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

  • Katie Fox, Primary School Teacher   Due to coronavirus, playgroups and nurseries are shut and those children due to start school in a few months will be out of routine and away from friends. It is understandable that many parents are worried about getting their children ready for September. Children learn and progress at different rates so there are no set criteria on what they need to be able to know or do when they first start nursery, but if they have had some experience learning at home it could help to make it a smoother transition. Turn taking games, imaginative play, reading, and developing fine and gross motor skills can promote independence, build confidence and help develop simple skills.
  • Dr Gill Harris, Consultant Paediatric Clinical Psychologist Dr Maddy Harris, Clinical Psychologist   In times of crisis – such as the one we are currently living in – parents may find that the normal stresses of everyday life are magnified and additional worries and concerns emerge. Knowing how to cope may prove difficult, but an approach which has widely been discussed in the media and on social media is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).The premise of ACT is that fears and anxieties are seen as real and cannot be ‘challenged’ away, unlike with cognitive behavioural therapy. By concentrating on our actions we are able to work past our fears. This method may help those struggling with this new chaotic routine we find ourselves in. The Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help with our top tips on how to apply this intervention.
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   As social distancing policies are put in place, and schools and nurseries shut their doors indefinitely, keeping your toddlers entertained and active for hours on end during COVID-19 may seem daunting and at times virtually impossible! Parents and carers have been thrown into a cozy and chaotic ‘new normal’ and may wonder how they can meet the recommended three hours a day of physical activity for under-fives who are walking. But do not panic, the Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help make sure you have plenty of ideas to keep your toddler happy and entertained whilst encouraging physical activity.