Hola chicos, knowing what and how much to feed our kids is not easy. I know many of you might be asking yourself the same question, “How much food is too much food for toddlers?”. Since having my girls I’ve always worried if what they are eating is what they need. With Bella I always worried if she was eating enough as she was a fussy eater. She was and still is very difficult with food. She is getting better though but it has always been a rollercoaster journey for us. I have always worried about her weight as she is very slim buy thankfully she has never been unhealthy. On the other hand, I have Sienna who is totally the opposite to Bella – she will eat the whole house! If we have a little human bin, I promise it will be her, LOL! I know it sounds awful but it’s true, 😉
Sienna really likes her food so be careful if you want to take something from her plate as she will fight until she gets it back. She will eat until the last portion and will probably ask for more. I really feel that she could potentially explode one day, LOL!
Knowing what are the correct portions sizes for her age (almost 2 years old) are really important for me at the moment as I really don’t want her to be overweight and therefore unhealthy. When I heard about The Infant and Toddler Forum (ITF) and their Tot it Up Analysis challenge, I was really eager to take part and find out what Sienna’s results would be.
Firstly, so you know a little bit more about ITF, they promote best practice through reliable, clear, evidence-based advice and simple, practical resources aimed at healthcare professionals, families and a wider range of stakeholders in early years and child health. Its resources and published outputs undergo external peer review by national experts to ensure the information is accurate, balanced and consistent with health priorities, in the context of current and emerging policy.
Early nutrition and its implications for later health are a public health concern and everyone’s responsibility. The ITF aims to work in partnership with other organisations, professional groups, commercial organisations and policy makers that share its mission, to ensure that better advice informs and influences practice and ultimately behaviour, so that all can benefit from a body of impartial, evidence-based guidance and best practice about feeding, healthy eating and development.
The ITF is launching the #rethinktoddlerportionsizes campaign to help take the guesswork out of how much is enough including a guide to the correct portion size range for children aged 1 – 4. Parents are expected to have all the answers and when it comes to feeding toddlers, it can be hard to know how much food to offer. These guides are practical, visual, user-friendly and evidence based.
A survey of 1000 UK mums and dads revealed that 79% of parents routinely offer portions bigger than the recommended size range for toddlers when offering popular meals, drinks and treats. It’s clear that guidance and practical advice for parents is lacking.
See the video below:
The survey, which involved parents looking at images of portion sizes, also revealed that more than 10% of parents usually serve their child close to an adult-size portion of spaghetti bolognaise or cheese sandwiches.
However, 73% are more concerned that their child does not eat enough. There was a tendency for parents to use food or drink between meals to comfort their children, with 36% of parents using this method to calm children down when they are upset. I must admit that I’m very guilty of this too as I think food is the only thing that will distract and comfort my girls. I will need to be smarter and find different distractions.
Also, check these numbers:
- 71% of parents routinely offer their child a bigger portion of crisps than recommended for this age group. More than a third of parents usually offer their preschool child a whole bag of crisps: this is nearly twice the recommended amount
- 65% of parents routinely offer too much squash/fruit juice, with 31% often giving portions that are double the recommended amount for children of this age.
- 61% of parents routinely offer their child too many sweets, with 24% of parents giving their child a whole pack of jelly sweets as a treat: this is 3 times the recommended amount
When we took part in the challenge I realised that we were not doing that bad but we do need to improve in a lot of areas. Apparently Sienna needs to drink more fluids. I thought she was drinking a lot but I guess I was wrong, so I will be offering more fluids more often going forward. I also realised that I’m not giving her Vitamin D supplements which is something that I will amend asap.
I must admit that when I started checking the portion sizes for her age group (1 to 4) I was really surprised to see that those portions were really tiny! Sienna is capable of eating a whole pack of crisps and not just 6 or 8 that were suggested. The same with cereals and bread. She can eat a whole slice of toast but she should eat just half. I will need to do a serious amendment at home and change her actual portion sizes for the the ones suggested in the ITF website.
The 10 tips for healthy toddlers below are suggested by the ITF:
- Eat together as a family and make mealtimes relaxed, happy occasions
- You decide which nutritious foods to offer but let your toddler decide how much to eat
- Offer foods from all five food groups each day
- Have a routine and offer three meals and two to three snacks each day
- Offer six to eight drinks a day
- Give vitamins A & D each day
- Respect your toddlers’ tastes and preferences – don’t force feed
- Reward your toddler with your attention – never give food and drink as a reward, treat or for comfort
- Limit: fried food, crisps, packet snacks, pastries, cakes and biscuits to very small amounts and sweet foods to four times a day and avoid sweetened fruit squashes, fizzy drinks, tea and coffee, undiluted fruit juices , whole nuts
- Encourage physical activity for at least three hours every day and about 12 hours sleep
I think we should be more careful of the portion sizes that we give to our kids. We need to try to avoid any tendency towards obesity and if for any reason we think we are going towards that direction we should stop. We need to encourage healthy eating for our kids. I highly recommend you to browse around their guide of portion sizes and if possible do the challenge. Get the most of this free service. You can find more about them on Facebook and Twitter and search for #rethinktoddlerportionsizes.
What do you think of this survey? Do you think you might be having this problem too? Could it be possible that you are feeding your child too much? What do you think about the portion sizes? Will you be keen to also register and take part of the challenge? Please leave me a comment below as I would love to read what you think.
*Disclaimer: I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not been paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have received a voucher in return for writing this post.
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