Sample 1 Year Old Feeding Schedule

Published November 10, 2021
By Renae D'Andrea

As your baby turns a year old, a lot of changes are happening! From naps, to milk, becoming more independent, throwing tantrums, and an evolving feeding schedule, everything is changing. For your one year old, a feeding schedule that is fairly consistent is one of the best things you can do to navigate this transition.

The Importance of a Feeding Schedule for Your 1 Year Old

When it comes to feeding your 1 year old, it’s all about a routine and timing. Having a routine and a flow to your day can help with everything from encouraging your toddler to try new foods to increasing the variety of foods that they will consistently eat.

How are these two things related? When you have a consistent routine to your day, you can help to remove any pressure around eating for your child.

They don’t need to wonder when they’re going to get food, and they start to figure out that if they don’t like a new food, or want to eat a food they’ve seen before, that there will always be the next eating opportunity just a little bit away for them to fill their bellies.

This in turn gives you the opportunity to offer them a variety of healthy foods without having to worry that they haven’t fully met their needs at any one eating opportunity. There is a lot of confidence to be had in that knowledge!

Obviously, our 1 year olds can’t tell time. But they can understand the flow of their day. They know that perhaps they wake up and have some milk, and then breakfast, and then play, and then snack, and on and on. They sense the routine, and it provides them comfort and the ability to explore their limits within that routine.

How to Handle Breast Milk, Infant Formula, and Cow’s Milk During This Transition

Now that we’ve established the need to have a bit of consistency in their day, you might be thinking “well great, but there’s no consistency when everything is changing right now!” And I so feel you! Think of consistency as our end goal, and right now we’re just setting the stage to get their and doing our best.

Breast Milk and Nursing After 1

When it comes to milk, there are a lot of different options on how to proceed. If your child is still getting breast milk, whether from nursing or a bottle, there is absolutely no need to stop. They don’t need any other milk, and it is a great option for them for as long as you want to continue.

For lots of information on breastfeeding and breast milk after one, check out this post

Infant Formula After 1

If your child is getting formula, around one is the time we recommend making the switch to cow’s milk or another suitable plant-based option.

After 1, the nutrients in whole milk and some plant-based milks are suitable to meet their needs, and formula is no longer needed. Whether they’re down to just a few ounces of formula or are still getting quite a lot, it can be much more expensive, and unnecessary, for toddlers.

Along these same lines, there is no need to serve your 1 year old a toddler formula. Many of these have added sugars, are full of unnecessary things, and are just not needed.  

Making the Transition to Milk

Whether you are giving breast milk or formula, transitioning to cow’s milk or a plant-based milk can be stressful. Some kids respond best to a cold turkey approach, others need it to be more gradual. For lots of tips and tricks on making this transition, check out this post

What Meal Times Should Look Like at 1 Years Old

Before we get into our sample schedules, let’s talk a bit about how mealtimes should look for your child, and the rest of the family in general. 

By your child’s first birthday, we really want them to be fully on table foods. No matter if they started with finger foods and baby led weaning, or purees. By one, we really want them to have made the transition completely to table foods just like you eat.

Choking Hazards to Be Mindful Of

Of course, at 12 months there will still need to be some texture modifications made for safety. Be mindful of choking hazards like popcorn, hot dogs, chunks of peanut butter, hard candies, and chips, to name a few.

Wedges or thick slices of vegetables and fruits (think carrots or apples here) are also choking hazards as they can break off into chunks that can block their airway. For a full list of choking hazards for toddlers, head to this post on the top choking hazards for kids under 4.

At the end of the day, one of the best ways we can avoid choking incidents, though, is to ensure that our children are sitting down and not moving while eating. This includes trying to limit distractions when possible, not letting them walk and eat, and not feeding them in a stroller or car seat.

Make the Transition to Open Cups!

If you haven’t already started, one of the great skills we can teach our kids is to use an open cup. Open cups are actually a great first cup for babies, and are excellent to use right when they start eating as a 6 month old baby! If you haven’t started with your child, it’s not too early, or too late!

Outside of open cups at mealtimes, straw cups are a great option for on the go. We want to avoid your traditionally spouted sippy cup, as that can have unintended consequences for speech and mouth development. A straw cup is a much better choice when you need a lid outside of meals.

