A guest blog by Freya, mum to Noah and author of Simply Mothering Solo
Do you sometimes wonder if your little one is eating enough? One day they seem to eat everything in sight, and others they simply don’t seem interested. Or maybe they always seem to leave most of their meal on the plate – or the floor! I’m sure we all worry about their eating habits at one time or another. Here are some thoughts on toddler eating and working out your toddler’s appetite.
Working out what’s normal for your little one
For the past 6 months or so I’ve been worrying about Noah’s appetite or lack of it, it doesn’t matter what I make him, he rarely eats more than half his food. When I did BLW he would eagerly try anything I gave him and I would so look forward to mealtimes! I loved watching him explore new tastes & textures, learning more about his likes & dislikes – he’s a fellow carb lover like his Mum!
Noah’s appetite steadily grew until around 18 months and he just didn’t seem as interested in his food anymore. I tried new recipes, making silly faces with his food or his favourite animals, letting him choose his snacks from a small selection and getting involved with making meals. All of which were good fun and cooking together quickly became part of our routine – but they didn’t encourage him to eat like I’d hoped.
For a few months I kept an eye on his intake, reassured by the fact he was healthy and as energetic as always. But as he quickly approached 2 years old I thought it might be worth a mention to a health visitor. She suggested shifting my focus from what he doesn’t eat to what he does eat, and during the week after I could see that Noah was in fact eating enough. It was actually my portion sizes that needed looking at!
After their 1st birthday children’s growth naturally starts to slow down and naturally so does their appetite. How much they eat varies day to day depending on how active they are, if they’re having a growth spurt or if they’re feeling under the weather. It also varies depending on their weight and height. Toddlers are generally pretty good at regulating their own food intake and eating just as much as they need. However because of my large portion sizes Noah tends to fill up on his favourites, which means he’s missing some vital food groups.
With portions getting bigger everywhere from packaged meals to cafes, restaurants and takeouts, it’s understandable that our portions at home increase too. But since reducing my portion sizes Noah’s eating a wider variety of foods and he’ll eat most of the food on his plate – plus I’m not wasting so much!
As a general rule of thumb I include 3 or 4 food groups with meals, and 1 or 2 food groups per snack time. For example, Noah’s recent favourite for dinner is chicken, veggies and rice or for snack time, a few cheese cubes and 2 crackers or a rice cake. He often enjoys fruits for breakfast so I don’t always offer more with morning snack, but in the afternoon I’ll offer half a banana or half a pear with a yogurt and we’ll share one of Grandma’s cheese scones.
The NHS’s rough guide is 1 portion being the amount they can fit in the palm of their hand. An alternative rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon for each year of age being equal to 1 portion. Another good tip is to use children’s size plates and bowls – being smaller they’re not as easy to overload as adult plates! This is another reason why Doddl cutlery is brilliant – because they are specially designed by experts for baby and toddler use, they are the perfect size and shape to help your child.