At this stage, your child's nutrition is becoming more and more similar to the rest of the family's diet. They should participate in family meals and should be exposed to the food that suits the culinary preferences of the family - including specific spices and foods. The daily menu should include food from all food groups according to the recommendation of the ministry of health (including grains, fruits and vegetables). At this stage, there is no need to limit fat and cholesterol intake. By limiting these important building blocks - it could hurt the normal development.
During the meal, give your child small pieces that they can fit in their fingers so that they can hold the food on their own and start getting used to independent feeding. Now and in the upcoming months, they can start eating alone, using either their hands or a spoon, and they should be encouraged to do so even if it is a lot messier.
At this stage, your child is ready to start chewing and needs food with a harder consistency such as small pieces of toast, boiled vegetables and soft fruit. Always remember, choking hazard is still relevant until the age of 5 so it’s better to stay away from dangerous food such as whole grapes, hot dogs, nuts, popcorn etc.
Drinks - you can now start combining milk in your child’s diet. Up to this age, it’s better not to give your children cow's milk since it’s low on iron, but it can now be slowly brought in. Don’t give your children juice or sweetened drinks.
Snacks -Sometimes your child will be hungry between meals. It’s your job to teach him from a young age that snacks don’t have to be desserts. Instead of sweets, give your child fruit, yogurt, vegetables or toast. Children around this age might start eating less, despite becoming more physically active. This is natural and normal since they are now burning less energy on growing than they used to in their first year of life. Avoid getting into fights around feeding. Lay all the options out on the table and your children will eat as much as they want. Just because they didn’t eat much during a meal doesn’t mean they should fill up on sweets between meals.
What should you do if your child doesn’t agree to eat anything? If your child won’t try or even taste a large variety of food - don’t give up! Keep offering them the same food even 10-15 times over a few months in addition to other types of foods. In the end, they will agree and might even love these foods.
Last updated: May 2017
Authors - Tamar Sudry BA MED, Dr. Yair Sadaka MD Ph.D., pediatrician, Pediatric neurologist