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What Food To Give Toddlers, 1-2 Years Old

As you probably already know, toddlers are incredibly active and energetic! For their body size, toddlers need each meal and snack that is packed with good nutrition.

5 mins to read Aug 10, 2016

For toddlers to get the nutrients they need for growth and development, solid food must provide essential nutrients in small portions served frequently during the day—typically, three balanced full meals and two or three nutritious meriendas during the day. Make sure your 12-month-old gets a variety from each food group every day.

Here are the suggested servings for each food group:

Rice or substitute 3-4 servings 1 1- 2 cups cooked rice
Vegetables 1 serving 1 cup cooked yellow/green vegetables
Fruits 1-2 servings 1-2 pcs. medium banana; 1-2 slices mango
Meat, fish, egg or substitute 2 servings 2 matchbox sizes:
  • Liver or glandular organs, 1x a week
  • Egg, 2x a week
  • 1 cup cooked dried beans maybe used in place of 1 meat and fish serving.

* As your toddler's needs may be greater or less than those stated in the chart, it is best to always follow your child's hunger and fullness cues.

Here is a suggested meal pattern and sample menu of solid foods:

Fruits 1 slice Papaya
Egg or meat substitute 1 pc. fried egg
Rice/Bread with butter/margarine or jam 1 cup Rice
Meat, fish or poultry 1 pc Paksiw na Galunggong
Vegetable 1 cup Monggo Guisado with Malunggay
Rice or substitute 1 cup Rice
Fruit or dessert 1 pc Banana (Latundan)
Soup Broth
Meat, fish or poultry 1 slice breaded Pork
Vegetable 1 cup Pinakbet
Rice or substitute 1 cup Rice
Fruit or dessert  
A.M: 1 cup Taho
P.M: 1 slice breaded Pork


Here are tips to help you teach your toddler good eating habits that will stick with her for a lifetime:

  1. Choose foods wisely.  During your toddler's transition to solids, nutrition gaps become more common.
    1. It is important to give your toddler a variety of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats and dairy. Also, include vegetable fats with Omega-3 fat, like canola or soybean oil.
  2. Mix it up.  A balanced diet depends on a good combination of foods from every food group every day—whole grains, fruits, vegetables, meat, beans and dairy.  Be sure to also include foods with nutrients that your child may be lacking: Iron, Zinc, Potassium, Vitamin E and Fiber.
  3. Serve a rainbow of fruits and veggies.  A variety of colourful foods expands your child’s tastes and provides a variety of nutrients for her tummy. She is excited to try new foods. This expands her tastes and provides a lot of nutrients for her tummy.  Introduce new foods with old favorites to improve acceptance.  For example, if she likes potato, try adding small carrot dices.
  4. Let your child decide how much to eat.  Teach your child to respect her appetite by letting her decide what and how much to eat. If she is hungry, let her eat heartily. But if she is full, let her stop.
  5. Snack smart.  Serve three small meals and two to three snacks a day. Because some toddlers get 25% of their calories from snacks, make sure to offer nutritious choices for every snack.  Avoid high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, like chips, cookies and sugary drinks.
  6. Offer healthy fats. Young children need calories from fat for growth and brain development. Include healthy sources of unsaturated fat – avocados, fatty fish, food made with vegetable oils – into your toddler's diet. 
  7. Choose foods lower in sodium. Even if you think your child’s food tastes too bland, remember that she doesn’t need all the salt that tastes right to you. Sodium also becomes a preferred taste once it’s introduced.


To better understand toddlers' eating habits and nutrient intake, Nestlé sponsored the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) 2008. By knowing what toddlers are really eating, we can better guide their food choices.

Here are the common nutrition gaps, o kakulangan sa nutrisyon, based on the study:


They contain essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. A diet high in fruits and veggies is important for healthy growth and development.

How to get it:  Offer your toddler 225g fruit and 275g of vegetables every day. Fruit and vegetable servings can be fresh, frozen or pureed canned foods. But they need to be cut up into small, easy-to-eat pieces.  Remember you can still serve purees in toddler-favorite foods to add variety.


        How to get it:  Continue to give your toddler iron-rich infant cereal.  Remember - she can be offered cereal any time of day!


There isn’t a lot of room in your toddler's diet for foods that provide calories but not many nutrients.

       How to get it: In place of sweets, serve your toddler more nutritious fruits, yogurt, cereals and snacks made with whole grains.


It plays a big role in your child’s digestive health.

How to get it:  Everyday, offer whole grains, and fresh, frozen, pureed or canned fruits and vegetables that are the right size and texture for your child.


This important antioxidant helps protect cells in the body from damage.

How to get it: Foods that are rich Vitamin E are vegetable oils (canola, corn, soybean), avocados, whole grains and some leafy green vegetables (camote tops, broccoli).


This mineral helps muscles work properly.

How to get it: Potassium is found in a lot of foods, like potatoes, Kamote, avocado, kangkong, yogurt, bananas and citrus fruits like oranges.


Aside from aiding in growth and brain development, fats also help the body use vitamins, such as Vitamins A, D, E and K.  

        How to get it: Try preparing foods with fat such as soy or canola oil, and those that have the Omega-3 fat, alpha-linoleic acid.  You may also add mayonnaise or salad dressings made with these oils. Remember to limit foods high in saturated and trans fats.

Co-written with Kate Perales, RND.