As your baby grows into a toddler, you can begin to feed him more solid foods. An 18-month-old toddler will most likely begin feeding himself using both his fingers and utensils. Give your toddler healthy foods and avoid salty and sweet snacks to help encourage good eating habits from the start. Keep in mind that choking on foods that are easy to swallow or hard to chew is still a risk at this age.
Milk in a Cup
By 18 months, your baby should be drinking whole milk from a cup. If spillage is an issue, use a sippy cup. Some toddlers dislike the flavor of cow's milk compared to breast milk or baby formula. Work around this by mixing breast milk or formula with cow's milk to help with the transition, according to Kid's Health. Then, increase the cow's milk, while decreasing the breast or formula until your toddler is only drinking cow's milk. Give your child whole milk until he's about 2 years old, unless directed otherwise by your doctor.
Many toddlers have a difficult time letting go of the bottle. But bottle drinking increases risk of tooth decay. If your 18-month old is having a tough time giving up the bottle, be sure to properly sanitize the nipple and make teeth brushing a priority.
How Much Food to Give
For proper growth, an 18-month old needs a healthy diet that's filled with a variety of foods from all the food groups. To make sure your toddler is getting what they need, strive for about three 1/2 cup servings of milk or dairy products daily. An ounce of cheese is as a serving. Give her six servings of grains, such as pasta and bread. Half of a bread slice or a 1/4 cup of pasta is a serving for toddlers. Iron-deficiency is a concern for young toddlers, to make sure your child gets enough iron, offer cereals fortified with iron as well as beans and meat. Two tablespoons of ground meat or 1/4 cup of beans is a serving for a toddler. Also aim for 6 tablespoons of vegetables and three servings of fruit a day. To combat the common toddler aversion to vegetables, serve a dip, such as ranch dressing.
Skip These Foods
An 18-month old is still learning how to chew and swallow, and choking is a risk. To keep your toddler safe, always cut food into small pieces before serving. Don't give your toddler whole grapes, chunks of cheese or uncooked vegetables. Candies, nuts and popcorn are also choking hazards, as are gummy foods such as marshmallows. While you can spread peanut butter thinly on a small piece of bread, don't feed peanut butter directly to your toddler, as it can lodge in his throat.
Talk to your doctor and take care when giving your baby new foods if you're concerned about allergies. Offer one new food at at time, waiting a few days in between so you can monitor for a reaction and pinpoint the potential problematic food. This is especially if food allergies run in your family. Set up a regular feeding schedule of three meals a day and two snacks. Don't panic if your toddler doesn't want to eat during a meal. It's perfectly normal for toddlers not to be hungry at mealtimes.