It’s that time in your child’s life when the wonders of food are reintroduced with more variety, texture, and taste. Sundry gastronomic opportunities await toddlers, not exactly that you give a child, but definitely not that taken by infants either.
But then again, mothers may ask – just how different exactly is baby food from toddler food? Could you feed toddlers with baby food, and vice versa?
Babies have less developed digestive systems than toddlers and cannot digest solid food products. The safest for them to ingest should be liquid-based food, so they won’t have to chew, so to speak, devoid as they are of teeth. Breastmilk – or infant formula for that matter – is the only safe baby food especially in the first year of life. Because they have underdeveloped palates as well, babies do not need tasty food to survive and grow. This will come late naturally as they grow. Breastmilk, as the baby’s primary food, contains all the necessary nutrients babies need. So do not mistakenly feed your less-than-a-year-old infant other food products, thinking breastmilk would not suffice.
By this time, children would have developed a more sophisticated palate. With this also comes food preference, that is why moms usually find themselves at a loss for what to serve children at this age.
From largely liquid, tasteless milk, toddler feeding transitions to mashed carbs – potatoes, carrots, and commercially available toddler food with different flavors. Toddler feeding also transitions to spoons instead of bottles, with kids starting to explore the utility of their hands in feeding themselves.
These are normal parts of toddler development that gradually take place in every child’s life. Toddler feeding, as it becomes more varied, also gets more child-centered – from the mom feeding the infant to the toddler learning to eat by himself or herself.
Albeit more varied, toddler food nevertheless has limits. Carbohydrate-rich products are usually boiled and mashed only, free from garnishes and flavorings. Toddler food should still be easy to swallow, as kids still don’t have enough teeth for chewing.
Even with relatively more solid food for toddler feeding, toddlers can and should still ingest milk. While some stretch their breastfeeding periods up to as old as four years, this is an entirely case-to-case basis. Infant formula especially made for toddler age is often used.
On the other hand, babies must not at all costs be subjected to toddler feeding, their digestive conditions not apt for semi-solid food yet.
Toddler feeding is part of normal toddler development that should not be rushed. Feed your child the right way, giving way to normal toddler development in the process.