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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?


  • Bmat
    by Bmat
    January 5, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    I didn't try to force adult size portions into the children. And if they said they were full, then they didn't have to eat anymore. So I don't think I was overfeeding them.

  • caro100
    by caro100
    January 5, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    We are a family of overweight adults, but i never was too worried about what my kids ate, except for the noveggies, except salad.  They both ate salad.  The MIL got them hooked on junk food when she kept them, so it was more a problem of getting them to eat the right things.  Anyway, they are now young adults and have weight issues *sigh*, but not as bad as their father and I .  They are both starting to eat more healthy and see my point, of eating healthier.

  • Aubreys_mommie
    January 5, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    this is a GREAT post! because not alot of parents-especially the younger ones- know this!!! i have a picky eater.. and he wasnt always that way.. he used to eat any and everything i fed him.. now its a struggle to get him to try new things.. i give him a smaller PLATE even than his step dad or i have at dinner time.. like the medium sized one instead of the full dinner plate.. i dont put alot of any one thing on it.. even if its something like mac n cheese (a classic fave).. and more often than not.. he will end up finishing his food and not have room for seconds.. of course he eats the mac n cheese right away and will ask for more of THAT.. but i remind him to eat his meat and veggies to get more mac... and he is full by then! it turns out to be a win-win.. he is full and happy.. and i didnt have to sit at the dinner table for an hour! lol 

  • alexis_06
    January 5, 2013 at 6:45 PM

     i never felt like i over fed my kid..maybe its because i grew up overweight, i was always (and still am) paranoid about how much my daughter eats.  i grew up in a household where whatever was on your plate HAD to be eaten, or you couldnt leave the table...i get that you dont want to waste..but..i HATED that rule growing up...if my daughter is full, she doesnt need to finish everything..but, that also means no dessert, or snack later...i ilke the idea for the age appropriate tablespoons per food tho.

  • Retrokitty
    January 7, 2013 at 12:03 AM
    It's seems like common sense to me lol. My baby is only 9 months but I give him a tiny bit of everything.
  • JTnJT
    by JTnJT
    January 7, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    My kids aren't picky eaters...and I'm not concerned that they are overeating...they are all very active, and well within the proper weights for their heights. 

  • mcknitro
    January 7, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    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.  

  • ZakkarysMom
    January 7, 2013 at 12:30 AM
    Thats because beef jerky is awesome. lol Love that stuff.

    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.  

  • NyiaBaby216
    January 7, 2013 at 12:36 AM
    I never thought I was over feeding, but I was thinking that DD wasnt eating enough. Shes a super picky eater, with a I like it now, but next week I'll hate it kind of attitude. Getting her to eat has always been a struggle, but shes gaining weight properly for her height so I guess she knows what shes doing.
  • BlessedMammaof2
    January 7, 2013 at 12:42 AM
    We are not overdeeding nor would I consider him a picky eater. We offer a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies and local organic meats. Granted there are some foods that go untouched on ocassion but there isn't any one food he always refuses. He definitely lets us know when he has had enough or when he wants more. He's always insisted on self feeding and I think that's helped him a lot with portion control.

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