University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #FCS8888

Raising Healthy Children: Age One1

Anghela Z. Paredes and Karla P. Shelnutt2

Congratulations! Can you believe your little one is one year old? By now, your baby has at least tripled her* birth weight (Hoeker, 2012). She may have taken her first step or is getting ready to do so (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Many more big and exciting developmental changes are to come during this year. Helping your little one begin to develop healthy habits will set the stage for a healthy future. There are a lot of steps you can take to guide your baby in the right direction.

Use the information in this publication as a guide. Talk to your baby's doctor if you have any questions or concerns. These are general guidelines; each baby develops at her own pace.

Figure 1. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Feeding your child healthy foods will promote normal growth and set the stage for developing healthy eating habits. Make sure your baby is getting the nutrients she needs. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, toddlers need about 900–1,000 calories per day (Gidding et al., 2006). However, the amount your child actually eats may vary widely. Your toddler may not always want to eat, but providing regular meals and snacks will let her know food is available. Many parents may be concerned that their child isn’t eating enough food, but parents and caregivers are advised to avoid pushing toddlers to eat food if they refuse it (Gidding et al., 2006). It is your job to offer nutritious foods, and it is your toddler’s job to decide how much she will eat (Gidding et al., 2006). Children will eat when they are hungry, and their nutrient needs will be met when you provide healthful foods every day.

Moo-ving Toward Milk

If you are breastfeeding, that is great! Continue to do so as long as you and your baby desire. Breast milk provides a natural defense against allergies and infections (Eidelman & Feldman-Winter, 2005). It contains the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein for optimal development and may reduce the risk of obesity (Eidelman & Feldman-Winter, 2005). If you've stopped breastfeeding or if you are formula feeding, this is a good time to make the switch to regular whole milk. Your baby needs the fat and calories that whole milk offers for healthy brain development until she is two years old. Milk also contains calcium and vitamin D, which help to build strong bones and teeth. Talk to your baby's doctor about making this transition (Gavin, 2011a).

Transitioning to Solid Foods

Your baby also should be eating a variety of solid foods by now. Meat and fortified breads and cereals are good sources of iron and zinc—nutrients needed for growth (Gavin, 2011a). Babies also need a variety of fruits and vegetables to get other important vitamins and minerals (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013). If your baby hasn't started eating these foods yet, it's important to start soon.

The types of food children are ready to eat vary according to their motor skills and stage of development. Regardless of what stage children are in, include them in your family meals by sitting them in their high chair at the table. Start the habit of family meals early in life!

Figure 2. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

My Baby: The Crawler

Babies who are at the crawling stage can usually:

  • Move food inside their mouths using their tongue.

  • Use their jaw and tongue to mash foods.

  • Feed themselves finger foods.

  • Hold a sippy-cup without help.

Appropriate foods and textures at this stage include the following:

  • Puréed foods such as infant oatmeal and pureed baby foods.

  • Ground or soft mashed foods with tiny lumps such as well mashed black beans, bananas, and ripe mashed avocado.

  • Crunchy foods that dissolve easily such as baby crackers.

Helpful things you can do to foster development:

  • Offer mashed versions of favorite foods.

  • Combine puréed foods your baby likes with tender bits of veggies.

  • Slowly introduce new tastes and foods.

Put a few pieces of a healthy cereal or other safe finger food right on the table and let your baby feed herself—this will help with fine motor skill development.

My Baby: Beginning to Walk, But Not Too Confident Yet

Babies who are at this stage can usually:

  • Drink from a straw.

  • Hold a cup with both hands.

  • Dip a spoon in food and get at least some of the food into her mouth.

Appropriate foods and textures at this stage include the following:

  • Coarsely chopped and mashed foods.

  • Foods with soft-to-moderate texture such as cottage cheese.

  • Bite-size pieces of pasta and cheese.

Helpful things you can do to foster development:

  • Choose foods that are a safe size, shape, and texture to help your child learn to feed herself and prevent choking. Choking hazards include popcorn, whole grapes, raisins, hot dogs, nuts, and hard pieces of food.

  • Provide adequate supervision whenever your child is eating.

  • Let your toddler try to feed herself with a spoon. She may be a little messy, but it will help with fine motor skill development and her pride!

Figure 3. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

My Little Walker: Independent

Babies that are walking can usually:

  • Chew and swallow firmer foods skillfully.

  • Use a fork.

  • Use a spoon with less spilling.

  • Pick up a cup with one hand and set it down.

Appropriate foods and textures at this stage include the following:

  • Coarsely chopped foods, such as fresh fruits, finely cut-up meats, and diced hard-cooked eggs.

  • Bite-size pieces, such as soft-cooked vegetables.

  • Soft solids, such as yogurt and instant hot cereal.

Helpful things you can do to foster development:

  • Offer foods that are thick and cling to her spoon such as yogurt and mashed banana.

  • Offer bite-sized foods she can spear with a fork.

  • Show her how to use utensils.

  • Let your toddler feed herself as much as possible—this will let her develop the skills and confidence she needs to feed herself successfully.

