Over at Super Healthy Kids, Amy answers a question about toddler servings:
My friend and neighbor Liz, asked me this week, what appropriate portion sizes are for a toddler. It’s tough to use the old rule of letting their appetite dictate how much they eat, because when my kids were toddlers, they would often be “too full” for the rest of their dinner, but somehow have plenty of room in their little tummies for dessert!
In her answer she gives a sample menu with quantities and calorie counts.
I still like the old rule. We can’t control what our children eat, but we do decide what is available. And toddlers don’t really have room for dessert on a regular basis. You can argue that if you are too strict about sweets and snack foods it will backfire but I’m not convinced. Even if you feel that way, though, offering desserts on a daily basis is too often.
I am fairly strict about what I buy, but don’t ask my children (except for toddlers) to refuse sweets when they are offered. I still respect parents who are strict about sweets all the time. No one can say how much sugar or processed food is okay for a child to eat.
Many of us enjoy sweets and want them in the house. But part of being a parent is modeling good habits for our children, so I suggest keeping those foods on a high shelf and saving them for after the kids are in bed. Desserts other than fresh or dried fruit can be for weekends or birthdays.
Amy and I agree that if a child is eating healthy food, it’s safe to let a child decide how much. But how much do you offer? My rule of thumb is one tablespoon of each food at every meal, multiplied by the age of the child. So a two-year-old can get two tablespoons each of meat, potatoes, and carrots. If he wants more, give it and if he doesn’t, the meal is over.
Counting calories or portion sizes is unnecessary and can become an obsession or a power game. It’s more important to notice whether a child is growing and developing normally, especially if there are changes.
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