choose. Select daily servings from each of the following five basic food groups:
- Meat: includes meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, and dried beans.
- Milk: includes milk, cheese, yogurt, and various milk products.
- Vegetables: includes all vegetables.
- Fruits: includes all fruits.
- Grains: includes whole-grained or enriched breads and cereals; also rice and pasta.
By her first birthday, your baby will probably be taking milk from a cup at mealtimes. She will also have been finger feeding for several months. Now is the time to let her experiment with a spoon. Be prepared for a lot of messy fun.
The following suggestions may help you avoid or deal with feeding problems:
- Serve snacks that are nutritious and planned as part of baby's daily diet.
- Limit foods that are high in fats or sugar and low in other nutrients. These can reduce baby's appetite.
- Don't bribe baby in order to get her to eat.
- Baby is easily distracted during mealtime by television programs or by other children running and playing. Allow time, but if mealtime stretches beyond reason, remove the food without comment or argument.
Babies learn the most about food by watching their parents and other children. Improving food and nutrition habits for all family members is the best way to pass on good habits to the younger ones.