meal portion sizes for a 2yr old

Angela - posted on 05/01/2010 ( 32 moms have responded )

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what is an appropriate portion for a 2yr old. i just don't know. not as much as i would have, obviously but other than saying 'give them a child size portion' no where seems to be able to tell me what a childs size portion is. i don't dish up as much as my partner does when we doing meals and we havin disagreements about how much is enough. how much do you feed your child each meal? any advice or information gratefully recieved.

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Melissa - posted on 05/01/2010

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Toddlers are supposed to have 1 tbsp. for each year of their age. For each item you are serving. So you son should have 2 tbsp. of each thing that you make for you meal. When he turns three then he should have 3 tbsp. of each thing. That doesn't mean he will eat it all but that is the correct serving size. Hope this helps.

Ginger - posted on 07/01/2011

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An excellent pediatrician gave me this advice regarding children and how much to eat: Every single child has their own eating style and eating amounts. NO child will starve themselves on purpose. An excellent 'how much do I feed?' marker is this: Hold your childs hand. Make it into a fist. That is the size of their stomach. That's all it can hold at a time. More will make them gorge which can cause upset tummies and possible eating problems later- Is why littlest kids eat on the go- just a smidge and are suddenly full and then come back a little later for more.
As long as my kids ate at least that much and they continued to grow and thrive I stopped worrying. I also purchased divided plates. A spoonful in each section for vegies/ sides and 2 in the largest section for the main course. If they eat a majority of it I was a happy mom. I never force my kids to eat everything on their plate...but at least some of it. And if it is something they suddenly dont like? They must take a spoonful and we call that a 'courtesy' portion. I adamantly went with the FIST sized portions (as a whole) Not a fist size for each dish served! For the first 4 - 5 years of age. So far no malnourished kids in my family and no eating disorders either. With the courtesy portions too they learn to at least try new things before making a decision to like it or not.... ☺

Gaye - posted on 05/06/2010

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My husband & I have an 18 year old son, a 4 year old daughter & another daughter who is 19 months old. Our daughters are tiny eaters (they never eat bulk amounts of food) but they graze throughout the day. They will eat a weatbix for breaky, then a handful of cheese about 40 min later, then a piece of fruit an hour later, then a few crackers an hour after that then sultana’s etc, they will also eat a sandwich cut in 4's (but not in one sitting) they will eat the sandwich throughout the day. When I go anywhere in the car I pack heaps of healthy food as I know they eat best when they are travelling in the car. They hardly ever eat lunch (at lunch time) due to the grazing they do throughout the day. If I didn’t let them graze & then gave them lunch their tinny appetites would not fit in a sandwich all in one go. That is why I found it best to let them eat small healthy snacks throughout the day. When tea time comes I dish up their meals, e.g. chicken drumstick, large tablespoon of mash potato & mixed vegies but we never make them finish their plates if they don’t want to. (and they rarely ever finish them)...When they are done, they are done. If they refuse to eat anything we tell them they have to eat 5 teaspoons of their food, & most the time they do but if I can see they just can’t fit it in I never force them to eat it. My son works as an AFL trainee & works with a personal trainer working with primary school children & my son has learnt so much about children’s eating habits & health & fitness & I am proud to say that it seems I have been doing the right thing. Kids eat when they are hungry & they listen to their body when their body tells them that they are full. We as parents condition our kids to eat the amount we think is appropriate & usually on a 3 meal a day basis with snacks throw in along the way. We tell them they are not allowed to leave the table until they are finished, this in turn only stretches their little tummy’s to be able to hold more food so they can consume what we expect them to eat. I truly believe that kids eating habits start off on the right track but we change their habits to the way we think is necessary not what is appropriate. So I have chosen to do it different & observe what my kids eat during the day & listen to them when they say they just can’t eat anymore. I have healthy food in my house & my kids graze on healthy food on & off all day, they don’t eat lunch at lunch time but would have eaten the equivalent of lunch & snacks throughout the day. When tea time comes I am a true believer that all family member eat tea together so the 5 of us sit down to a meal if we can’t finish our meal that is ok it is glad wrapped & if the girls come to me hungry after tea, they usually get to snack off their tea plate or have fruit. Don’t get me wrong they still get treats like lollies & ice cream a couple of times a week, in fact we have lolly night every Friday night. But I am never hard on them at meal times as I know they are eating enough good food when their bodies tell them they need it opposed to when I think they should have it. I came from a home that dished up a meal & you were not allowed to leave the table until everything was gone. I couldn’t tell you how many times I gagged or vomited & I always had a freezer bag hidden in my pocket to hide the food that I knew I couldn’t eat & if it stayed on my plate I would be sitting there miserable for hours. I hated meal time when I was growing up. I swore I would never do that to my kids & I never have. My three kids are trim healthy kids, who all know when they are full.

