Concerned your toddler won't eat 3 full meals?
Don't panic - most toddlers will only eat between 1 to 2 "meals" per day. Yes, it is true and it's perfectly fine.
If you think that your toddler should be eating a full meal at each mealtime, take heart - your toddler won't eat 3 "full" meals and further, does not need to eat 3 "full" meals per day! What your toddler does need is at least 1000 calories per day, according to the AAP.
My Toddler does not eat at Dinner!
You will notice as the day progresses that your toddler becomes less and less hungry. Rest assured, it is common for toddlers to eat great at breakfast, eat "ok" at lunch and come dinner time, your toddler may eat either miniscule bites or leave behind a 99% full plate.
The AAP ( American Academy of Pediatrics ) recommends that children age 1 to 3 years get about 40 calories per inch of height a day.
Translation: Your 32-inch-tall toddler ideally should eat about 1,300 calories a day for normal growth and weight gain. These calories should come from the sources listed below as shown in the apple.
So what does this mean for My Toddler?
You should prepare balanced meals and healthy snacks for your toddler. Well balanced
offerings, especially during snack time, will help you to overcome the inevitable lack of food intake during a meal.
For example, if your toddler does not drink all of his milk at breakfast, give him cheese for a snack. If your toddler refuses to eat his meat at lunch, give him tofu bites dusted with Cheerio or Granola crumbs for a snack.
In these examples, while you may lament at the lack of calcium and protein intake during breakfast and lunch, you have taken the opportunity to "make up for it" during snack time!
Toss out the idea that your Toddler will suddenly be eating "like the family" does! Remember, your Toddler is still in a stage of slow-then-rapid-then-slow growth and is going through many changes!
How Much Should I Try to Have my Toddler Eat per Day?
When planning and serving meals to your toddler, try to have him/or her consume the following on a daily basis:
What is Considered a Serving Size for a Toddler?
We find that feeding your Toddler becomes less complicated and frustrating when parents realize what a serving size for a Toddler really is. A good rule for serving sizes for toddlers is the following::
1 tablespoon per year of age or 1/4 of an adult serving per year of age
At the next meal, use these measurements exactly and see for yourself how little food a Toddler should actually be eating. We bet you will be quite surprised!
Resources & Learning More:
USDA's Searchable Nutrient Database - Enter in any food and find it's nutrient content
Feeding Infants and Toddlers by William Sears, MD
Nutritional guidelines for toddlers by Sue Gilbert, Consulting Nutritionist - Parent's Place
RDA for toddlers? by Sue Gilbert, Consulting Nutritionist - Parent's Place
Nutrient Information from the the American Society for Nutritional Sciences