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Foods and Drinks to Encourage

Assorted fruits and vegetables cut up into chunks, placed by small jars containing pureed versions of the same food.

Healthy eating patterns your child starts now will help promote healthy habits in the future. It is important to provide foods that match your child’s eating skills. At first, foods may need to be soft and mashed or bite-sized. Visit Tastes and Textures for more information.

Encourage Your Child to Eat

Offer your child a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats, and yogurt or cheeses. Make a rainbow of different colored foods on your child’s plate. Here are a few examples:

  • Fruits: bananas, strawberries, pears, oranges, melons, or avocados.
  • Vegetables: cooked spinach, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, or beets.
  • Whole grains: whole grain breads, crackers, or pastas.
  • Meats: soft, small pieces of beef, lamb, chicken, fish, or turkey.
  • Dairy: pasteurized yogurts or cheeses.

Once your child is 12 months old he or she may be eating more of the foods that you eat. Eating a healthy diet sets a good example for your toddler. Continue to offer a variety of healthy options and allow your child to choose foods to eat.

Encourage Your Child to Drink

When your child is between 6 and 12 months old, you can offer your child:

  • Water (4 to 6 ounces per day).
  • Breast milk (if you are still breastfeeding) or infant formula.

Once your child is 12 months old, you can begin offering fortified cow’s milk.

For ideas on different meals or snacks for your child, visit the USDA’s What’s Cooking page.