I think this is a topic any of us with a toddler has struggled with. You see them being picky eaters, sometimes so bad that they will only eat a bite or two, and you wonder if they are getting any nutrition at all. It turns out that they are getting more than we think. I recently read an interesting blog post about serving sizes for small children over at Your Kids Table and it really opened my eyes to how much I was looking at my childs eating habits but not factoring in his size or ability read his own body cues.
When we first had our newborns one of the biggest feeding tips that stood out to me was “they will stop eating when they are full” whether it was breast or bottle, your baby will detach when they have had enough. I always accepted that and just stopped when my kid let me know he was done. But now I find myself trying to push him to eat more when he says he’s done when I should trust him that if he’s says he’s not hungry then he means it.
My biggest takeaway from reading that piece was that if we really sit back and thought about how much our kids were eating throughout the day, they were stacking up just fine. It is said that toddlers should be eating around 1000 to 1200 calories throughout the day between three meals and two snacks. Here are some examples of serving sizes:
1 oz of grains= 1/2 cup of oatmeal or pasta, 1 slice of bread, 5 crackers or 1 cup of dry cereal (3 servings daily)
1 cup of dairy=1 cup of milk or yogurt, 3 slices of cheese (2 servings daily)
1 oz of protein=1 egg, 1 tablespoon nut butter (peanut, almond, etc), 2 tablespoons hummus, meat the size of a pack of gum (2 servings daily)
1 cup of fruit=1/2 large apple, 1 large banana, 32 grapes, 8 strawberries (1 serving daily)
1 cup of veggies=1 cup cooked or raw veggies, 2 cups leafy greens (1 serving daily)
When I look at my childs food intake throughout the day, he defiantly hits that. A banana at breakfast and boom, his fruit intake has been met. Even during snack time, they are getting what they need. My biggest downfall was not factoring in just how small the serving size for a young child is. They do not need that much food. It’s hard to watch our child take three bites and be done but instead of pushing food, we should be encouraging our children to listen to their bodies and know when they are done instead of forcing them to “finish their plate.” Harsh stances like that tend to factor into poor eating choices as children get older.
Do you have a picky eater? What methods have worked for you to make sure they were eating a healthy amount for them?