Transitioning at 12 Months & Eating routines

Content source: Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion


  • Eat the same food of your kids
  • Don’t prepare separate food for your kids.
  • Eat with your children: avoid distractions during the meals. Sitting together on the table for the meals is a great way to go!
  • Don’t force your children to eat or give rewards.
  • Create a routine for the eating time – offer 3 meal at the same time every week; before eating time give a heads up “we will eat in 5 minutes”; have a routine activity before eating such as washing the hands. This will give time for your kids to come down.
  • Invite your kid to serve his/hers own food. If you are serving the food, put a small portion to start with.
  • Don’t make your kid stay at the table after everybody is done but give him/her a time to finish the meal (for example 30 minutes). After that, save the food for later for if your kid wants to eat it in the next meal/snack time.
  • Avoid food that have added sugar such as candies, cookies, and processed food.
  • Allow your kid to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are satisfied. Offer 3 meals and 2-3 snacks at the same time of the day every day during the week and let your kid decide when they will eat.

To support the health and development of your children, here are some important points to consider:

  • Honey before 12 months may cause a serious type of food poisoning. Before your child is 12 months old, do not give him or her any foods containing honey, including yogurt with honey and cereals and crackers with honey, such as honey graham crackers.
  • Prefer pasteurized drinks or foods, including milks, yogurt, or cheeses, to avoid severe diarrhea.
  • Foods with added sugars or artificial sweeteners are not recommended for children younger than 24 months. Foods with added sugars can include muffins, flavored yogurts, or cookies. Check the Nutrition Facts Label to find foods with no added sugars.
  • Sugar-sweetened drinks (such as soda, pop, soft drinks, flavored milks, sports drinks, flavored water with sugar, and juice drinks) contain added sugars. These drinks are different than 100% juice. Children younger than 24 months old should avoid added sugars.
  • Foods high in salt (sodium), such as some canned foods, processed meats (e.g., lunch meats, sausages, hot dogs, ham), and frozen dinners should be avoided. Check the Nutrition Facts Label.
  • Cow’s milk before 12 months old may put your baby at risk for intestinal bleeding. It also has too many proteins and minerals for your baby’s kidneys to handle easily and does not have the right amount of nutrients your baby needs.
  • Tea, coffee, and sports drinks, should be avoided for children younger than age 2. They contain caffeine and there is no established safe limit for caffeine for young children.


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