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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 (31-40):
by Member on Jan. 7, 2013 at 10:15 AM
2 moms liked this

For toddlers it best to let them graze throughout the day. I would offer them food not only at meal times but a few times in between also. It's better to teach kids to trust their own hunger ques then to teach them that they have to eat because its "dinner time" Because if your teaching them that they have to sit and eat even when they are not hungry, you could be setting them up for future issues such as overeating, eating "just because", emotional eating and a number of other issues.

PS: if your kid has sensory issues,  low weight or other health issues and just refuse's to eat anything then you might need to force feed but as long as the child is healthy meeting all milestones and gaining properly then there is no need to "make them" eat if they don't want to.

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 10:21 AM

my son doesnt show he is full. he can eat and eat and eat. but I dont let him. I control his portions though

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 10:45 AM

I read that a child will only eat if he/she is hungry. Therefore, I give my daughter child portions of everything and she usually cleans her plate. She weighs in healthy (not overweight) at the doctor and they are very happy with how she is. I am lucky because she is a great eater. Never really picky and she loves trying new foods.

by Member on Jan. 7, 2013 at 10:54 AM

I will make my kids eat at least a couple of bites of their main entree and veggies.  Other than that I don't make them eat it.  I have NEVER been a fan of making them clean their plate.  I don't make them eat snacks and only allow 2 snacks a day.  Boredom can become a reason or them to eat so I only allow 2 snacks a day and they are at the same time every day.  Helps to limit unlimited and bored snacking.

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 11:17 AM

hell i cant get him 2 eat very much food @ all so if he eats an adult potion of ANYTHING im amazed. hes 2 and barely eats a tablespoon of any food

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 11:33 AM

lol I definitely don't have an issue with my kids being overfed..

while I do serve larger portion sizes.. that doesn't mean they are going to eat everything on their entire plate! lol..

in fact most of the time they only eat half of each portion (or a bit more on some parts a bit less on others).. 

They know when their bellies are full, and so long as they at least TRY everything on their plate, and eat enough of at least one thing on their plate.. I'm okay with that.. 

as a result.. I have a 5 year old that LOVES broccolli and several other vegetables and fruits, and will eat them long before she'll eat most of her other options on her plate.. 

yes she is sometimes picky, but at least she'll choose veggies and fruits over most of the other junk options out there! :)She's eats far healthier than me even.. so I don't consider this a fail :)

by Member on Jan. 7, 2013 at 11:44 AM

My DD is 14 months and she eats however much she wants. if shes full I take her food away if shes still hungry I give her more. as long as shes getting healthy foods into her thats all the matters to me. she is also a picky eater 

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 12:02 PM

 I feed my son when he is hungry and never make him eat anything he doesnt want to. I may ask him to take a bite just to try to see if he likes it. I have forced water when he is in gymnastics and hasnt hydrated in a while. I think kids regulate well on their own. As the adult, i understand nutrition better than my 2 year old, but i cant feel if hes hungry or make him like things he doesnt. My son is a big boy, and likes to snack rather than eat a meal, he is healthy and active. I dont think i overfeed him.

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 12:05 PM

I don't think we overfeed him. We probably offer a little too big of portions for him, but he gets a small plate and we try not to put too much on it. He never finishes his plate, though, and we don't force him to. He is skinny as a rail and will go through phases where he can't stop eating and phases where we can't get him to start. It's pretty obvious to us when he is gearing up for a growth spurt I guess...

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM

 I've always started with small portions and if they asked for more, I gave them more. My children are very good eaters but my oldest (6) is having a picky phase, lol

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