Baby eats… how much?

September 3, 2009 at 12:01 pm Leave a comment

How much food is too much?  And how much is too little?

How much food is too much? And how much is too little?

First… my apologies for my absence for the last little while.  It’s been a bit crazy around here.  My son started daycare this week (sniff, sniff) and I am about to return to the 9 to 5 world next week (sob, sob).  I was very, very lucky to have an extended maternity leave but now it is time to suck it up and get on that streetcar every morning.  I am looking forward to more of a routine, because I thrive on that; but it has been really hard seeing someone else take over my favourite job, taking care of my son, for most of the day.  This is my transition week.  While ‘little t’ is at the sitters I am getting things done I haven’t made time for in the last long while, a non-rushed hair appointment, shopping with friends, a massage (!!!!), and I really must get a mani-pedi before going back to work right?!?! Oh – and catching up on my blogging! It is going to be interesting for me balancing my blogging & my nutrition business with the 9 to 5, but as long as I enjoy it, I can do it!  I will continue to post weekly (?!) and I hope to share more recipes and ideas for balancing full time work and providing nutritious meals & snacks.  I believe it can be done!  I always love your thoughts, comments & questions so keep them coming!

How much food does my child need?

Lately I have been getting a lot of questions on how much food is too much or too little for your little one.  So here are the general guidelines & thoughts when it comes to feeding your baby.  Next week I will follow up with a post on feeding your toddler.

From My Child Won’t Eat! by Carlos Gonzalez M.D. “…the comment ‘eat your food so you’ll grow’ is actually incorrect.  Children eat because they are growing.  When they are growing quickly their bodies need lots of calories.  When their growth slows down, they don’t need to eat as much.”

I think this is a very important comment to absorb and think about.  We are so in tuned with the 3 meals a day plus 2 snacks mentality that there is often a little panic if our babies want to eat more frequently or suddenly eat less.  I will put the portion guidelines at the end of this post because I don’t want it to be your first focus.  You need to focus on how much your child ate during the week.  I find that if you do this you will find that over a week your baby is most likely getting exactly what is required. You also need to remember that regardless of you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, for the first year of life your child is getting all of the nutrition required from  breastmilk or formula.

Is my baby eating too much?

Babies are smarter than adults because they actually know when to stop eating!   They understand that fullness feeling, that adults sometimes ignore, so trust that your child is eating a lot because he or she is hungry at that particular moment.  One sign that your child really is eating too much is if your child is puking after a big meal. This is not the same as chewing on the food and then randomly deciding to spit it out.  If a child finishes eating what you instinctively know is too much and later throws it up you need to try the following…

  • Focus on how much food is on your child’s plate.  If after that meal your child throws up, next time only serve 1/2 of the amount.
  • Every 2 weeks add another tablespoon of food and monitor closely.  You need to slowly add food because everyday your child gets bigger and may indeed need more food.
  • Try to feed your child several small portions throughout the day, not one or two big meals
  • Check what you are feeding your child.  Could there be an allergy?  If you have introduced a new food remove that food from your child’s diet for 2 weeks before trying it again.

Is my baby eating too little?

Sometimes the growth slows down for babies and they just don’t need as much food as they did the week before.  Sometimes they are teething and they just are not interested in food.   Sometimes they are just picky!  Click here for my previous thoughts on picky eaters.  Remember, for the first year, they are getting the nutrition they require from your breastmilk or formula.  If your child is not eating and losing weight, there is a problem and you need to visit your family doctor for guidance and monitoring. You need to add more calorie dense, healthy foods to your child’s diet.

Healthy fats should come from Omega 3 sources and naturally saturated and mono-saturated sources.  Do not add fried foods to your child diet.  Click here to learn more about food introduction rules & allergies before adding some of the foods suggested below.  Include:

  • Dairy: High fat organic yogurt and cheese products (after 10 months), some butter is okay too.
  • Oils: Add flax seed oil to your child’s smoothie or cereal.  You can also saute vegetables in olive oil, but don’t go overboard, just use a little.
  • Seeds: flax, sunflower seeds, sesame, seeds and pumpkin seeds offer healthy essential fatty acids – be sure that you are comfortable with these foods regarding allergies, add them slowly. Grind them in a coffee grinder and add the ‘dust’ to cereal, fruit, vegetables, etc.  Rolling a banana in ground pumpkin seeds would make them easier for little fingers!
  • Fish: If you are comfortable adding fish to your baby’s diet, the are a source of healthy fat
  • Nuts:  almonds are a great addition.  Adding a scoop of almond butter to a smoothie or oatmeal up the healthy fat content and flavour!  Go here for more information on nuts & seeds. Stay away from commercial peanut butter, it has too much sugar and peanuts are the worst in regards to nut allergies.
  • Beans: Add legumes because they are a healthy carbohydrate and a rich source of protein.  Grind up some beans and add them to your child’s cereal.  Cook up lentils as a dish.  Give your child steamed vegetables to dip into hummus.
  • Meat: Lean meat will help your child gain some weight.  Chicken and turkey are great choices
  • Healthy Carbs:  Carbohydrates should be from whole grain sources and fruit and vegetables.  Whole  spelt, brown rice, oats, quinoa and barley are all great grains for your child’s first year.
  • Fruit & Vegetables: These are great sources of food.  I would recommend the healthy high fat avocado above all of the rest!
Food Guidelines – Start by feeding your child once a day, but work up to 3 small meals a day.  By one year, your child should be eating a small amount every 2 to 3 hours.  Remember to look at the week, not the day.  Did you child eat a lot one day and not much the next?  Is your child teething?  Have there been changes in the family routine?  These are all factors in our children’s eating habits.

  • 6 – 8 months – 1 to 2 Tbsp per meal
  • 8 – 10 months – 2 to 4 Tbsp per meal
  • 10 – 12 months – 2 to 4 Tbsp per meal
  • After one year – 4 to 10 Tbsp per meal

4 Tbsp = 1/4 Cup

Remember these are GUIDELINES, use and trust your intuition.  Some kids eat more and others eat less.  Watch your child for unhealthy changes in weight. Talk to your doctor.

6 to 8 months

1 to 2 Tbsp/meal


Entry filed under: 10 months, 6 & 7 months, 8 months, 9 months, Allergies, Breastfeeding, Cheese, Dairy, Good Grains, How much food?, Introducing Food, Nuts and Seeds, Protein, Tips for Picky Eaters, Yogurt. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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