Barbara - posted on 05/05/2010

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The "rule of thumb" I learned was a tablespoon for each year. So since your child is two, try giving a portion about two tablespoons. If he/she desires more to eat, then you can give more. I hope this helps.

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Babitha - posted on 11/25/2012

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hi...my baby girl is 2yr and 3 mnths..it's very difficult to make her eat rice..she doesn't like ric along with any curries etc.i would like to knw how much should a baby of 2 n a half yr eat and wht all should their diet contain..someone pls elaborate n kindly tell.

Melissa - posted on 07/03/2011

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@ Kate Paniagua- If you are serving a well balanced meal with meat, veggies, fruits, dairy and grains then they would have plenty of food. If you are making a caserole with many food groups in it then maybe you should give them how ever many tbs. for there age for each food group is in the caserole. Obviously you wouldn't give a child 1 tbs. if you only make one thing to eat. If you have any other questions it can all be looked up food portion guide lines on the internet.

Angela - posted on 05/08/2010

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thank you everyone. that helped loads. i feel much better about what i'm doin now. ta.

Ann - posted on 05/06/2010

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If your in the uk you can get plates with sections in them, they arent adult size plates and help me by guiding the portions as you know you dont fill the whole portion of the tray.i have them in my house.

Jennifer - posted on 05/06/2010

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A child's stomach is the size of their hand balled up as a fist. Here is an example of something that may help. Chicken nuggets...start with two and a fruit cut up, ex. a banana. Offer water, milk or a juice when they are done or when they ask for it. From what I've read and heard from other mom's is small portions and that toddlers snack more than eat well at meals so make the snacks healthy and small portions of what you may feed at meals. If you are throwing food away at meals that is a clear sign you are offering to much.

Natalie - posted on 05/06/2010

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i have a 2 year old and a newborn and i let them both eat till they are full... i put a small amount of different things on a plate and he eats what he wants... when he stops or slows we ask him if he is all done and he will tell us... we don't force him to eat more and we dont skimp either... he is pretty good about regulating himself as far as normal food goes now with sweets its another story if he wants a cookie he can have one or 2 depending on size or we also get the small bags of mini oreos but those are special treats.... anyway like i said i let him eat however much will make him full cause we give a lot of veggies and fruits and well if he wants to eat a bunch of green beans i see no harm in it... i guess it also depends on what you are feeding him... but let him get full if he wants more just dole it out in small spoonfuls... hope that helped a little... sorry i rambled LOL

Patricia - posted on 05/05/2010

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I say... give him/her as much as they want. Some days they will be more hungry than others. My hubby and I are raising 4 kids (3 yrs - 15 yrs) and we just put some food on the plate. If they want more, they get more. If they don't eat it all, they don't eat it all. All of our kids are healthy, not overweight, happy, and not hungry.

Mary - posted on 05/04/2010

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I have always been told that a toddler should eat 1000 calorie a day. Thing is, most of these calories, at this age, come from snacks. What I do is offer 5-6 very small meals, such as a banana and juice or Bella's favorite, cereal and milk. Having these smaller meals not only helps prevent childhood obeseity, but keeps the child full and happy.

Malinda - posted on 05/04/2010

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my 22mth old daughter gets given a portion about the third of mine, i guess it depends with what it is and how much they like it. that way if its something she really likes or if she is still hungry she can just ask for more.

Alegre - posted on 05/04/2010

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Start small. Children can get overwhelmed at meal times especially if they are faced with a plate that has heaping portions on it even if they "don't have to eat it all". More of the vegetables and fruits on the plate, meats should be about the size of their palm (not yours) and a carb (1/3 cup of rice or pasta, preferrably brown or whole wheat). I tell my children that they have to at least eat all of their vegetable and then if they finish their dinner and are still hungry they can have more.

