When the children were babies, and started weaning, we did Baby Led Weaning and pretty much followed the mantra ‘food is fun until they’re one’ but as soon as they turned a year old everything changed. Like many parents I worried that they weren’t eating enough, or eating the right food groups. There were days when they would only eat fruit and others where they would only eat carbs – pasta, bread or mashed potatoes!
But really, looking back, I’m not sure I really knew how much they should be eating and so it’s a relief that Infant & Toddler Forum have produced a Portion Sizes Guide that shows exactly how much a toddler should be eating.
We’ve been using the portion size guide over the last week and it’s amazing the amount the children do eat compared to the recommended portion size for 1-4 year olds. For example, Little Man, at three, would happily eat one large jacket potato – complete with a filling, however the recommended portion size is just 1/2 – 1 ½ egg-sized potatoes. With that in mind LP and Little Man should probably be sharing a jacket potato as part of a meal rather than having one each.
Also, 1/4 – 1/2 of a medium apple is a typical portion size but LP and Little Man would both happily eat a large apple every day. The children would also happily eat two sausages with their dinner but should probably be having just one.
I know I’m not along in this. Infant & Toddler Forum’s survey of 1000 UK parents showed that 79% routinely gave their children portion sizes over the recommended guidelines – and I would definitely be part of that percentage. It also showed that 10% of parents gave their children close to adult portion sizes but 73% of parents worry that their children don’t eat enough. I know this is a big concern for many parents and one I have often worried about in the past.
The portion size guide and associated research has been eye opening for us. This isn’t just about whether the children eat enough – or too much, but also about them eating the right balance of foods. It’s definitely made me look at healthier choices for them and made me cut back the amount of processed meat and carbohydrates they have been having. Both of our children are nicely in proportion – with LP being actually very petite – but I feel like it’s good to get the food balance right now rather than worry about the amount the children are eating as they get older.
I loved watching this video from Infant & Toddler Forum which really shows, as a parent, we are expected to know everything. In this case it was good to learn something that I could put into practice straight away. Watch it yourself and see what you think:
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