Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Infant & Toddler Nutrition Guidelines

A common question seems to be, how much should my child be eating? Unfortunately, it seems to be a very difficult question to answer! I want to preface this post by stating that I am not a nutrition expert or pediatrician, just a teacher and mother who has done some research and witnessed the eating habits of countless children. If you have any specific questions about your child’s nutrition or growth, please consult your pediatrician!

That being said, we see one of two different doctors at our practice for Little C’s regular checkups. One gave us a list of exactly which foods and how much to feed her when first introducing solid foods. The other doctor simply pointed out specific foods to avoid until she was a little older without any guidelines as to what or how much to feed her.

Prior to 6 months of age, babies don’t need solid food so if you start solids early, give your child as much as you both want – as long as you start slow and introduce foods one at a time (see Switching to solid foods.) It seems like how much you feed your child between 6 and 8 months of age also does not much matter. They’ll still be getting most of the nutrition they need from breastmilk or formula. We started solids with Little C when she was 5.5 months old and I honestly think we only gave her bits of rice cereal at breakfast for the first few weeks. Then we slowly introduced fruits and other grains as she became better and more interested in eating solids.

After 8 months, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ website for children has the following guidelines available:

The sample menus give you an idea of how much your child could eat in a day, but I think every child develops differently and you should judge how much to feed your child based on how much they want. There’s no need to stress yourself that your child is not eating enough or eating too much. The stress will pass onto your child and meal time will not be enjoyable for anyone! As long as you provide healthy, balanced choices, let your child eat as much as they want. Just don’t supplement with junk food snacks if your child doesn’t eat much at mealtimes – I’ll post advice for picky eaters soon. Remember though, if your child is seriously under or overweight, talk to your doctor!


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