April - posted on 05/04/2010

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My doctor said a little bigger than the child fist because that is how big their stomach is.

Lexann - posted on 05/04/2010

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My pediatrician said 1 Tblsp per food group per year of age. So, 2 year olds get 2 tablespoons of diced chicken, 2 Tblsp green beans, 2 tablespoons diced cantelope, etc... Eating was a big deal at our home because my boys were always at the low end of the weight range, even though they were very good eaters. So, I had to pad their diets with extra carbs and proteins (healthy, of course). I found that the trick is, don't overload their plate. Give them a little of one or two kinds of food at a time. If they eat all that, then they can have more. They eat more that way, and are less finicky. Also, keep snacks healthy, and limit them. I had to really cut down on my youngest son's milk intake, too. If he had his way, he would consume nothing else! He would drink milk all day, and then not be hungry at meal time. So, now that he is three, he gets 6 oz with breakfast and another 6 oz during the day. He can choose to have it for afternoon snack or with dinner, but not both. That really helped us.

Lyndsay - posted on 05/04/2010

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My son has his own set of Batman dishes, which are smaller than ours. I fill up his child-sized plate the same way I would our larger, adult plates. Sometimes he eats it all, sometimes he doesn't.

Mary - posted on 05/04/2010

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My son eats as much as he wants (he is very skinny but that is due to him being very active). if he wants more I give him more. I do not dish up too much for him otherwise he wastes it. I would rather give him too little than too much (as food is getting very expensive). Because he eats so well at school I am not worried about him eating so little at home.

Payal - posted on 05/03/2010

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i don't remember where, but i read somewhere on the internet that a toddler can eat as much as 1/4 of what we adults eat at every meal. don't know how that works but just for the info. am putting it up here for you to see.

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Melissa, sorry, but that doesn't make sense. What if you're only serving two things? Then they should have two tablespoons at meal time? If I"m missing something, please explain.

With my daughter, I offer her healthy foods and she eats how much she likes. She has QUITE the appetite!!! But she's 25th percentile weight so I'm not worried in the slightest. If she asks for more of something that she should only have a small amount of, I just tell her that she can have more fruit or something else healthy. Just my two cents...

Kathy - posted on 05/03/2010

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i have a toddler size bowl and i just fill it to the top. i let my daughter decide how much is enough for her (for the most part; as long as half the food has been eaten, that's good enough for me).

Elizabeth - posted on 05/03/2010

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I think the rule of thumb is that a meal portion size is the size of your fist. A 2 year old's single portion size would be the size of their fist - HOWEVER, children tend to eat what they need, and often even we adults can eat multiple portion sizes. The problem arises when we do it out of habit rather than hunger, and continuously feeding someone larger portions than they need may train them to believe a portion size is larger than it really is.

At one and a half years old, I give my daughter a portion size, ask if she's still hungry, and keep doling portion by portion until she either loses interest (and begin to play with her food) or indicates she aren't hungry by saying so/shaking her head. I've found she usually eats 5ish times a day and 1-3 portion sizes at any given time. Often, she eats more during lunch and dinner because we have larger portions ourselves, I think.

Hope it helps, and good luck!

Brittany - posted on 05/03/2010

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my kids play REALLY REALLY hard and I like to make sure they eat 3 meals and 2 snacks each day to give them energy. I like each thing to be NO BIGGER than his fist (ie rice, veggies, potatos) and the whole thing no more than three fist groups (his fist tho so depending on the child's size). I think that they can eat twice that in one sitting if they wanted to... but... the thing I am MOST concerned with is WHAT they are eating. So limited suga,r limited high fructose corn syrup, no soda's or sports drinks if I can help it and alot of key bulk items like breads and proteins. I grew up overweight so these things have formed kinda a complex in my mind about not letting my children have weight problems so I often have to be careful not to go to far the OTHER way. Watch for key signs like are they still eating or have they gone into play mode with there food? If it's the latter than they are not hungry and are done.

Shelby - posted on 05/02/2010

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i get kids plates and fill them up (they're about 6-8" across, with different compartments). if my daughter doesn't eat it all, then fine. (but no snacks, because she tends to want nothing but snacks sometimes). the only thing i encourage her to eat all of is the veggies. and i encourage her to at least try a bite of everything.

