How Much Should My Child Be Eating? Essential Guidelines for Parents

how much should my child be eating

How Much Should My Child Be Eating? Essential Guidelines for Parents

how much should my child be eating

How much should my child be eating: There isn’t an easy answer to this I’m afraid. 

Some children eat more than others.

Children will eat more or less at different stages of growth and development – for example your child might have eaten more as a one year old than a two year old

The best way to approach this question is by using Ellyn Satter’s ‘division of responsibility’ model. 

Which goes like this:

As a parent, you decide what food is on offer, where it is served and when it is served.

The child decides if they are going to eat and how much.

This seems un-nervingly simplistic, but if you apply it to the question, it is really helpful.

As a parent, you might decide that

  • Breakfast is a fried egg on sourdough with avocado and its served at 7am.
  • Morning eat is some blueberries and yoghurt and that is at 9.30am.
  • Lunch is going to be pesto pasta with BBQ chicken and some cucumber, and that’s at 12pm.
  • Afternoon tea is apple – almond meal muffins at is at 3pm
  • Dinner is salmon, broccoli and sweet potato and is at 6pm.
  • And all these meals are at the dining table

As you can see, that is quite a structured and well thought out menu, with lots of wholefoods, but still kid friendly.

So the ‘division of responsibility model’ has been followed to a tee.  Whether your child eats any of this, or how much is up to them.  If they don’t eat breakfast, don’t stress.  But the next food is at 9.30am. 

Once you start ‘forcing’ your child to eat, to finish their plate is where things go awry.  You are then training your child to ignore their hunger and fullness cues.  If they don’t eat, they don’t eat.  But there are no other options.

Know that their child can listen to their body is key to knowing how much to feed them.

What’s the catch?

Of course, there are caveats.

If your child is a fussy eater, you need to make sure the food you are planning and serving is within their capabilities.  You need to meet them where they are at. 

If you, as a parent, decide that morning tea is donuts and lunch is McDonalds, you have to appreciate that these foods are addictive, and not conducive to your child understanding their hunger and fullness cues.

Red flags

If you child’s appetite is very low and they are dropping percentiles on the growth chart or are lethargic or fatigued, you need to ask for help from a specialist like us.  Something is obviously not working.

If your child is climbing the percentiles and is above the healthy weight range, this is also a sign that you need to ask for help.

If you came looking for grams of this food or cups of that food, sorry!

Follow the Division of responsibility and base the menu around whole foods, and this will be your best guide.

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