IMAGE Paolo Zaragoza (food) and mamano.me (toddler)
When babies starts eating solids, it's exciting because more often than not, your little one takes in anything you offer them. It's a different story when they’re old enough, become picky, and insist on choosing what to eat. We end up worrying if they are even getting enough to eat.
A new parents survey, while done in the U.K., shows the same concern with 73% of parents worrying their children are not eating enough. (Only 25% of parents worry that their child might become overweight in the future.) As a result, anxious parents (79 percent of those surveyed or one in 10 moms and dad) end up regularly offering bigger portions of popular meals, such as spaghetti, chicken nuggets, chips, drinks and treats, than the recommended size range for toddler and preschoolers.
"Most toddlers are naturally better than older children and adults at regulating their food intake. They usually only eat what they need and don’t overeat. However, portion size is critical," says Gill Harris, Child and Clinical psychologist and member of the Infant and Toddler Forum (ITF). He adds that consistently offering larger portions could alter their body's perception of how much is an appropriate amount to eat, and it affects the child's overall eating habits.
So what is the right portion size for toddler and preschoolers? ITF evidence-based study provides a guideline of practical food portion sizes for toddlers and preschool-age children. We like how they showed the food on a 9-inch plate and a small glass bowl that's 4 3/4-inch in diameter. It makes it easier for us (and the caregivers!) to remember visually how much food we should really be giving our child. There was a lot on the list, but we honed in first on a few foods high in sodium and sugar. See below.
Plain round biscuit = 1/2 to 1 biscuit Cupcake = 1/2 cupcake or 25 grams Sticky rice pudding (e.g., champorado, kakanin) = 2 to 4 tablespoons Cereal bar - 1/2 to 1 20-grams bar
Any kind of crips or chips such as potato chips (picture below), corn chips, and even vegetable chips should be kept to a minumum 4 top 6 pieces.
The maximum amount allowed for toddlers is only 6 to 10 thin French fries from fast food restaurants.
Mayonnaise, salad cream vinegarette = 1 to 2 teaspoons Gravy = 1 to 2 tablespoons Tomato ketchup or brown sauce (e.g. Mang Tomas) = 1 to 2 tablespoons
According to the ITF, toddlers under age 2 have lower energy requirements so limit high-sodium foods from none to one serving a day. Sweets, on the other hand, should be served on occasionally, no more than one item once a week.
This is just the first part of our feature on portion sizes for toddlers and preschoolers. Stay tuned to see the proper portion sizes for carbs, protein, fruits and veggies.