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Do you think you're overfeeding your toddler?

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You're Probably Overfeeding Your Toddler

Posted by Michele Zipp on January 4, 2013 

toddler eatingWhat my son eats or doesn't eat is a constant worry in my house. He's a very picky eater. A drinker, yes indeed. Hopefully that doesn't translate to when he's older and a big drinker means something not as adorable as a kid who loves his milky. And yes, I know drinking too much milk isn't a good idea either.

My daughter, his twin sister, can eat and eat and eat and sometimes she eats everything on her plate then starts working on what her brother hasn't eaten. Unless it's fish. She doesn't like fish, and my son will eat all of his fish and all of hers. But he can't eat fish every day. Even though I tried it once for a week and, by the end, realized he didn't like it so much anymore.

It seems though that maybe, just maybe, we are overfeeding our kids. Big surprise, right. We are a nation of super-sizing. Maybe our warped minds are just trying to get too much food down our kids' throats and we need to do some portion control. Yes, that's exactly it. 

Our toddlers and preschoolers still have tiny little bellies. Their stomach is about the same size as their clenched fist. Tiny! So let's take a look at these guidelines given to us by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ... that I paraphrased.

-- They say to start with a small serving size, which means not adult size portions, tiny little kid fist portions. Start small and let the child ask for more if still hungry. If you have a picky eater, the words "more please" might make you as happy as "I love you."

-- For each food item served, they suggest giving a tablespoon per year of age of each food. So if your kid is 3, give him 3 tablespoons of fish, 3 tablespoons of broccoli, and 3 tablespoons of cheese. (I can't believe this is enough, but it's what they are saying! Plus, they say start small and then give more as wanted so that seems about right. This IS about healthy eating habits.)

-- If your kid says she's full or starts picking apart the broccoli and throwing it you, it's time to remove the food. All done here! We need to respect that even if they ate two bites.

-- The "clean plate club" is for losers. Well, if your kid just gets in that "club" because she likes to eat, then great. If not, then no worries and no forcing.

I sure feel better about my picky eater now. He's gaining weight appropriately, going potty and all that, and is a happy kid, so I should have trusted my instincts. But when you grow up with an Italian family, eating a lot is the norm. And worrying about your kid eating when you're a parent comes with the honor.

Now that you've read this, do you think you were overfeeding your kids? Does this make you feel better about a picky eater?

by on Jan. 5, 2013 at 11:02 AM
Replies (11-20):
by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 12:48 AM

My DD eats as much as she wants. I would never tell her she couldn't have more if she wanted it. She's right in the normal limits for height and weight. 95% in both. Her ped is happy and says she's healthy.

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 12:55 AM
No I don't think I am, my son was a fat BF baby, now he's almost 2 and he has slimmed down a lot! I used to worry about hs eating habits but his pediatrician convinced me he was just fine and that I shouldn't worry about it so I don't. I feed him healthy with occasional treat here and there.
by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 1:31 AM

 I tell the kids I baby sit that they need to finish their protein, fruit, and veggies, but if they are full they don't need to eat their carbs.  Unless there is dessert, then they need to eat it all or they don't get a candy, cookie, whatever.  If there isn't room for healthy food their isn't room for junk food.

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 1:34 AM

My mother used food as a weapon. either forcing me to eat too much of food i hated, or not feeding me at all. 

i refuse to do that to my child. she eats normal 'kid size' servings. if she wants seconds of veggies then she gets it. but she only gets one helping of the meat and startch/protien. 

but i never force her to 'clean her plate' 

and i never say 'you arent hungry you just ate!'

if she is still hungry, we have a large glass of water, and some more veggies :) 

by Platinum Member on Jan. 7, 2013 at 2:35 AM
my kids are not picky. they are both big eaters. when they say they are done there's no arguing but I will cut them off sometimes. most of the time they eat more than I do!
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by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 5:59 AM

I'm not overfeeding my son. I encourage self feeding and I watch his cues when I feed him. When he is done with his lunch or dinner he shares with the dog.

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 6:29 AM
1 mom liked this

Kids are tiny humans, so they eat when they're hungry. If my kid finishes everything on their plate, they get more food. If they barely touch their food, that's fine too. Sometimes I'm not hungry either. I also give them small plates instead of the large dinner plates. But I also don't think the tablespoon "rule" is accurate. Some children eat more than others. That doesn't mean that they're being overfed, they just have a higher metabolism than another child.
by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 6:38 AM
My son eats more than the suggested serving. Much more. He had trouble gaining weight for like 3mo, even eating 5 healthy meals and 2-3 snacks. He stayed between 18-19lbs.

That finally stopped and he now weIghs 21, but I really doubt he would gain ANYTHING with the suggested amount. He has a (fast/ high) metabolism like his father.
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by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 7:36 AM

I don't think that I overfeed my son. I let him tell me when he's hungry, I never know how hungry he really is, some days he is a garbage disposal! Other days he doesn't want to eat to much. I always start off with small portions and if he wants more, he will tell me. I think that he idea of "cleaning your plate" is setting kids up for failure.

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Those "portion sizes" never held true for my DD.  She can eat me under the table and has been able to do so since she was 2.  I feed her what I know she is capable of eating.  If she doesn't finish what I consider a decent amount then she doesn't leave the table or she eats it for the next meal (this only occurs if she doesn't want what she has been given for lunch or dinner).  I have never felt like I was over or underfeeding her, but always giving her what she wants.  BTW this is the same kid that I have had to train to eat her meal in a specific order or she won't eat her protein at ALL unless it is fish.

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