Guest blogger, Maria: My 15-month-old daughter likes food -- a lot.
We asked an expert and our pediatrician if we should cater to her very large appetite. She's lean and athletic ... and very hungry. My daughter isn't fat by any means, but she can really put the food down -- I mean really put it down.
We can take her out to eat and she'll sit in her highchair during our entire meal and, as long as she has food in front of her, she's happy. Sometimes she'll eat a full plate of pasta, a plate of broccoli AND a bowl of fruit for dessert. I could swear she eats more than some adults. People are constantly saying to me, "I've never seen a baby eat THAT much!" So, just to be safe I asked -- and apparently my husband and I need to put on the food breaks.
I asked Pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson -- and here's what she said:
* This is one to discuss with your pediatrician. Some children really do overeat, but it is rare. More often, voracious eating isn't so voracious after all. If she is growing well and her weight is appropriate for her height, you can be reassured.
* I would talk to your pediatrician about what foods to offer first. In my home, we give fruit or veggies before we give carbs or proteins. So at breakfast this morning, my kids had some melon before their eggs and toast were ready; at dinner, miraculously their broccoli will be on the table before the rest of their food. This is a simple way of making sure that they get fruits and veggies in while they are still really hungry -- otherwise, they tend to choose the less nutritious/higher calorie options.
* Most parents are sure their children are starving themselves because they don't think they eat enough. It always helps me when a patient actually writes down how much her child eats every day for a week. Then there is an objective list to look at, and a better assessment can be made.
So that's what we did. We wrote everything down and went to our pediatrician who told us we should be feeding her the amount equal to the size of an adult fist. She eats an amount equal to the size of an adult HEAD. So she warned us -- we'd better start monitoring this because we don't want her little stomach to become extended and put her at risk for obesity!
Needless to say, I feel terrible that I was so flip about the whole thing. I have started portioning out her food and she doesn't seem to mind -- so far. But, she does seem to be getting thinner and I don't want to starve my baby. UGH. I wish I never asked the question in the first place!