Julie - posted on 05/02/2010

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Honestly, obesety shouldn't be on the table, IF you offer your child healthy foods. Fresh fruits and veggies. Lean meats. Whole grains. Both of my boys stay on this diet, and can eat more then I thought possible! On hard nights, they do get Top Ramon with peas, corn, and shredded beef, and I swear, my 1yr and 2.5yr together can easily eat 2 whole packages of top ramon. They eaisly wipe out a costco size box of Nature Valley granola bars in a month. They will eat 2 bags of apples in a week. They will eat an entire box of Whole Wheat Ritz crackers in 3 days. They will actually go through 3 roman heads of letuce in 3 days. This happens when they have growth sperts, which because I have 2, it's pretty much all the time. But when they arn't doing growth sperts, they barely eat anything. My 2.5yr is over 3ft tall, and in the 90% for his height, and head size. He's always been in the 45%-50% for his weight. He's been eating like this since he was 10m old. He's such an active boy, and uses all that he eat (I let him eat until he's done), that after he was weaned from formula, he didn't can more then a pound for 6m. My 1yr, who eats like his Big Bro and with him too, I let him eat until he's done, he's in the 95% for hieght, and only 20% for weight.

Each child is different. Keep a healthy wholesome diet, and activity high, I believe that it's okay to let them eat until they arn't hungry anymore.

Oh, and as far as wanting one thing over another, my opinion is that if it's not a "naughty" food, then it must be a craving. Toddlers are still listening to thier body's. If they only want salty food, then they are craving salt. If they want lots of meat, then they are craving protien, if they want breads, it's because they want carbs. (a toddler having carbs ISN"T bad.) I personally try to only give the boys whole grains. Somtimes they get regular bread, and it's okay.

Lisa - posted on 05/02/2010

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Yeah my son is picky also. He also has his days when he eats little to nothing, and days when he eats more than i do. I just try to present him with a balance diet and let him decided what he'll eat. In addition I make sure he stays active and get plenty of playtime which is key to preventing obesity in my opionion.

Jane - posted on 05/01/2010

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My 2 1/2 year old is a fussy eater, so on days when he has got a good appetite I tend to let him eat as much as he likes, as long as it is a balanced diet throught out the day. We have had a hectic week this week, out and about with a lot of walking for him so when he woke up yesterday morning wanting his cereal straight away I knew we were in for a "hungry" day. Stupidly, I let him have three bowls of cereal, he then spent the afternoon with a poorly stomach! I felt really bad.

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I put a fair bit on my kids plates and if they eat it they eat it and if they dont then they dont. I dont thin there is really any rule to this as my daughter eats more then my son and has always done so. If they are hungry they get food and its usually fruit or something healthy!

Ashley - posted on 05/01/2010

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We always give my son half a chicken breast size of meat. A fist size of carbs, and a fist and a half of veggies. If he asks for more of something than he gets it. though I do try to keep his carbs down as much as I can. My sister gives her kids alot less. and some parets give more. you know what your son can eat. Just try to offer more veggies/fruit than the rest!

Stevie - posted on 05/01/2010

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that would be because there is no child sized portions every child is different esp in the way they eat they can actually eat up to just as much if not more than we do i know my son does and he is 17 months old but i dont really eat much food at all but what i do is i keep giving him food until he doesnt want it anymore or startes to mess around really at dinner my son does eat more than me sometimes it depends on his attitude or something but like for dinner last night i gave him a spoon full maybe a little more of the main part a few spoonfulls of mixed veggis and then my husband gave him a new potato he would have aate more if givin but yeah and i think he had two helpings of a spoonfull of the main part and i think another couple of vegis i just feed him until he is full thats how you eat isnt it

Steph - posted on 05/01/2010

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i put quite a lot on my sons plate and most of the time he eats it all. but once i saw a programme called too fat to toddle and it was about obese children. They showed a plate of food that was meant to be an appropriate size for a toddler but it was 1/2 the amount my son has! My son is not overweight and he is happy with what he eats. so in my opinion jus give your child however much they would usually have as long as it is a balanced meal and they will eat what they want.

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