How to Tell If Your Toddler Is Eating Enough
If you have a toddler, you’ve probably discovered that feeding a toddler isn’t the easiest of tasks. Chances are you offer them some food (preferably tasty and healthy food), watch them pick a few mouthful and the proceed to fling the rest across the floor. Then you worry whether they’ve eaten enough (especially if you have a dog who’s gobbled it all up so you’ve no way of knowing how much was left.)
How are you supposed to know how much your toddler is eating and how much they need to eat? Are they getting all the nutrients they need to grow? What happens if you have a toddler who won’t eat?
Or are they actually getting too much food? In fact, most parents worry that their toddler aren’t eating enough but many toddlers are being offered and eating too much food.
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Most People Offer Toddler Large Portions
Children need less food than most people think. Especially toddlers.
A good rule of thumb is to think of a portion as the amount a child can hold in their hand. You’ve seen how teeny tiny their hands are right?
If you want to be more specific, here are some examples. These are for children aged 1 -4.
- A portion of sausage is a quarter to 1 medium sized sausage.
- A portion of bread is 1/2 to 1 medium slice of bread.
- A portion of chips is 4-8 thick cut chips.
- A portion of apple is 1/4-1/2 a medium apple.
- A portion of cherry tomatoes is 1 – 4 cherry tomatoes.
- A portion of cookies is 1/2 -1 cookie (average size).
- A portion of jelly candy such as jelly tots or jelly beans is 2-4.
Yes, you read that correctly. It says a portion of cookies is 1/2 to 1 cookie, NOT 1/2 a packet of cookies!
How Can You Tell What Your Child is Eating?
Children have erratic diets and will eat loads of one thing at a time. My 4 year old son will happily eat garbanzo beans (high in protein) for lunch, watermelon for snack and bread for dinner. If you look at an individual eating session, you’d think he had a very restricted diet. But if you look at it over the entire day, he actually has a balanced diet.
The best way to see how much and what your child is eating is to measure it over a few days, preferably a week. This will give you a good picture and take into account those times when they didn’t want to eat or only wanted to eat one thing.
Write it down and have a look at it.
The Tot it Up Challenge by the Infant Toddler Forum is a great tool to help. You can sign up for a free account, then put in what your toddler ate. (I found it easier to write it down during the day and put it in at the end of the day. This explains how to use the Tool and you can grab a food diary to make it easier for you.) At the end of the day, the tool will tell you how you’re doing.
Modify What You Offer Your Toddler
The tool will tell you if your toddler is too much of one thing, or not enough of another. Or if they’re eating a perfectly balanced diet. Remember that it’s looking at what your toddler is eating rather than what you offer.
You may be offering lots of one thing and they aren’t eating it. That’s fine. Don’t pressure them to eat, just be aware of it and keep offering it.
You may find that they’re eating lots of one thing (ahem, cookies?) You can stop offering them too much and just offer them an appropriate portion.
Looking at what your toddler is eating a great way to gain confidence in what to offer your toddler. Now you’ll know exactly what they’re eating and what they’re not eating plus how much they should be eating. Unless of course the dog ate it when you weren’t looking.
This guest post was written by an amazing Pediatrician, Dr. Orlena Kerek. You will normally find her on the blog Snotty Noses: “Happy parents raising healthy kids by Dr. Orlena Kerek.”
Dr. Orlena Kerek’s approach to healthy balanced diets and handling picky eating is refreshing and REAL! She’s a mother herself, so her advice is based on the latest research, but also on reality. Check out the books she has written on the topic.