Gregory Gordon, MD, Pediatrician

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Picky Toddler

I know you say that toddlers will eat the calories they need, but I'm really worried about my daughter - she is very picky.  When we “serve her healthy foods” she often refuses to eat altogether. She is 23 months old and weighs 25 pounds. Our doctor assures us that she is growing consistently on the growth chart.  Here is a 48 hour diet history.

picky toddler

Saturday:
1 frosted pop tart
6 oz soy milk
20 goldfish
10 french fries
1 pediasure
1 buddy fruit
1 slice of cheese pizza
6 oz soy milk
1 banana

Sunday:
1 sprinkle donut from dunkin donuts
1/2 bartlett pear
30 goldfish
1 banana
6 oz soy milk
6 oz soy milk
1 pediasure
2 cheese pizza slices
1/2 nutrigrain bar
12 scoops chips

 

Good parents worry about the eating habits of their children. Children between 18 to 36 months often eat less than they did at 9-10 months old.

The key here is that she is growing well. Children only grow well when they are getting the calories they need.

Lets examine her caloric intake

Saturday

1 frosted Poptart

211

6 oz soy milk

98

20 goldfish

50

10 french fries

271

1 Pediasure

240

1 Buddy Fruit

60

1 slice cheese pizza

140

6 oz soy milk

98

1 Banana

105

Total Calories for Saturday = 1273

Sunday

1 Sprinkle Donut

300

1/2 Bartlett Pear

50

30 Goldfish

75

1 Banana

105

6 oz soy milk

98

6 oz soy milk

98

1 pediasure

240

2 cheese pizza slices

280

1/2 Nutrigrain bar

60

12 scoop chips

140

Total Calories for Sunday = 1446

The average caloric intake needed for a 25 pound toddler calculates to be between 931 to 1159 calories per day (using two different methods). As you can see she has met and even exceeded these goals on both days. She should have some days where she surpasses her caloric needs and others where she falls short of this average.

The parents of toddlers often feel their children do not eat enough calories. These fears push motivated, educated, rational parents to offer unhealthy foods. Often in the name of “just so she would eat something”. It sounds silly and stupid, until you are the parent watching your toddler not eating - again.

While I agree that her diet could improve, there are many healthy foods mixed into her diet. I like the amount of milk she is drinking and the fact she is getting fruit each day.

This calorie counting exercise demonstrates that she is getting the calories she needs. I hope that this realization will give you the confidence to simply serve her healthy foods, set a good example and wait.

 

Written March 2012 by
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

gregorygordonmd.com is intended to help parents understand the needs and behaviors of children. The information presented in the site is the opinion of Gregory Gordon, M.D. and does not reflect the opinion of his partners. The advice in this site does not apply to all children. Always consult your healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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