For their milk, if they are not nursing it is time to make the transition away from bottles. Aim to be completely off bottles by 18 months at the latest.

Stick With Water or Milk at Meals

When it comes to what to put in their cup, stick with water or milk. There is no need for juice or any other drink. If you do choose to give juice, keep it to less than 4 oz a day and do your best to dilute it. 

Keep Your Toddler in a High Chair

For the foreseeable future, it is going to be least distracting for your child to be in a high chair. If they are uncomfortable or no longer fit, it is best to transition to a toddler chair or booster seat with some form of foot rest. It is important that they are still secure, it isn’t easy for them to stand up or climb out, or just get down whenever they feel like it. Keeping them in a well fitting, secure chair will help to put the focus on the food instead of how they’re sitting. 

Foods to Serve at Meal Times

While we want our toddlers to be fully on table food, it is important to modify it so that it is safe, as with the choking hazards, and so it isn’t too difficult for them to eat. This might mean serving some things in finger foods sizes (think fingers of bread as an example here) or as small pieces. For that, I like to think in terms of how you might cut it to eat yourself. There isn’t usually a need to make an appropriately textured food really small. Simply making it bite-sized so they aren’t struggling to get it in their mouth is what we’re looking for.

There is no need to serve your child large portions. In fact, it tends to be less overwhelming, and end up with more food eaten, if you start by serving a small amount. A piece or two of each food you serve is all they need to start with, and then offer more as they finish a food. Head to this article for more help with what portion sizes to serve.

Stick With Balanced Plates and the 3 Category Plate

If you haven’t already started serving your foods this way, using my 3 category system for serving balanced meals for the whole family makes meals much simpler.

Aim to serve an iron-rich food, a high-calorie food, and a fruit or veggie at each meal.

While iron needs are not as high as they were before 1, kids under 2 do still have a fairly high rate of iron deficiency. It is still very important to focus on serving iron-rich foods daily, preferably at every meal.

If you’re worried about iron-deficiency, the only way to really know is to ask your child’s pediatrician to test it. Many pediatricians here in the US have the ability to do a heel prick hemoglobin test in their office. And in fact, it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for all children by their first birthday.

Making the Transition from Milk First to Food First

The year between their first and second birthdays is all about transition. And when it comes to food, that’s no different. Before one, we prioritized milk. After one, we want food to be the priority. But it’s not something that you can just flip a switch for.

Think of it more like having the year between one and two to make the switch, so that by two they really are considering food to be their primary source of sustenance.

In order to help them make this switch, it is going to involve us starting to offer them a morning snack and an afternoon snack. They might not need it right at one, but they might. By two, we definitely want them being offered two snacks a day.

When it comes to the timing of these snacks, simply aim for 2-3 hours in between any eating opportunities. 

Sample One Year Old Feeding Schedule

And now, let’s get to the schedules. When looking at these, think of it more in the sense of a routine and flow, and not the specific time. If your child wakes earlier, your routine will start earlier but can maintain a similar pattern. If your child takes a longer nap, still aim for the same interval between eating.

One Year Old Sample Schedule:

 Still Nursing & Napping Two Times a Day

7:00: Wake and nurse

8:00: Breakfast

10:00: Morning snack

10:30: Morning nap

12:30: Lunch

2:30: Afternoon snack

3:00: Nurse

3:30: Afternoon Nap

5:30: Dinner

7:00: Nurse and bedtime

One Year Old Sample Schedule:

 Weaned to Milk & Napping Two Times a Day

7:00: Wake up

7:30: Breakfast and milk 

10:00: Morning snack

10:30: Morning nap

12:30: Lunch and milk

2:30: Afternoon snack

3:00: Afternoon Nap

5:30: Dinner and milk

7:00: Bedtime

One Year Old Food Schedule:

 Still Nursing & Taking One Nap a Day

7:00: Wake up and nurse

7:30: Breakfast

10:00: Morning snack

12:30: Lunch

1:00: Nurse

1:30: Afternoon Nap

3:30: Afternoon snack

5:30: Dinner

7:00: Nurse and bedtime

One Year Old Food Schedule:

 Weaned to Milk & Napping Once a Day

7:00: Wake up

7:30: Breakfast and milk

10:00: Morning snack

12:30: Lunch and milk

1:30: Afternoon Nap

3:30: Snack

5:30: Dinner and milk

7:00: Bed

Implementing This Can Get Tricky!

