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Portion sizes for a just turned 3 year old

(13 Posts)
notyummy Tue 11-Aug-09 13:00:40

OK - maybe this should be in food or health - but I thought I would try here first!

DD (3 this month) is just edging into the overweight bracket on the NHS BMI calculator for children. I know kids go up and down, but equally I don't want her to become one of the frightening stats on overweight children in this country.

I was wondering what size of meal people feed kids of this age? She eats healthily the vast majority of the time, and we try and ensure she is physically active (TV only 4/5 days a week for no more than 30 mins, swimming lesson, walking rather than buggy, in the park running around on days when she is not at nursery etc etc.)

I can't help wondering then if portion size is perhaps an issue - I must confess to not weighing out rice and pasta for her - just putting what looks like no mor than half of we would eat in the pan. The silly thing is that I do weigh our rice and pasta because I am aware that many people put far too much in. What a reasonable portion of carbs for a pre-schooler?

For a packed lunch at nursery she generally takes in a sandwich (2 slices of bread with chicken or chees filling) plus a banana and a muesli bar.

She doesn't have crisps (well, apart from at parties etc). We don't eat chips/pies/white bread. Sometimes she will have a scoop of icecream or a choc chip cookie after her dinner, but she has fruit first.

Any advice gratefully received!

(BTW DH and I try to set an example - we are healthy weights and exercise a lot, so hopefully she will pick up on that.)

notyummy Tue 11-Aug-09 13:31:52


Horton Tue 11-Aug-09 14:01:32

I'm watching this with interest from the other end of the weight scale, notyummy! I have a nearly three year old DD who is positively skinny and seems to me not to be eating enough to keep a bird alive. Her portion sizes are tiny (and I assume not normal for her age).

Where is the children's BMI calculator? I would be interested to know where my daughter falls on their scale.

notyummy Tue 11-Aug-09 14:10:04

BMI calculator is at:

Surely there must be some experts/dieticians out there on MN?? I have googled, but advice seems quite sparse!

sweetheart Tue 11-Aug-09 14:12:46

I once heard something about a fist but it's vauge in my memory. Something about the childs stomach being the size of a fist so not to put more than a fist size portion of food. I could possibly be 100% wrong though and my ds who is nearly 4 certainly has portions bigger than that - although he usually doesn't eat it but thats another story!

chimchar Tue 11-Aug-09 14:16:06

i'm sure that children that young don't overeat for the sake of it do they? i mean, that if she's eating her meal and not snacking inbetween then isn't that ok? maybe you could try rearranging her portion to include less carbs and more veg?

tbh, i'd be wary about trying to let a child that young cut down...have you spoken to your hv? has she been recognised as officially overweight or is it just your concern at the mo?

maybe she's just a big girl, and will soon start to grow upwards and be more in proportion.

my ds was 3 on sunday...he has one of those kind of kiddie melamine plates or a pasta bowl size dish of a main mean proportioned in the same way that our meals are..i guess 1/3 carb, 1/3 protein and 1/3 frut/veg/beans/salad etc..

to horton, my ds was very teeny when he was younger, and was underweight. i was advised to give him minadex, which really stimulated his appitite. its a tonic for children which contains iron. maybe that would help...he's still skinny now, but eats well...


Horton Tue 11-Aug-09 14:21:41

My child is supposedly a healthy weight, according to that calculator (7th centile). I'm quite surprised they're classing that as a healthy weight, tbh! But pleased, too. Thank you, notyummy.

I meant to say before, your child's diet sounds pretty healthy to me. However, half an adult portion of pasta does sound like quite a lot compared to what my daughter eats. We are lucky if my daughter eats as much as a quarter of an adult portion of pasta. Does she snack a lot?

saythatagain Tue 11-Aug-09 14:22:16

I would second sweetheart's theory.

Horton Tue 11-Aug-09 14:22:56

I have never heard of Minadex before. Thanks very much, chimchar. I will investigate.

FAQtothefuture Tue 11-Aug-09 14:25:13

I have looked at the NHS BMI calculator and disregarded it. As my DS2 is a huge eater, but tall and reasonably stocky. That calculator tells me he's verging on being underweight. I have to watch what he eats/his size as he has an enormous appetite (eats more than me and he's not yet 6!). I am under no illusions that if he were on the 50% (so "average" then he would be visibly overweight.

noramum Tue 11-Aug-09 14:43:11

As a rule one portion of whatever is what fits in your child's hand. So half of your portion may be a little bit too much.

I think there was once a test where children (primary school age) where given a proper sized lunch. When they finished they were asked if they wanted more. All said they were full.

The next day they were given a larger meal (I think 25% more). Over 75% of the children ate everything. Asked if they wanted more, they said they were full.

So, a child may not automatically be able to say it is full and may eat more if there is still food on the plate.

You could try giving her less and if she asks give her a second helping. Also, a smaller plate may sometimes do the trick.

notyummy Tue 11-Aug-09 14:58:46

Thanks all - I think we need to cut down on the carbs a bit as she may be getting too much. She does have snacks, but only a dry cracker (!! - nurseries regime!) or a little fruit.

I don't want to get overly concerned, because I think she is healthy - just want to lay down the right foundations. I think she probably wouldn't notice if I gave her a bit less cereal/bread/pasta/rice.

Horton Tue 11-Aug-09 15:58:21

That's really interesting FAQ, because DD is plainly skinny. I can see her ribs. And yet the calculator says she isn't underweight.

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