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You're Probably Overfeeding Your Toddler

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Written by Michele Zipp on CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

What my son eats or doesn't eat is a constant worry in my house. He's a very picky eater. A drinker, yes indeed. Hopefully that doesn't translate to when he's older and a big drinker means something not as adorable as a kid who loves his milky. And yes, I know drinking too much milk isn't a good idea either.

My daughter, his twin sister, can eat and eat and eat and sometimes she eats everything on her plate then starts working on what her brother hasn't eaten. Unless it's fish. She doesn't like fish, and my son will eat all of his fish and all of hers. But he can't eat fish every day. Even though I tried it once for a week and, by the end, realized he didn't like it so much anymore.

It seems though that maybe, just maybe, we are overfeeding our kids. Big surprise, right. We are a nation of super-sizing. Maybe our warped minds are just trying to get too much food down our kids' throats and we need to do some portion control. Yes, that's exactly it.

Our toddlers and preschoolers still have tiny little bellies. Their stomach is about the same size as their clenched fist. Tiny! So let's take a look at these guidelines given to us by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ... that I paraphrased.

-- They say to start with a small serving size, which means not adult size portions, but tiny little kid fist portions. Start small and let the child ask for more if still hungry. If you have a picky eater, the words "more please" might make you as happy as "I love you."

-- For each food item served, they suggest giving a tablespoon per year of age of each food. So if your kid is 3, give him 3 tablespoons of fish, 3 tablespoons of broccoli, and 3 tablespoons of cheese. (I can't believe this is enough, but it's what they are saying! Plus, they say start small and then give more as wanted so that seems about right. This IS about healthy eating habits.)

-- If your kid says she's full or starts picking apart the broccoli and throwing it at you, it's time to remove the food. All done here! We need to respect that even if she ate two bites.

-- The "clean plate club" is for losers. Well, if your kid just gets in that "club" because she likes to eat, then great. If not, then no worries and no forcing.

I sure feel better about my picky eater now. He's gaining weight appropriately, going potty and all that, and is a happy kid, so I should have trusted my instincts. But when you grow up with an Italian family, eating a lot is the norm. And worrying about your kid eating when you're a parent comes with the honor.

Now that you've read this, do you think you were overfeeding your kids? Does this make you feel better about a picky eater?

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