Physical Activity

Physical activity will help your child develop thinking and communication skills. Also, it is a great way for her to develop self-confidence. Help your child begin to develop healthy habits such as being physically active and limiting time in front of the TV—this is one of the most important things you do as a parent!

Regardless of your child’s developmental stage, set aside at least 60 minutes each day for active play (Illinois Early Learning, 2011). Make sure all activities with your little one are safe, supervised, and age appropriate.

Figure 4. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Fun Activities You Can Do Together!

At the crawling stage, give your baby plenty of room to crawl around and try the following:

  • Let your baby crawl over you. This will help her coordinate her body movements and increase shared contact time that your baby loves.

  • Play peek-a-boo and hide-and-go-seek while both of you are crawling around.

  • Encourage her to crawl more by moving her favorite toy across the room as she tries to grab it. Make sure she gets to the toy enough so she doesn't get frustrated!

  • Challenge your baby to a crawling race! Chase after your baby in a safe manner.

If your child is beginning to walk:

  • Sing and act out songs such as "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." This will help your child learn the body parts and understand concepts of high, low, up, and down.

  • Sing and act out songs such as "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," and "The Wheels on the Bus" that encourage flexibility and strength.

  • Chase each other. This will enhance movement skills and show your child how to play with others.

If your child is able to walk alone:

  • Take family walks together; this is a great way to start the routine of family activities at a young age.

  • Walk on your tiptoes, but you don't have to be quiet! This will help your child develop good balance.

  • Dance with your baby. Play kid-friendly songs. Watch your baby "dance" to the beat and you do the same. This will help your baby coordinate her movements, and most of all, enjoy quality time with you.

Language and Social Development

As your child grows, she will be developing her own personality. She may be shy or anxious with strangers. She may cry when you or a loved one leaves the room. She is developing a preference for people and toys (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012).

Children often repeat certain sounds or gestures for attention. By now your child may be saying "dada" and "mama" and babbling with inflections. She may be shaking her head "no" and nodding "yes." When your toddler gets excited or scared, she may use exclamations, such as "oh-oh" or "whoa" (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). You may want to get a record of the words and sounds your baby uses in a diary or baby book. It can be fun to look back at these milestones as your child grows.

Helpful Things You Can Do To Help Your Child's Language and Social Development

Read with your child! Have your toddler follow along and point to objects as you name them (Gavin, 2011b). Make funny voices and animal noises some of the time to keep your child engaged. Talk to your baby in full sentences. Expand on your child's two-word sentences: "Sue is hungry and wants milk?"

Praise your baby and give her lots of loving attention. Spend time cuddling and holding your baby; this helps your baby feel cared for and secure and is special for parents, too.

To get more information about your one-year-old’s development, contact one of the following reliable sources in your county:

  • UF/IFAS Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Educator (look in the blue pages of your telephone book). UF/IFAS Extension offices are listed online at

  • WIC nutritionist at your county health department (also in the blue pages of your telephone book).

  • For referral to a registered dietitian (RD) in your area you can call the Florida Dietetic Association at (850) 386-8850 or check the yellow pages of your phone book.

Your One-Year-Old

Table 1. 

Your child's height


Your child's weight


You can check your child's height and weight percentiles by looking at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Growth Charts at Charts are provided by gender and provide percentile curves of body measurements including height and weight that are used by health care professionals to track growth. Ask your pediatrician to provide an explanation about what the numbers mean for your child.

*Although we refer to a female child in this document, the recommendations apply to all children.

Recommended Websites

  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association – This site contains a wealth of information on speech, language, and hearing development and health conditions. It also offers a variety of resources if additional information is needed.

  • American Academy of Pediatrics – This site has general information regarding the health of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults as well as specific guidelines concerning pediatric issues.

References and Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2013). Feeding and nutrition: Your one-year-old. Retrieved from

Butte, N., Cobb, K., Dwyer, J., Graney, L., Heird, W., & Rickard, K. (2004). The start healthy feeding guidelines for infants and toddlers. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 107(3), 442–454.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Important milestones: Your child at one year. Retrieved from

Eidelman, A. I., & Feldman-Winter, L. (2005). American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement: Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics, 115(2), 496–506.

Gavin, M.L. (2011a). Feeding your 1- to 2-year-old. Retrieved from

Gavin, M.L. (2011b). Learning, play, and your 1- to 2-year old. Retrieved from

Gidding, S., Dennison, B., Birch, L., Daniels, S., Gilman, M., Lichtenstein, A., Ratty, K., Steinberger, J., Stettler, N., & Van Horn, L. (2006). Dietary recommendations for children and adolescents: A guide for practitioners. Pediatrics 117, 544–559.

Hoeker, J. L. (2012). Infant growth: What’s normal? Retrieved from

Illinois Early Learning. (2012). Physical fitness for toddlers. Retrieved from



This document is FCS8888, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. First published: January 2010. Latest revision: July 2013. Please visit the EDIS website at


Anghela Z. Paredes, MS, RD, former dietetic intern, Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, and Karla P. Shelnutt, PhD, RD, assistant professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.