Have you ever wondered if you are feeding your toddler enough food? Or too much food? Do you know how much food to dish up for your child? Sometimes it is difficult to know how much is enough!
A good guide is your toddler’s appetite but it can be difficult to judge when they have had enough, especially if they are a fussy eater! Remember that toddler’s appetites will vary from day to day and try not to expect them to eat the same amount each day. It is better to look at your toddler’s average intake for the whole week to assess the amount and variety of their diet over this time period.
A good rule is that you decide what your toddler eats, and they decide how much they eat!
So how can I tell when my toddler has had enough to eat?
Try to pick up on the “clues” that your toddler gives you when they have had enough. Don’t be tempted to urge your child to finish everything on their plate. Try to watch for these signals that your child has had enough:
– turning their head away
– pushing a plate away
– shutting their mouth
– refusing to swallow or holding food in their mouth
– crying / screaming
– spitting food out
So what should I feed my toddler?
It may sound obvious, but it is important to feed your child a variety of foods from all food groups:
Food group 1 – bread, pasta, potatoes and other starchy foods
Offer at each meal and some snacks
Food group 2 – fruit and vegetables
Offer 1-2 portions at each meal and at some snacks
Food group 3 – milk, cheese and yoghurt
Serve about 3 times per day*
Food group 4 – meat, fish, eggs, nuts and pulses
Offer 2 – 3 times per day
Food group 5 – foods high in fat and sugar
Up to a maximum of twice per day**
*Take care to avoid excessive amounts of milk and other dairy foods as they can decrease the appetite for other foods especially iron-containing foods.
**These foods add enjoyment to meals but as they are high energy and low in other nutrients they should be limited.
Remember…children aged 1-4 years don’t need portion sizes as big as yours!
The Infant and Toddler Forum is a great website with lots of useful tips and information for parents and carers: www.infantandtoddlerforum.org
Look out for the section on ‘Little People’s Plates’ and their fantastic ‘Tot it Up’ calculator where you can enter everything your toddler has eaten and drunk in one day and get a general overview of their diet and an idea of the balance of food they need. Have fun with it and enjoy!
Another great website is the First Steps Nutrition Trust – they have some fantastic pictorial resources. See: http://www.firstepsnutrition.org