Gables Montessori Blog

How much food is good for your child?

Babies and young children can be allowed to eat the right amount as long as you only give them access to healthy foods. Babies cry to let us know they are hungry and when they are full they stop eating. Things get complicated at 2 or 3 years when children begin to prefer the taste of certain foods and reject others, in addition to having much variability in how hungry they feel. You may worry that your child eats very little, children tend to eat the same amount of calories every one or two days, but the pattern of calorie consumption may vary from day to day. One day a child could eat a lot at breakfast, a lot at lunch and almost nothing at dinner. The next day, the same child could eat very little at breakfast, but he could eat a lot at lunch and dinner. Do not expect your child to eat the same amount of food at each meal and each snack every day.

What happens if there are bad eating habits? This can lead to low weight or overweight. Poorly fed children have a weaker immune system, which increases their chances of disease. A child’s poor eating habits can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type  2 diabetes or high cholesterol later in life.

Help and support your child’s healthy eating habits as follows:

• Eat together as a family as often as possible. Make family meals a pleasant and positive moment. Avoid making comments about the amount or type of food your child eats. The pressure to eat actually reduces children’s acceptance of new or different foods.

• Choose healthy foods for your family’s meals. Children notice the selections you make and follow their example.

• Make meal times predictable. Eat at approximately the same time every day and always at the table, even for refreshments.

• Have meals often enough (for example, every 3 hours for young children) so your child does not feel very hungry.

• Outside of talking and enjoying time together, do not do anything else during meals: no television or other distractions.

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