Knowing the right portion size for your toddler just got easier!

Evidence-based Portion Sizes for children aged 1-4 years available to support healthy growth and development


With growing evidence of the impact of increasing portion sizes on the amounts of food that  adults and children consume(1), simple  and practical advice on portion sizes could be key in curbing the obesity crisis. The Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF) has revamped its online resource to create a user-friendly, visual guide on how much food to offer young children. The guide is now accessible on all devices including mobile, tablet, and desktop computer.

The UK is facing a health crisis related to poor diet. Almost one in ten children starting school are obese, amounting to over 60,000 children in 2013-2014.(2)

One predictor of how much young children eat is how much is put on their plates (3, 4, 5). We also know that in the UK, adult portion sizes have increased dramatically within the last twenty years.(6) A toddler’s energy needs are significantly lower than that of an adult so they require smaller meals. There is often anxiety among parents about what and how much to feed their child.(7) Practical advice that can help parents and carers offer young children appropriate amounts may help in our fight against childhood obesity.

Judy More, Paediatric Dietitian and Member of the ITF said: “How much toddlers eat varies widely from day to day and meal to meal, so parents and carers shouldn’t worry if some days their toddler eats less than on other days. Our advice provides portion size ranges rather than specific amounts, to address the fluctuating appetites of growing children and helps to achieve the correct nutritional balance and calories needed for healthy growth and development. These ranges are easy to use and include the foods parents and carers usually offer toddlers. The portion sizes guide offers a combination of foods across the five food groups with advice on healthy limits for high-fat or high-sugar foods.”

The new online portion size guide can be found here: http://www.infantandtoddlerforum.org/portion-sizes-table-2015

(1) Portion, package or tableware size for changing selection and consumption of food, alcohol and tobacco, Holland, September 2015

(2)  Poor Beginnings, NCB, September 2015

(3) Birch LL, Johnson SL, Andresen G, Peters J, Schultze MC. The variability of young children’s energy intake. New England Journal of Medicine, 1991, 324,232‐5.

(4) Faith MS, Kelley S, Birch LL, Francis L, Sherry B. Parent‐Child feeding strategies and their relationship to child eating and weight status. Obesity Research, 2004, 12, 11, 1711‐1722.

(5) Galloway AT, Fiorito LM, Francis LA, Birch LL. Finish your soup; counterproductive effects of pressuring children to eat on intake. Appetite, 2006, 46, 318‐323.

(6) Benson, C. (2009) ’Increasing portion size in Britain.’ Society, biology and human affairs., 74 (2). pp. 4‐20.

(7) Amy Slater, Jane Bowen, Nadia Corsini*, Claire Gardner, Rebecca Golley and Manny Noakes;     Understanding parent concerns about children’s diet, activity and weight status: an important step towards effective obesity prevention interventions (2009)

 

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Further Reading

  • Atul Singhal, Professor of Paediatric Nutrition and Chair of the Infant & Toddler Forum   At the Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF), we are committed to giving every child the healthiest start in life. As an expert-led, not-for-profit organisation we have dedicated our work to early life nutrition, from pregnancy to pre-school, because we know that healthy eating habits established in childhood are more likely to last a lifetime.
  • Judy More, Paediatric Dietitian and Registered Nutritionist   As Christmas approaches it can be difficult to plan activities for toddlers! Between decorating, shopping and cooking it may be a challenge to find time to include fun active play with your little one. The Infant & Toddler Forum is here to help with our top tips for maintaining healthy, fun activities for your toddlers during the festive season!
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   Christmas is a joyful time of year, however as a parent it can also be busy and sometimes stressful. Between planning festive gatherings, shopping for the perfect gifts, and decorating your home, thinking about the perfectly portioned festive meal for your toddler can be an added challenge. The Infant & Toddler Forum is here to help you create an easy and delicious Christmas plate that will save you time but more importantly, that your toddler will enjoy!