How much should my toddler eat?

September 10, 2009 at 8:10 am Leave a comment

Parents are always concerned that their children are not getting the nutrition they need, and with toddlers it is even more difficult as it seems they never want to sit down to actually eat.  This post is a follow up to my post on how much babies should eat.  (Click here!)

I would like to re-quote the following:

From ‘My Child Won’t Eat! by Carlos Gonzalez “…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 eat as much.”

and add to it…

“Babies in their first year of life … are growing at a tremendous rate, so they eat a lot.  Toddler’s growth slows down in the second year, so their appetites diminish too.”

So your toddler won’t sit still to eat.  The child who shovelled back peas and brown rice cereal as a baby won’t touch it now!  There are many factors when it comes to food and toddlers.  It definitely does not become easier.

Is my child eating too much?

Signs of overeating would begin to show at this time with weight gain.  If your child is starting to surpass the guidelines for weight for their age and you and your doctor are concerned,  there are some questions you need to ask yourself.

  • How much candy does my child eat?
  • How many refined (white flour) products is in my child’s diet?
  • How much processed food do I give my child?
  • How much juice is my child drinking?

Before asking yourself these questions though I caution against mentioning weight issues to children.  Slowly change their diet and take a positive focus on how the new food is healthier to avoid saddling your child with guilt and a poor body image.

Candy, white flour, processed foods and juice are calorie-rich and nutritionally void. I understand that it gets harder to feed your child well as life gets busier and your toddler gets busier as well, but it is important to ensure that as often as possible your child is getting WHOLE FOODS.  Candy and processed treats are ‘sometimes’ food. Food you get sometimes, not always.  This is an important time to teach your child that some foods are treats and for special occasions only.  Do you remember as a kid only getting soft drinks when company came?  It was so exciting!  This is an experience your child needs as well.  Thinking that these foods are a regular part of a diet is setting them up for the same battle with diets that many adults struggle with daily.

Juice does not have much to offer. Stripped of the fibre, juice provides a natural source of sugar, but it is still sugar.  Juice can cause tooth decay and unhealthy weight gain.  If you want to give your child juice make sure it is watered down or put some fruit in the blender and give it a whirl.  If you can avoid juice, do so.  Get your child comfortable with drinking water.

Good treats and snacks for your child

  • veggie and dip
  • whole fruit with yogurt
  • bean dips like hummus
  • nut butters (natural & unsweetened)
  • smoothies
  • homemade muffins & cookies (you decide how much sugar is in them and be sure to use whole grain flour)
  • Check out this past post for some healthy dip recipes! (Click Here!)

My child won’t eat anything!

This can be scary for moms & dads.  You sit down your child and nothing ‘goes down the hatch’.  Before panicking, as I have mentioned before, consider the following:

  • How much has your child eaten over the last week?  You may not have realized that your child ate lots of food over the last few days and now just doesn’t need as much
  • Is your child teething?  I don’t like to eat if I have a headache, can you imagine if you were getting new teeth?
  • Has there been a change in routine?  Have you recently returned to work?  Are you moving?  Any lifestyle change can affect a toddler’s desire to eat.

I have put below some general ‘Tips & Tricks’ for feeding a toddler.  However I must mention that if there is a serious concern and signs that your child is not eating well; and this includes weight loss, lack of energy, poor skin tone you need to visit your doctor and take a no-holds-barred approach to feeding your child.  With this I mean that you should give your child what he or she wants.  Try to add a few nutritious goodies here and there.  Get the weight up.  And may I add make an appointment with your favourite nutritionist?

Tips & Tricks for Toddler Meals

Give your toddler the power to choose, just make all choices healthy ones.  Fill a muffin tin or colourful bowls with healthy snacks that your child can choose from throughout the day.

Give them a section of the refrigerator. Provide a section in the fridge just for your child.  Let him or her pick from there whenever hunger strikes.

Allow your child to dip their food in healthy dips.  Avoid sugar-laden ketchup or unhealthy creamy dressings (recipes here!)

Let your child play with food.  There are times when it is good to play with food.  Dipping, stacking or topping foods makes them comfortable with what they are eating.

Cut it how they like it.  If your child likes her sandwich cut into four, grant her that simple wish.  Use cookie cutters for a fun treat.

Be a Role Model. Kids want to eat what you eat.  Don’t expect your child to eat sweet potatoes if you don’t.  Include your toddler in meals and make sure you are getting your fruit and vegetables as well.

Keep portions small. Small kids equal small tummies.  Trust your toddler when he says that he is full.

If it’s healthy, let them eat it. Don’t worry too much about breakfast meals and dinner meals.  It’s okay to let your toddler eat a traditional breakfast at dinner time.

Let them help. Once your child is old enough, let him help you make some dishes.  Look for cookbooks with kid recipes.

Don’t make meals a battleground.  Sometimes mealtime is the one time your toddler can assert her independence.  Give her a choice (do you want sweet potatoes or brown rice with dinner?).


Entry filed under: breakfast, Drinks, Finger Food, How much food?, Tips for Picky Eaters, Toddlers. Tags: , , .

And the winner is…. This Moms Likes: Dinosaurs!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

My Tweets!

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Join the Food Revolution!

The Food Revolution

Become a Fan on Facebook!

LkM Nutrition on Facebook

Get updates on blog postings, upcoming events and what else might be going on in the world of kids nutrition...

%d bloggers like this: