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Balanced Diet for a Year-Old Baby

By Pik Ho

During the first year of life, breast milk or formula is the major source of nutrition and provides all the nutrient needs for your baby. When he is one year old, his needs increase significantly and breast milk or formula alone cannot provide adequate nutrition for him. Although your baby may seem to slow down in growing compared to the first 12 months, he is still growing rapidly and developing important organs. Age one is also a critical period of healthy eating habit that goes well into adulthood. Therefore, it is important to ensure a balanced and healthy diet for your one year old.


A one-year-old needs about 900 to 1,400 calories per day, depends upon his activity level, size and gender. Since he has a small stomach, he needs to have foods packed with nutrients that he needs and stays away from empty calories as much as possible. Providing your baby with a variety of foods can ensure he meets all the nutrients he needs for healthy growth and development.

A Balanced Diet

Your baby needs about 2 cups of dairy per day. Milk, yogurt and cheese are good sources of protein and calcium. One cup of dairy equals to 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 2 ounces of processed cheese. Most babies at one-year-old can start weaning from breast milk or formula to cow's milk. Make sure you give your one-year-old whole milk only. Skim milk and fat free milk are not recommended until at least age two because your one-year-old needs the fat for brain and nerve development. Also choose those with added vitamin D for added benefits. As far as yogurt and cheese, focus on unsweetened, regular yogurt with live culture and pasteurized cheese made from whole milk.

Your baby needs about 2 oz of meats and beans per day, where 1 oz is equal to 1 oz of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked dry beans or one egg. Lean meat such as chicken and turkey breasts are good choices. Also focus on white fish, which are lower in mercury level, such as wild salmon, tilapia and cod.

Your one-year-old also needs about 3 oz of grains, with half of it being whole grains. 1 oz equals to a slice of bread or half cup of cooked rice, pasta or cereal.

He needs one cup of vegetables and fruits each per day. A cup of fruits equals to a small apple or a medium size banana. Veggies and fruits provide excellent source of antioxidants and fiber. When choosing vegetables, focus on leafy greens for the rich iron content.


If your baby is a vegetarian, you can increase his protein intake by adding more dairy to his diet. You can also increase his intake of iron from leafy greens such as spinach and broccoli.

If your baby is a vegan and does not eat any kind of dairy or meats, you can use soy milk with fortified vitamin D, tofu with fortified calcium, leafy greens and other soy products to replace his protein and iron needs. You may also want to supplement your baby with fish oil, as well. Consult your pediatrician if you are concerned.


Every baby grows at a different rate and therefore has different calories needs. Their needs also depend on their size, activity level and gender. If your baby refuses to eat during a meal, he is probably full and there is no need for force feeding. As long as your baby is growing at a normal rate and looks healthy, he probably is getting all the nutrition he needs. However, if you are concerned about his diet such as being overweight or underweight or suspect nutrition deficiency, you should consult your pediatrician.


Although you can start feeding your one-year-old allergenic foods that you might have been with-holding, such as egg white, citrus, soy and tree nuts, you should keep watching for allergic reactions.

Also watch out for choking hazards. Avoid offering foods that are hard to chew on such as popcorn, hard candies, whole grapes and hot dogs. And always supervise your child when eating.

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