Toddlers are busy little people, and sometimes they can seem to be living on air - but how much does your toddler really need to eat?
Toddlers and children are very good at regulating the amount of food they eat. When left to their own devices, these clever clogs will usually eat all they need for healthy growth and development, even if it doesn't seem like very much to you!
The average toddler needs to eat an impressive 95 kcal per kg of body weight (as opposed to us adults, who need only 30-35 kcal per kg). The catch is that their stomachs are only a third the size of an adult's. This means it's important to offer them a high-energy diet with more good-quality calories per spoonful - every bite really does count!
Sometimes they’ll eat more, sometimes less
It’s worth remembering that, like us, toddlers often have days where they don't eat much and other days when they’ll eat more than usual. It usually balances out in the end. As long as they appear to be happy and generally well and your doctor or health visitor is pleased with their progress and weight, your toddler is probably eating the right amount of food for him or her.
If you're at all concerned about your toddler's weight, it’s best to speak to your doctor or health visitor before making any dietary changes. A healthcare professional will be able to check your child's weight and height and plot this against a standard growth chart. (It's a good idea to bring your toddler’s health record to the appointment, too, so your doctor can check these measurements against your child's previous growth.)
If your child is smaller or thinner than most, your doctor will be able to help you make some small changes to increase energy intake by adding in calorie-rich healthy foods.
If your toddler is on the heavy side, you might want to look at his or her activity level and sugar intake; having too many sweet treats or drinking lots of sugary drinks might be the culprit. Keeping track of everything your child eats and drinks for a week or two can also help identify any problem areas.