She will follow me around the house chanting, ‘Summat to eat, Mummy,’ ‘Summat in the cupboard, Mummy’.
This can start a mere half hour after she’s had a gigantic bowl of porridge.
I have no idea where she puts it either. She is an absolute string bean.
I started to wonder whether she had worms, or whether we had allowed her to get into a bad habit of snacking.
Other friends are experiencing the same problem with their kids though, so I’m thinking/hoping/praying it’s just a growth spurt and she needs the extra energy to burn. Her activity levels have soared in the past few months. She’s constantly jumping around doing her ‘ballet’ or running around pretending to be a dinosaur. Maybe she just needs the extra food to keep up with her Energizer bunny level of activity.
I would prefer to have a ravenous toddler rather than one who refuses to eat, but to be honest, I just don’t know how much food my toddler should be eating. How much is too much or too little?
Lucky for me, I managed to overhear a seminar on healthy eating habits for toddlers while I was working at the Brisbane Pregnancy Babies & Children’s Expo last weekend. I was working on the stand right next to the Education Centre and when I heard someone talking about toddlers and food my ears pricked up.
Dietician and Adult and Infant Nutritionist Kate Di Prima was running the seminar and had me almost falling over craning my neck to hear what she was saying.
In her seminar, Kate discussed the importance of finding the right balance between food intake and physical activity to support the growth and development of our toddlers. She went on to say food habits learned in childhood can last a lifetime, so we need to ensure these habits are good ones. We need to get it right, and right now.
Kate said the typical age of food fussiness is between the ages of 18 months to three years. I found myself asking myself, does that include food obsession too?
When Kate said we should aim for our toddlers to eat around 15 foods a day, I was shocked. When I came home and had a think about what Curly-locks ate in any given day though, I realised it wasn’t that hard to achieve.
Curly-locks’ average daily intake:
- Small Milo
- Vegemite or ham sandwich
- One serve of meat and three veg
I’m not sure if you can count Milo or Nutella as food, but we’re fairly close to 15 foods a day. Here I was thinking she was eating too much and maybe she’s doing okay after all.
I did learn though, that a toddler’s tummy is the size of their fist, so I will definitely be keeping an eye on portion sizes from now on.
Kate also provided some great tips on setting up good eating habits for our children:
- Maintain regular meal times
- Minimise or avoid non nutritious foods
- Don’t bribe with food especially dessert
- Encourage to try foods – don’t distract
- Be a healthy role model
- Offer realistic portion sizes
- Increase variety
- Encourage healthy snacking
Armoured with this new information, I feel more confident in instilling healthy eating habits in my children. Next time Curly-locks asks for ‘summat in the cupboard’, I will ensure I reach for something nutritional.
Do you have a fussy toddler or a hungry one like me?
Follow Kate on Twitter @katediprimadiet
For everyone in Perth, Kate will be speaking at the Perth Pregnancy Babies & Children’s Expo coming up in August.