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Do you think you're overfeeding your toddler?
January 5, 2013 at 11:02 AM

You're Probably Overfeeding Your Toddler

Posted by Michele Zipp on January 4, 2013 

toddler eatingWhat my son eats or doesn't eat is a constant worry in my house. He's a very picky eater. A drinker, yes indeed. Hopefully that doesn't translate to when he's older and a big drinker means something not as adorable as a kid who loves his milky. And yes, I know drinking too much milk isn't a good idea either.

My daughter, his twin sister, can eat and eat and eat and sometimes she eats everything on her plate then starts working on what her brother hasn't eaten. Unless it's fish. She doesn't like fish, and my son will eat all of his fish and all of hers. But he can't eat fish every day. Even though I tried it once for a week and, by the end, realized he didn't like it so much anymore.

It seems though that maybe, just maybe, we are overfeeding our kids. Big surprise, right. We are a nation of super-sizing. Maybe our warped minds are just trying to get too much food down our kids' throats and we need to do some portion control. Yes, that's exactly it. 

Our toddlers and preschoolers still have tiny little bellies. Their stomach is about the same size as their clenched fist. Tiny! So let's take a look at these guidelines given to us by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ... that I paraphrased.

-- They say to start with a small serving size, which means not adult size portions, tiny little kid fist portions. Start small and let the child ask for more if still hungry. If you have a picky eater, the words "more please" might make you as happy as "I love you."

-- For each food item served, they suggest giving a tablespoon per year of age of each food. So if your kid is 3, give him 3 tablespoons of fish, 3 tablespoons of broccoli, and 3 tablespoons of cheese. (I can't believe this is enough, but it's what they are saying! Plus, they say start small and then give more as wanted so that seems about right. This IS about healthy eating habits.)

-- If your kid says she's full or starts picking apart the broccoli and throwing it you, it's time to remove the food. All done here! We need to respect that even if they ate two bites.

-- The "clean plate club" is for losers. Well, if your kid just gets in that "club" because she likes to eat, then great. If not, then no worries and no forcing.

I sure feel better about my picky eater now. He's gaining weight appropriately, going potty and all that, and is a happy kid, so I should have trusted my instincts. But when you grow up with an Italian family, eating a lot is the norm. And worrying about your kid eating when you're a parent comes with the honor.

Now that you've read this, do you think you were overfeeding your kids? Does this make you feel better about a picky eater?


  • butterflycircle
    January 7, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    I actually look at my toddler and am so happy with how healthy and on target growth wise he is. My daughter is 7 now and when she was his age she was a little chubbier than my son is now. She has never had a weight problem and she is not over wieght or anything and she doesn't over eat either and she is my picky eater lol. 

    I let my kids tell me when they have had enough to eat. I have never forced them to finishe everything. If it is dinner time and they say they aren't hungry I might see if they will try to eat something, but if not that is ok too. 

  • JavaLadybug2
    January 7, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    What I want to know is WHAT IS THE RIGHT PORTIONS..

    I can look at the food piramid all day long.. that information isnt there.. or is in greek.. 

    And now that it isn't a piramid.. and is a plate.. I still don't have a magic plate that screams hey stupid you filled me too full


  • -PB
    by -PB
    January 7, 2013 at 8:57 AM

     lol  I'm lucky if I can get my tot to eat 3 tablespoons of food a day let alone each food item at each meal.  That's probably why shes in the 5% in weight.  :-(

  • charity62
    January 7, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    no i do not

  • MommyO2-6631
    January 7, 2013 at 9:41 AM
    Mine is still ebf so no overfeeding here!
  • Kaya529
    by Kaya529
    January 7, 2013 at 9:42 AM
    So I should just keep doing what I have already been doing :)
  • wanntawn
    January 7, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    Thank you for posting this! My twin girls are 14 months old and had a slight oral aversion. Now they love to eat our food! I now know that I am offering them a little too much. I have been giving them about 2 tbsp of each item I put on their plate. Also though they rarely eat it all. Sometimes they do and I will give them more because they will freak out and scream when I take the empty plate away. So I will give them a little bit more and then some water afterwards. Like I said though that is a rarity. But I am happy now knowing that they are eating about the right amount. :) Thank you again! :)

  • mamaeagle216
    January 7, 2013 at 9:53 AM
    My picky 2 year old daughter lives on chicken nuggets and turkey hot dogs. I offer her some of whatever we are eating and she flat out refuses. Didn't have eat for two days Becuase everyone said oh if she's hungry she will eat what is in front of her. Wrong. She had milk for two days and I said to heck with everyone else. If she wants nuggets and hot dogs so be it. So we started buying whole grain, all white meat Tyson nuggets and turkey hot dogs. Makes me feel a lil better lol.

    Quoting mcknitro:

    I also have a picky eater.  Definitely not over feeding here.  I just wish she would eat her meat and not the "chicken nuggets"  Hate those things, but she loves em.  Funny though, I found on our last road trip that she likes of all the meats "Beef Jerky":) Wont touch stake or pork, but will eat Jerky.  

  • IntactivistMama
    January 7, 2013 at 9:58 AM
    My 22 month old is 60th percentile for height but 3rd for weight. He was breastfed for 14 months, too.

    He will eat nearly anything, including dried seaweed (lol.)

    He eats plenty - just long and slim like us. We feed him full fat dairy/eggs, veg, grains, fruit, pulses etc etc.

    I am trying to get him to gain weight as his doc seems to be a little worried. I am not so worried. DS feeds himself and eats how much he needs to. I believe there is a bias toward children being heavy in the USA.
  • MommaTasha1003
    January 7, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    DD has always been a small eater.. I personally think this goes back from her being breastfed.  She still has a small stomach & never over ate because I never had her "finish that bit of bottle"...

    Now when she says she is full. she does not have to eat anymore. but she does have to take a bite of food she dislikes if she thinks she is going to get desert afterward.

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