As your child starts to gain independence, feeding can get tricky. They push boundaries and see what they can do. One of the best things you can do to help your family get through this transition and have a great feeding relationship is to focus on how you feed instead of what you feed. 

Having a schedule that is pretty consistent day to day is one aspect of that. For more help with getting your feeding relationship off on the right foot, check out Mastering Mealtimes. To help you get your mealtimes set up before they become a real problem. And so you have a plan in place for how you will feed your child for the next 17 years!

Need help with mealtimes?

Mealtimes are about so much more than just the food. And they don't have to be full of battles over food or behavior! For help with how to structure meals so they are not a dreaded part of your day, grab the course Mastering Mealtimes

  • Thanks for this. We are in the second schedule (18.5 months old—I know he would do fine with one nap, but he is still taking two and it’s working fine). For a long time, it has been very common for my son to only eat three meals and one snack, or sometimes just three meals. He doesn’t seem hungry for that extra snack, and often when I offer it, he is not interested. He is a happy, thriving, super energetic little boy, so I try not to worry about it. But no schedule I’ve seen accounts for only three meals, or just three meals and one snack. What are your thoughts?

  • Hi my baby (toddler 13 months) is a late sleeper! Hi goes to bed at 9pm and wakes up at 9. Has breakfast around 10 and sleeps two hours from 12 to 2pm. He then has lunch and a bottle at 4:30. Has dinner at 7pm. Where do I give him snacks?? Thanks for everything! I love your blog and Ig posts! You have fans from Uruguay south America!

  • Do you only give milk with meals in a sippy cup? Do you give them anything before naps?

  • Thank you so much for writing this article. It was very helpful. If 1 year old is still nursing every 3-4 hours, how do you suggest incorporating snacks? (Baby is napping twice a day) Do you suggest some Nursing sessions to be weaned. Thank you- 1st time mom

  • Thanks for some guidance Renae! I haven’t taken much notice of these types of schedules before and really try to follow my sons lead… but I’ve hit a bit of a snag and not sure what to do. He is 2y 3m and has been consistently eating a morning snack for a while (Mostly due to playgroup fruit time), but whenever he has an afternoon snack after his nap, dinner is a nightmare and he barely eats a bite. So I have not been offering an afternoon snack… in the last couple of weeks he’s saying he’s hungry of an afternoon but we still have the same problem at dinner time if he eats then. I feel awful telling him to wait for dinner if it’s still 1.5-2 hours away, so not quite sure what to do! Any advice?

  • Thank you! Perhaps you have done this elsewhere but I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old and it would be great to figure out a schedule of feeding that works for both. Both nap at same time, so that helps! Thanks

  • Great post! Although I know these aren’t set in stone, it’s nice to see a sample schedule with only 1 nap. Of course, our schedule is shifted and he sleeps later, since that’s the only way I can get work done while working from home with him not in daycare due to COVID-19.

    My son just turned 1, and his doctor said to take him off of bottles and only give milk at meal times. Being that he was getting bottles around his naptime and only drank a little bit of water at meals, he’s not wanting to drink milk (pumped breast milk) at mealtimes, and I don’t think there’s any way he can get in 16 ounces. Any tips for this transition?

  • newwaysnutrition says:

    Hi Kim! They should be alright on the same food schedule if they nap at the same time as well.

  • newwaysnutrition says:

    Nursing can be in place of snacks as it is a form of snack.

  • newwaysnutrition says:

    I would suggest water before naps instead of milk if they require a drink before nap.

  • newwaysnutrition says:

    Hi Mili! You can just adjust the times from 7 to 9 to still get a good idea.

  • newwaysnutrition says:

    Everyone is different and that includes our toddlers. Just do what works best for you!

  • Had the same question – this helps, thank you!

  • Hi! Baby (12 months next week) goes to sleep around 12 and husband is afraid to give her food too close to naptime, so lunch is being pushed to 2 hours later when she wakes up and snack is given at 10:30. Do you think that lunch at 11:30 is too close to naptime? I was thinking about 9:30 for snack and 11:30 for lunch.

  • Renae D'Andrea says:

    In general most babies are fine with eating right before sleeping!

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