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Portion size for a 3 year old

(13 Posts)
Mij Fri 14-Aug-09 20:21:44

I have a short but otherwise entirely normal 3yr old DD, who's always blown hot and cold about food. We did baby-led weaning and I was very chilled about how much she ate (or didn't) until about a year ago, when Behaviour with a capital B started to influence what and how much she would eat.

I'm still hardly draconian about how much she eats, and if she hasn't chosen her own portion I don't insist she cleans her plate, but I seem to have lost the plot regarding what I think she should, on average, across a series of days let's say, be eating. I mean - half of what I eat? Less than that? Just as a guide..? I can't find anything definitive on the web. Anyone got any references I could check out? I think I may be giving her too nych on occasion.

She's pretty active too - gets lots of exercise almost every day.


Prosecco Fri 14-Aug-09 20:39:10

I have a 3 year old who is not a great eater- needs encouragement to eat- would much rather be doing something else. There is no way she eats half of what I eat. I think little and often is best for this age.
Here is what mine may have in a day

Breakfast- 1 1/2 weetabix

Snack- small piece of fruit or yoghurt

Lunch- 1/2 sandwich, some cucumber
or 1/2 slice toast and a few spoonfuls of beans or scrambled egg

Snack- a biscuit or sweetie

Dinner- small (child) bowl of spag bol or tiny amnount of chicken, 2-3 baby potatoes ands some veg etc.

She regularly picks at either lunch or dinner unless I sit encouraging her.
If she is hungry she asks for something- fruit usually but if she has a banana before dinner she never eats it. She has managed to develop a sweet tooth though.

She eats like a sparrow but thrives on it.

Prosecco Fri 14-Aug-09 20:40:31

I mean she never eats dinner if she has a banana- that fills her up for a few hours

pistachio Fri 14-Aug-09 20:41:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WhatFreshHellIsThis Fri 14-Aug-09 20:42:53

Same here, DS1 doesn't eat much at all, he's 3.4. Typical day:

9oz bottle of whole milk on waking

Breakfast - small bowl of cereal (about half an adult's) with whole milk

Snack - banana or biscuit

Lunch - small bowl of soup and one slice of bread and butter, fruit or yogurt for pudding

Tea - half a crumpet or biscuit or raisins

Supper - pasta with tomato sauce and cheese - about a quarter of an adult portion, I'd say. Fruit or yogurt for pudding

And that's about it! he eats a bit more on nursery days as he's very very active there.


suiledonn Fri 14-Aug-09 21:15:17

Its good to see our dd1 is not the only child like this. She is 3.3 and also eats like a sparrow. She has only recently been able to eat half a slice of toast and has never eaten a sandwich of any sort. She rarely finishes a whole banana.

A good day is like this:

a small bowl of (not very healthy) cereal and milk. Could never get Ready Brek into her and Weetabix doesn't agree with her.

Snack: a small apple or a few grapes or a plain biscuit or a breadstick

Lunch: I make her homemade veg.soup a lot as it is about the only thing she likes at lunchtime. Sometimes has a sausage

Snack: yoghurt and breadsticks

Dinner: a tiny portion of spag bol or a small potato, small quantity of chicken/fish or similar and lots of veg

Bedtime: about 5ozs milk

She does like her fruit and veg. and loves her bedtime milk but the rest she could take it or leave it. NEVER says she is hungry and rarely asks for food.

I find lunch the hardest as she doesn't eat sandwiches, beans etc and is allergic to egg.

stubbyfingers Fri 14-Aug-09 21:22:09

I remember seeing a Baby Whisperer programme where the mum was worried about her toddler not eating enough. The Baby Whisperer woman showed her that her DD's stomach was actually only the size of a small orange - like maybe the size of your fist? - and so really can't fit that much into it. This is also cited as a reason why toddlers need small snacks to keep up their energy in the day isn't it?

Mij, I personally think you've got the right idea of letting her decide when she's full. As long as she's not snacking on treats instead of meals, it must be good for toddlers to leran when they are hungry and when they are not.

Mij Sat 15-Aug-09 22:35:07

Thanks for responses, they've helped in lots of ways, particularly in clarifying exactly what it is I'm bothered by, and it's two things: a) me misjudging how much she can/should be fitting in and encouraging her to eat beyond her appetite and thus teaching her to overeat, and b) the fact that I can no longer trust her when she says 'I'm hungry' or 'I'm full' cos that can mean a wide variety of other things (I'd rather have a biscuit/I'm not getting enough attention/I don't fancy my tea but will chance my arm that if I say I'm done I'll be able to get something different in half an hour).

I found a BMI calculator on an NHS website, which adjusts for age and height of kids. She's within the healthy weight range, but only just, she's right at the top of it. I'm certainly not considering restricting her diet but both me and DP had noticed she was looking a wee bit chubby (no-one would say she looked overweight) but it got me thinking if I've been pushing too much food on her, and was why I checked the BMI thing.

I think I've ended up encouraging her to eat because she faffs about so much at mealtimes, (mostly for attention and because she'd rather be playing) and perhaps have over-done it a bit.

I read somewhere recently that a portion size for an adult is about the size of your palm. Are kids hands in proportion enough to apply the same rule, do you think?

iwantitnow Sun 16-Aug-09 09:00:22

Told by a dietician at the hospital that they should eat about two of the childs fists lot of food at each meal. Remember at this age they aren't growing at the rates they did as babies - I do wonder if I should have worried more about DDs food intake under the age of 18 months (did BLW too) than now when she is nearly 3.

Does she drink alot of milk, by the age of 3 most children don't need to be drinking milk on waking and going to bed and definitely not in vast quantities like they did as babies as their rate of growth now is so much slower.

nannyL Sun 16-Aug-09 10:33:50

depends on the 3 year old

my 3 year old charge eats the same amount as me (or more)
other 3 year olds i know would eat 1/4 of my portion!

others anywhere in between!

RumourOfAHurricane Sun 16-Aug-09 13:09:42

Message withdrawn

anchovies Sun 16-Aug-09 13:32:25

My ds is on the top end of the healthy weight range (he's 3 and a half) but very, very active. He eats quite a lot I think but like others it totally varies from day to day.

Yesterday (a very hungry day!)
Breakfast - 2 weetabix and a slice of toast
Snack - banana
Lunch - Pitta pizza (a whole pitta bread with passata, cheese ham and peppers
Snack - plum and raisons
Tea - 3 fishfingers, half a potato and peas, yoghurt

Some days he would eat less than half of that though.

I never encourage him to eat and serve small portions so that he would have to ask if he wanted more (which makes him eat less!)

Mij Sun 16-Aug-09 21:07:17

iwantitnow she has a breastfeed on waking (lentil-weaving credentials fully on the table now...) but breakfast is the meal she makes the least fuss about and will often ask for extra cereal. I'm considering mummy-led weaning in the next few months but as she has a brand new sister I didn't want to do it too close to her birth in case she resented it. So far she's been very good about sharing 'her' boob wink.

Of course they're all different, and also want different amounts on different days. Maybe I've overstated my position - I am still, relatively, chilled-out about food but because DD had started arsing around and literally eating one mouthful of food before deciding 'I not hungry', only to scream bloody murder two minutes before lights out, and after teeth had been brushed etc etc, because 'I staaarrrrving Mummy' I felt I had to start ensuring a certain amount of grub went down the hatch.

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