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Trust toddler's appetite, even when it's adult-sized
Tiny tots with big appetites; cholesterol questions

Date published: 8/29/2004


WHILE I'M A BIG FAN of parents setting rules and drawing lines, I think sometimes we worry too much. This week, I answer questions about feeding children and lowering cholesterol in adults.

QMy 3-year-old daughter has always been a great eater: She will eat everything from tomatoes to salmon. I try very hard to offer her a well-balanced diet with adequate servings of fruits and vegetables each day as well as her dairy products. I try to limit the "empty calorie" foods, but I do not withhold sweets all the time.

My concern is that she always wants more. She asks for more after every snack and meal. And if I don't tell her that she has had enough, I think she really would just keep eating and eating. When we are at big family meals and I am not really limiting what she eats, she will eat as much as the adults (and then has dessert, too!)

She has always been around the 75th percentile for her weight and carries most of it in her belly.

I want her to grow up learning portion control and healthful eating habits. Neither her father nor I is overweight, but obesity runs on his side of the family.

She is healthy, happy and active.

Is it OK to limit her portions? She has three meals and two snacks a day at least. She just seems fixated on food. Help!

--E.I., Oklahoma

ADo not limit your daughter's portions of anything except desserts.

If her weight is around the 75th percentile, that is within normal limits. She is not considered at risk for overweight unless she is above the 90th percentile of body mass index for age. Ask your pediatrician how she falls on the new BMI percentile for age growth charts from U.S. Centers for Disease control, available free online at cdc.gov/growthcharts.

It's normal for toddlers to eat a lot. In fact, the average girl her age needs more than 1,600 calories a day for normal growth, almost as many calories as a grown woman!

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