A common comment I often hear from parents is “my little one needs to eat more, she’s so small!” For some reason, there is this belief that small babies/toddlers need to eat more so they can somehow exponentially grow to what her parents presume is “healthy” or “normal.” There often seems to be a preoccupation with food and comparing children’s sizes. On the other side of the spectrum, children who are on the large end of the scale are often told not to eat much or they will be “fat.”
There is a group of small kids who can eat a lot and some eat very little and there will be big kids that eat a lot and some that eat very little. The amount of food a child eats should never be assumed. Children’s intakes vary – day to day, meal to meal, and parents who have expectations for intakes at any given meal, may often find themselves frustrated with their child’s intake.
I was recently reminded of parental expectations the other day as my little one was happily eating next to one of his best friend’s, who happens to be on the petite side. Many would expect the larger child to eat more, but on this day, it was the smaller child that ate more than the bigger.
For those who have expectations of the amount a child should eat, think for a minute of how you eat. Do you eat about the same amount every meal or does your appetite change with the meal or maybe with the food you are eating? Even as adults, our intake often is not consistent every meal. Children’s should be expected to fluctuate even more as their body is growing and developing which requires more energy at times.
If you are struggling with mealtimes, take a moment to think about your expectations you have of your child. These thoughts often cause the actions, reactions, and feelings that drive some of the struggles. Mealtimes can be happy and stress-free family times. If you are interested in how to make this happen, please contact Simply Nutrition today.