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.
Thanks for stopping by,
Love you all ❤️
Linking up with:
Bad Dadu says
I’m happy if my children eat anything – although I’m lucky that my youngest loves fruit and vegetables. Particularly broccoli. Weirdo! #KCACOLS
Great post! It’s so easy to forget that they have tiny little stomachs compared to us and that they don’t need the smart level of nutrients as a full grown adult. Guidelines like this are so importation especially where junk food is concerned. #KCACOLS
mainy - myrealfairy says
My boys are eating more and more as they get older, they are slim and active and if anything I worry that they need even more food. The big struggle is not to have too many sweets, I don’t like it when we go to the kids parties and they come away with massive party bags full of rubbish food. It never turns out well!
Cheryl @ tea or wine says
This is so interesting! My 3 year old can eat whole packets of crisps at a time and has no problem eating full sandwiches. I can try and cut this down but will probably get told off! I’m guilty of giving bigger portions at dinner because I’m worried about under eating and of giving out sweets to calm certain situations! Definitely worth thinking about especially in light of the growing obesity problems. #KCACOLS X
Heledd @ Yummyblogger says
This is really interesting… I too seem to giving toddler W portions that are too big… But then I figure he burns it all off (doesn’t stop! Moving!!) and also there are days when he doesn’t eat much, so hoping it all balances out :0
Jade The Parenting Jungle says
What a gorgeous pic! when Leo was small I was always trying to get him to eat more and panicking that he would be hungry, he ate constantly but was still always slim on the 25th percentile..I think this offers positive guidance especially i.e with one biscuit being enough or the amount of crisps. Vitamins are fab too Leo still takes them as as much as we try get fruit and veg down him…it gives me reassurance his body is getting what it needs 🙂 Fab post #KCACOLS
Someone's Mum says
I have mixed feelings about this. While I think that guidance is generally good and some awareness of portion sizes is good, I don’t like one-fits-all generic advice like this. There is going to be a massive range in size, activity level and metabolism between any two 4 year olds, let alone 1 year olds and 4 year olds – just like there are with adults. My eldest eats much larger meals than suggested, and a mixture of healthy stuff and treats – but he is not overweight. Some kids genuinely do need more than that. Having said that, it is something to bear in mind. #KCACOLS
The Pramshed says
This is a really interesting post Franca. I am also so worried that my daughter doesn’t eat enough food, some days she eats loads and other days only a little. I can’t actually look at the picture at the moment as I have a little bit of a stomach bug, but it’s great that you now know the areas that you need to improve on. Fluids particularly, this is always such a worry for me, some days I think my daughter might only drink 1oz! Claire x #KCACOLS
Lizzie firstooth says
This is something that I needed to read today as I’ve been so worried about how little my two, especially my son, have been eating. I knew their portion sizes were tiny but this is going to be so helpful in going forward with feeding my littles, thanks lovely #kcacols
Mum in Brum says
I found this such an interesting read. Taylor is just like Sienna and loves her food! I’ve always seen it as a good thing and encouraged it, and to be honest I do think I much prefer it that way over having a fussy eater. But I have got a little relaxed with treat recently and she will have a whole packet of chocolate buttons or crisps, so I think I need to limit the treats. I also wasn’t aware that they should have vitamin D supplements either – shouldn’t the health visitors tell us that?! I need to get some! xx #KCACOLS
The Speed Bump says
I think it’s so hard to strike the right balance! I agree that portion sizes are something we really need to be aware of, but I think you can be too restrictive and children become scared of food or see it as a bad thing, which can cause bigger problems in the long term. I think encouraging them to choose the right foods and to move about as much as possible is just as important as portion sizes! (Although some of those portions seem genuinely tiny, I’d have a really cranky toddler on my hands if I tried those!). #KCACOLS
This is so useful. I just had a booklet like this given to me by the dietician (as my boy is very slight and borderline underwent) yet he eats like a trooper. It’s really quite surprising how much they don’t need isn’t it! #kcacols
Nicky Kentisbeer says
This was really interesting Franca and probably a shocker to many with little ones. I guess none of us have a benchmark when we start out so we adapt portion sizes according to what they seem to need and want. Even now, I notice how different children’s appetites vary enormously. Always generally room for sweets though! #KCACOLS
Kate (Along Came Poppy) says
Probably the best post ever 🙂 I stress so much about how much my little ones eat. I will most definitely be reading this again and again – thank you! #KCACOLS
Nadia - ScandiMummy says
Such an interesting read. Caspian isn’t a fussy eater and pretty much on track with sizes (I think after reading this), but he does have a healthy appetite. He’s got a habit of throwing his food on the food as soon as he’s had enough, which is a little annoying especially if it’s spag bol lol #KCACOLS
Nadia – ScandiMummy x
I think getting out of the habit of snaking is good for both toddler and parents. Like this a lot. #KCACOLS
New Mummy Blog says
I saw this too and was a bit troubled by in in that yes, it’s very informative, but H has so many different days. Some days she eats everything in the house and the next is much more picky and not hungry. Many friends have said similar, and I think there is so much going on with little ones between teething affecting appetite and growth spurts I think to an extent it averages out. What is useful is the ‘treat’ sizes. #kcacols
Silly Mummy says
Ooh I’ve always wondered about whether I give the right portion sizes & also worry I give too many snacks. &, like you, I have one child who does not eat a lot & one who will eat constantly if allowed. However, this is actually quite reassuring (smug alert) – my portion sizes are mostly in line & so are my snack sizes. In fact, I don’t actually give a lot of the snacks. I’ve never given them any crisps or sweets as I assumed they shouldn’t have them! I give them buttons occasionally, but only 2. I’m now thinking I’ve actually been a bit strict & mean about snacks for toddlers! Must crack out the wotsits! 😀 Very interesting! #KCACOLS
crummy mummy says
I’ve never really thought about portion sizes and have always let my two eat until they’re full…they’re not overweight and we eat fairly healthily so I’ve never really worried about it, but maybe I should give it a bit more thought!! #KCACOLS
Madeline (This Glorious Life) says
So interesting! The thing I find with both my children is that their appetites seem to vary loads from one day to the next. I’ve learnt to just trust them and follow their lead as far as the amount they eat goes, rather than fussing around trying to get them to eat more. x #KCACOLS
Ronald Segura says
This is a very interesting and helpful article, there is so many people around the world that only focus on giving their children anything they want and as much as they want, this behavior is responsable of many bad habits that we as in adults after they grow up.