Sample Meal Plan for Your One Year Old

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It is so exciting when your baby is ready to expand their food choices and really get into eating “big people” food. When our son was a baby, I loved introducing him to new meals and seeing how he liked them. To this day, he still loves trying new dishes, and I love that he is such an adventurous foodie. There are so many great recipes for introducing new foods to your baby’s diet and helping them to develop their palette! Here are some fun and creative meal plans for your one-year old.

Bottles and breastfeeding

You might be wondering now that your 12-month old is eating solid foods what happens with the bottles or breastfeeding. This part really comes down to personal choice, but you can also get your cues from your baby. By 12 months of age, your little one will likely be eating 3 small meals a day with 1 or 2 snacks in between meals. 

If your baby was drinking formula during their first year, you may consider switching over to whole milk and offering that with their meals and at bedtime. Between 18 – 24 ounces of whole milk per day should be sufficient along with their meals and snacks. If you are breastfeeding, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends continuing as normal and using your baby’s cues to guide how much they take. 

Raising an adventurous eater

The best way for your child to become an adventurous eater is to model for them what good eating habits are. And, the best way to do this is to sit down to a family meal as often as you can, and have your toddler eat with you. While it can sometimes be easier (and much faster) to feed the kids first and then enjoy a quiet adult dinner later on, your children benefit so much from watching what you are doing at the table and what food choices you’re making. Babies and children who are included in the family meals tend to be much more adventurous when it comes to trying new food, and they tend to be less picky eaters.

Monitor your baby’s mood when deciding whether or not to introduce a new food to them. If they are tired and cranky, then that may not be the best time to see if they like cooked broccoli. However, during the day when they are bright and perky, they may really enjoy testing out a new food. Introduce the new food to them, and just let them experiment a bit with it, even if most of it ends up in their bib. Let them smell it, play with it, feel it, taste it, and possibly even chew it and spit it out. You never quite know what will happen when your toddler is testing out a new food! But, keep it a positive experience, praise them for trying something new, and if the food wasn’t overly successful, try it again in a few days. Just because they don’t like it the first time around, doesn’t mean that they won’t eventually develop a taste for it.

baby eating cereal in a bowl

How many meals should my one-year old eat?

Typically, toddlers do well eating 3 healthy meals per day, with 1 or 2 snacks in between meals. The timing of these meals and snacks can vary, however, depending on your little one’s preferences and what works best in your home. When our son was 12-months old, he would wake up absolutely ravenous, and he couldn’t wait to dive into his breakfast. It didn’t matter what he ate or how much he ate the evening prior, he was always hungry first thing in the morning! However, when our daughter arrived, her tummy was more of a “slow starter” in the morning, so she wasn’t overly keen on breakfast. She preferred to start her day with a smaller, healthy snack, and would then have her larger breakfast later in the morning after her first nap. You may need to adjust feeding times and frequency to suit your baby’s appetite, but they should typically consume 3 meals each day and 1 to 2 healthy snacks.

Typical toddler feeding schedule

Wondering about how to fit in all these meals, snacks, naps, and playtime? Sometimes it can feel like we are forever cooking for our babes, but that’s because they’re growing as rapidly as they are! Here is a typical toddler feeding schedule, however you may need to adjust based on your baby’s eating habits, as mentioned previously.

6:00 a.m.    Morning bottle or breastfeed

7:00 a.m.    Breakfast

9:00 a.m.    Snack

(9:30 a.m.    Nap)

12:00 p.m.    Lunch

(1:00 p.m.    Nap)

3:00 p.m.    Snack

5:30 p.m.    Dinner

6:30 p.m.    Evening bottle or breastfeed

Safety considerations

Whenever you are introducing your baby to a new type of food, you will want to monitor their reaction to ensure that there are no allergies to that particular type of food. Proceed cautiously with foods such as shellfish, nuts, and eggs. Not that these foods need to be avoided, but just introduce them carefully and watch for any indication of allergy. After introducing a new food to your baby, wait 3 or 4 days before introducing another new food, in case they do have a reaction. Allergic reactions can include rash or hives, wheezing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, excessive gas, or diarrhea. Be sure to contact your pediatrician if you notice any of these symptoms, and if they increase in severity, get your little one to the hospital immediately.

