Stage 3 – Chunky Foods

At this third stage the foods are mashed, minced, finely chopped or grated to increase the lumpiness of the texture. By now you will be moving towards offering three meals a day plus a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. As with adults, babies need a variety of nutrients so their diet should start to include starchy foods (carbohydrates), vegetable or animal protein and plenty of fruit and vegetables.

How much should my toddler be eating?

Your job is to decide what foods are offered and when and where they are eaten. Let your child decide which of the foods offered he or she will eat, and how much to eat. Day-to-day and meal-to-meal appetite changes are normal. It is important that you don’t make your child clean his plate.

The following table gives guidelines for how much your toddler should be eating each day – however do not stress if every day doesn’t look perfect. Toddlers are fussy and love to make their own choices.

Grain Group – at least 3-4 servings each day

  • ¼ – ½ slice of bread
  • 2-3 crackers
  • ¼ – 1/3 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal
  • ¼ – ½ bun, muffin, or bagel

Fruit and Vegetable Group – at least 1-3 servings each day

  • ¼ – 1/3 cup cooked, canned, or chopped raw
  • ¼ – ½ small fruit/vegetable

Milk Group – at least 3 servings each day

  • ½ cup milk or yogurt
  • 15 – 30 grams of cheese
    Note: You do not need to give your toddler low-fat foods.

Meat Group – 2-4 servings each day

  • 30 – 60 grams meat, chicken, fish
  • 2-4 tablespoons dry beans and peas
  • ½ – 1 egg

Fat Group – 3-4 servings each day

  • 1 teaspoon margarine, butter, oils

For more information on portion sizes: https://www.infantandtoddlerforum.org/portion-sizes-table-2015

Is there anything I shouldn’t feed my toddler?

Avoid giving foods that are not natural, this includes processed foods high in trans fats, salts and sugars, fast food and convenience foods. Snacks like biltong are high in salt and other spices and preservative methods not ideal for babies.

Avoid foods that may cause choking:

  • Slippery foods such as whole grapes; large pieces of meats, poultry, and hot dogs; candy and cough drops,
  • Small, hard foods such as nuts, seeds, popcorn, chips, pretzels, raw carrots, and raisins.
  • Sticky foods such as peanut butter and marshmallows.

Always cut up foods into small pieces and watch your child while she is eating.

Also, your child may have food allergies. The most common food allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts and other nuts, soybeans, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Many children grow out of food allergies. If you think your child might have a food allergy, talk with your doctor.

Fussy eater?

After a year of rapid growth (the average one-year-old has tripled her birth weight), toddlers gain weight more slowly. So, of course, they need less food. The fact that these little ones are always on the go also affects their eating patterns.

Toddlers like to binge on one food at a time

They may eat only fruits one day, and vegetables the next. Since erratic eating habits are as normal, expect your toddler to eat well one day and eat practically nothing the next. Sometimes you need to aim for a nutritionally-balanced week, not a balanced day.

  • Offer new foods one at a time, and remember that children may need to try a new food 10 or more times before they accept it!
  • Make food simple, plain, and recognizable. Some kids don’t like food that is mixed (like a casserole) or food that is touching.
  • Never force your child to eat a food he doesn’t like. Offer a variety of foods so that he can choose something he does like.
  • Serve at least one food you know your child will like, but then expect him to eat the same foods as the rest of the family.

Additional tips

  • Plan regular meals and snacks and give toddlers enough time to eat.
  • Plan a quiet time before meals and snacks. Kids eat better when they are relaxed.
  • Don’t use food as a reward.
  • Involve your children in making the food as they get old enough to help.
  • Use child-size plates, cups, forks and spoons.