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Thursday, August 21, 2014
Keeping your toddler at a healthy weight can be challenging. Try these tips to keep your toddler’s weight within a normal range.
Not sure how much to offer your child? Try this for a general rule for portion sizes for toddlers: one tablespoon per year of age. For example, give two tablespoons to your 2-year-old and offer three tablespoons to your 3-year-old of the following food groups per meal:
Your toddler can have one-quarter to one-half of an adult portion. BUT, that is for the standard adult portion, not the extra-large servings Americans usually eat. For example, an adult serving of meat or poultry is the size of a deck of cards and a serving of pasta or rice is a half-cup. That is very important to remember when you put food on your toddlers’ plates.
For toddlers, it is critical to limit snacks, sweetened beverages and desserts. These foods replace healthy foods that your toddler should be eating.
Focus on the size of the main dish you offer your child. According to a recent study at Penn State University, children ages 3 to 6 had a lunch consisting of:
As expected, when children got a smaller amount of macaroni and cheese, they ate more of the fruit, vegetable and whole grain on their plate. In fact, the children ate 90 percent more of the lower-calorie foods when given the smallest amount of macaroni and cheese.
And do not worry--none of the kids left hungry! Even children with the smallest portion of macaroni and cheese still left about 5 percent on their plate. They also left most of the green beans, about half of the apple sauce and almost half of the roll.
Lastly, always remember that young children need healthy foods just like older kids and adults! But they just need smaller portions. For more healthy eating tips for toddlers and preschoolers, see the Choose My Plate website at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers.html.
Savage, JS.; Fisher, JO.; Marini, M.; Birch, LL. “Serving smaller age-appropriate entree portions to children aged 3-5 y increases fruit and vegetable intake and reduces energy density and energy intake at lunch.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, v. 95 issue 2, 2012, p. 335-41. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22205315
Points to Remember
Many research studies are underway to help us learn about childhood nutrition. Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:
This article originally appeared 1/20/2012 in Chow Line, a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.
Last Reviewed: May 24, 2012
Julie Kennel, PhD, RD, CSSD, LD
Director of Human Nutrition Dietetic Internship
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University