Honey is to be avoided until at least 1-year of age, as it can cause botulism.

Any food that can pose a choking hazard should be chopped up into small bites. As always, your toddler should be monitored when eating, as they are still mastering their chewing and swallowing, and you always want to be on hand in case they choke. Foods that can pose choking hazards include cheese cubes, nuts, seeds, raisins, grapes, peanut butter, popcorn, and hotdogs.

Important nutrients to include

During this stage of rapid growth, it is critical that your toddler’s diet includes a wide variety of nutritious foods that provide them with the important vitamins and minerals needed for healthy growth. Toddlers between the age of 1 and 2 years need a large amount of healthy fats, such as DHA, that help with brain development. They also need a good amount of protein, iron, and calcium to help with all of their growth and development. Adding variety to your baby’s diet is important, not only for developing their palette but also for the different nutrients that each different kind of food provides. So, read on to find some sample meal plans for your 1-year old that are full of healthy, nutritious, and yummy foods!

baby eating croissant

Sample meal plans for your one-year old

Breakfast Ideas:

  1. Overnight Oats with a handful of blueberries
  2. Scrambled egg sprinkled with cheddar cheese, orange wedges
  3. Healthy Applesauce Pancakes with ½ a banana, sliced
  4. Turkey bacon, mini pumpkin muffin, sliced strawberries
  5. Mini bagel with cream cheese, sliced grapes
  6. Whole grain toast with nut butter, unsweetened yogurt, apple slices
  7. Mini egg muffins with a handful of raspberries
  8. Avocado egg toast for toddlers
  9. Strawberry oatmeal smoothie
  10. Sweet potato waffles, ½ a banana, sliced

Lunch Ideas:

  1. Bite-size pasta with healthy marinara sauce, green beans, apple slices
  2. Muffin Tin Meal! A super fun way to give your baby a variety of healthy food
  3. Mini chicken pot pies – total comfort in one meal!
  4. Popcorn chicken bites, cucumber slices, orange wedges
  5. Oven-baked fish fingers, potato wedges, steamed broccoli florets
  6. Grilled cheese sandwich, cherry tomatoes (sliced), ripe pear slices
  7. Hard-boiled egg, small cheese cubes, whole-grain crackers, melon pieces 
  8. Mini meatballs, bite-sized pasta, cucumber slices
  9. Quesadilla, cherry tomatoes (sliced)
  10. Homemade hummus with veggie slices and cheese cubes

Dinner Ideas:

  1. Baked seasoned chicken tenders & sweet potatoes
  2. Roasted salmon with steamed cauliflower florets
  3. Vegetarian chili with garlic toast fingers
  4. Broccoli and cheddar squares with sliced cucumbers and peppers
  5. Shortcut butternut squash risotto, toddler-friendly salad
  6. Pesto chicken veggie meatballs, bite-sized pasta
  7. Mini spinach and cheese rolls with steamed broccoli
  8. Tex Mex rice cakes with toddler-friendly salad
  9. Green mac and cheese with sliced cherry tomatoes
  10. Salmon cakes with green beans

Concluding thoughts

This can be such an exciting time when you begin introducing new food to your toddler, but it can also be stressful at times. Don’t worry – there is no set deadline for when you should begin introducing more complex food and meals to your little one. Simply try to offer a variety of healthy food at each meal, and keep introducing new recipes when you can. They may not always like the food you introduce, but slowly but surely they will develop their palette and expand their tastes. Have fun with it, and your baby will feed off of your cues (pun intended). Happy meal planning!

Sarah Poirier is an elementary school teacher, freelance writer, and busy mom who is seeking a simpler lifestyle away from the everyday "rat race". Having recently completed a cross-country move, she now lives on her rural oceanfront paradise with her husband and two beautiful, energetic children. As a writer, she is passionate about finding ways to live a healthier and more holistic lifestyle, and she loves sharing helpful tips and tricks she's learned along the way on this parenting adventure!