A handy guide to portion sizes for toddlers

Picture: iStock

Picture: iStock

The amount of food your toddler needs to eat will vary from day to day and from meal to meal.

According to the South African Medical Journal, obesity rates among children and adolescents in both industrialised and developing countries have reached epidemic proportions. An estimated one in five youngsters suffers from obesity, which is indicated by a BMI of over 30.

Exercise and a healthy, balanced diet are not enough to keep our children on the healthy side of the scale ­– we need to look more carefully at portion sizes.

According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Infant and Toddler Forum, we are eating too much. Of the 1 000 parents interviewed by the forum, almost 80% are feeding their four- to five-year-olds too much, while 10% of parents are feeding their children adult-sized portions.

How much should your child eat?

The amount of food your toddler needs to eat will vary from day to day and from meal to meal. A toddler only needs to eat approximately two to five tablespoons of macaroni and cheese in a meal.

• Taller, more active children will eat larger portions than shorter and less active kids.

Picture: iStock

• Toddler portions are only about a quarter to half of a normal adult portion.

• According to whattoexpect.com, a good way to calculate what serving size your toddler needs is to offer him a tablespoon per food group for every birthday he’s had. So, a serving for a three-year-old would be three tablespoons of fruits or vegetables, three tablespoons of grains and three tablespoons of protein.

• Don’t force your child to eat past the point when he’s full. This can backfire and teach him to ignore his hunger and fullness signals, which can lead to obesity later on in life.

• Remember that toddlers are generally bad eaters. There will be good days and bad days, but if your child is eating a variety of healthy foods in general, he is gaining weight, his development is on track, and he’s is active and energetic, rest assured that he is getting plenty to eat.

Click here for a portion guide for one- to four-year-olds.

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