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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 (41-50):
by New Member on Jan. 7, 2013 at 1:16 PM

 DD isn't a picky eater at all. She will eat everything you give her but I portion out her meals to prevent her from over eating.

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 1:46 PM
My child can eat as much food as He wants until He is full as long as its not Junk and stop eating when He dosent want anymore.
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by Sarah on Jan. 7, 2013 at 1:46 PM

this was a great article, thanks. my ds has been a good eater the whole time but recently seems to skip lunch sometimes or only take a few bites from it. i think my problem perhaps is offering him too many snacks. we normally give him a smaller plate than us, not exactly what's reccomended here but it's something i could be more aware of. so, yes, i took something from this.

by Bronze Member on Jan. 7, 2013 at 1:50 PM

My kids were never very big eaters. They have never been picky but they've always eaten very small amounts at a time. They were low birth weight, so I tried to be consciously aware of not overfeeding them just to compensate for their low birth weight. My rule has always been, at least take one bite of everything, then you can eat what you want. My husband tried to enforce the clean plate rule, because that's how he grew up, but I wont make them eat if they are not hungry. They decide when they are full, and decide when they want more.

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 2:45 PM
My daughter is tiny, and the pediatrician keeps telling me she is on the slender side, but she eats evvverrrryyyytttthingggg! She is a big eater. Is it because she is so active? Has anyone else experienced this? She is the 98th percentile for height, but below the 50th percentile for weight. I know she's healthy, but in the back of my mind I keep worrying.
by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 4:07 PM

we seem to feeding just the right amount for our picky and nonpicky eaters. whew

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 4:13 PM

I give my kids a quater of what I would consider an adult portion. If they are still hungry I offer more. My ds cleans his plate regularly and sometimes asks for more. DD on the other hand will eat half of what I offered her unless she really really loves it. I don't push and I try not to fuss about it. 

by Bronze Member on Jan. 7, 2013 at 4:20 PM
1 mom liked this

My 2.5 yo DD is like that, too. She will rarely eat chicken breasts or anything like that, but she likes crawfish tails and fried calamari....

Quoting mcknitro:

I also have a picky eater.  Definitely not over feeding here.  I just wish she would eat her meat and not the "chicken nuggets"  Hate those things, but she loves em.  Funny though, I found on our last road trip that she likes of all the meats "Beef Jerky":) Wont touch stake or pork, but will eat Jerky.  

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 4:30 PM

I think that my son eats well...I give him a smorgasboard of food to choose from...he always has a veggie, fruit, protein and a carb for lunch and dinner (he eats oatmeal with raisins or another fruit for breakfast).  Sometimes he'll eat everything, sometimes he'll just pick at it.  I never worry if he's eating too much or too little because he's always been at a healthy height and weight.  I've always tried to train him to trust his hunger level and I've never made him "clean his plate".  He also only drinks milk and water; we don't keep juice or soda in the house.

by on Jan. 7, 2013 at 4:52 PM
My kids eat when they're hungry and I don't make them eat when they aren't. All 4 of them go through spurts where it seems they eat a lot and others I wonder if they receive any nutrition from the small amount they managed to actually get in their mouths. Three of my children are tiny, but healthy. The doctor just says they make their own growth curve under the "normal" kids. I do have one that is average height, but he's still skinny. So, I'd say my kids are not over eating.
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