My toddler eats -- a lot. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 03:07 AM - Thread Starter
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I've been debating posting anything on this topic because I can just hear the criticism I could receive for being worried about my daughter's eating habits. I even criticize myself, worry that my own long-held preoccupation with my weight could be feeding my concerns. Here goes.

My 20-month-old dd loves to eat. She never has, unlike most of my friends toddlers, had a periods of not eating, or eating significantly less, with the exception of when she's been sick or teething. She can eat pretty much as much as I do for breakfast. Same for lunch. Same for dinner. If food is available, she will eat it.

Anyone who eats with us notices how "well" she eats. And she does eat well. She eats most veggies, loves fruit, whole grains. She loves cheese and her milk. On those special occasions when she gets a cookie or cupcake, she devours them. But mainly, when people comment, they are commenting on how much she eats. I'm often amazed by how much she eats, too.

When we get together with friends, any time a mom breaks out the snacks, my DD will immediately stop what she is doing to chow down. And she will continue to eat until the food is put away, even after her friends have resumed playing.

She last measured 32 and 1/4 inches tall and weighed in at 24 pounds 1 ounce. Her ped has never expressed a concern about her weight, but simply notes that unlike a lot of toddlers, her weight gain hasn't slowed down since she started walking.

But she does have quite a tummy on her. She outgrows her pants in the waist before the length. There is a family history of morbid obesity and diabetes on DH's side. DH and I have always had to watch our weight, even from a pretty young age. I take her nutrition pretty seriously and we generally avoid processed foods. I try to make sure she is offered veggies at least three times a day. I've been pretty generous with fat, since I know it's so important at this age. We only eat sweets on the weekends, and when we do, it's usually a case of me splitting a cookie with her, or giving her a few spoonfuls of ice cream. In fact, this doesn't even happen weekly.

Does this seem odd to anyone? She's active, but not particularly so. She has never been the type to bounce off the walls all day, and in fact, she's always been more of a talker than a walker (said her first words at 7 months, but didn't walk until 15.5 months). I don't limit the quantity of food she eats at all, figuring that her body knows what she needs. I figure it's just my responsibility to make sure that what's put in front of her is generally nutritious. But I worry, especially after putting her PJs on tonight and noticing how tight the waistband is, but the pants are still on the longish side, if I should be doing something different.

As background, I was a very, very chubby toddler and didn't lean out until I got to elementary school, and even then, I remained on the slightly chubby side until I basically started developing body image issues and began adjusting my diet. My dad used to joke that I could eat more pizza than him when I was 3. Oh, and I'm only 5'2" now.
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#2 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 07:46 AM
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Well, she's very nearly the same height/weight as my toddler, who is decidedly on the skinny side, lol. (Mine is 33", 24lb) My girl also ate basically nothing until the last few weeks and even now is only occasionally interested in food, and only if there's nothing better to do.

Honestly, at that age, I'd just do what you're doing (avoid sweets, encourage whole, healthy foods) and also encourage physical activity. If you can build a habit of healthy eating and physical exercise, you're doing her a huge favor.

Oh and I wouldn't worry about the pants. My skinny mini girl always outgrows pants in the waist before the length, even without cloth diapers. I'm really not sure why, I can count her ribs from across the room, so she is definitely not fat...

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#3 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 09:00 AM
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Ok, I'll ask a gross question. How often does she poop per day?

We eat quite nutritionally, very little pre-processed, but we do also splurge once or twice a week with homemade cookies or ice cream....

My DS ate averagely, was picky eater but not overly so, pooped normally, is about the same now - he is 5. He had some heavy duty eating periods of a few weeks or months, especially when he was a toddler, but would also have periods of eating nearly nothing. Huge head but average weight, height...

My DD is more than 2 years younger than DS, but has always eaten more than he has. She eats everything! She is almost 3. She also had some heavy duty eating periods, but the periods of eating nearly nothing are very rare. Average head, weight, height.... But she was a huge pooper. Excuse me, but she often pooped 5 times a day, sometimes 7 times. What goes in must come out you know? So I figure her body processes food very differently than DS, and for some reason she has to digest more to get the same nutrients or calories...? Just my theory. She stopped pooping so much at about 2-2.5 yo, and now still eats more than DS, but not to such an extreme. (She is also a big talker, though I don't think that has much to do with it!)
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#4 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 09:01 AM
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I would also say that her stats don't seem to put her at particularly 'huge'. My DD is very thin and her eating ebbs and flows, but her best friend eats and eats and eats. He's a big little guy although his belly has gone down since he started walking more. My daughter also mooches all snacks heavily. Her friend's brother (age 4) eats the same amount or less than her friend (age 1.5) so perhaps she'll just keep eating the same amount or drop over time. Keep her busy and keep up the healthy foods.

Different clothes are built differently. I find Old Navy can even be 'too thin' for my daughter at times and she's skinny minny compared to everyone (although the cloth diapers change that some)

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#5 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 09:03 AM
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Yeah, if those stats are right -- 32" and 24lb -- then she's very definitely on the light side, not heavy. DD was 27lb when she was 32-33", and she was NOT chubby, just exactly on 50th percentile.

Now if that was a typo and she's actually, say, 34lbs or something, I still wouldn't worry, YET. With the family history of morbid obesity I'd certainly be keeping an eye on it. But for now I wouldn't make assumptions and start limiting the food which she might actually truly need. When she's more like 5yo it should be more physically obvious if she's "too big".

You say she eats as much as you do and always takes the opportunity to start eating. How is she about FINISHING eating? Would she eat indefinitely if the food kept coming? Or does she say "all done, I'm full" and leave the table - even if that's after a larger helping than you would have expected?

If she is stopping by herself, and seems satisfied, then I wouldn't worry too much for now. There are kids with eating dysfunctions, misfunctioning glands or whatever so they can't actually tell that they're full. They would continue to eat past fullness, even to the point of getting sick and throwing up. As long as she's not doing that I wouldn't be concerned at this point in time.

Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#6 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 10:20 AM
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I think the best thing you can do to avoid long term eating problems is trust that your daughter can self regulate (eat when she's hungry and stop when she's full), teach her good exercise habits, and don't put any pressure on her about food.

My DS is 2.5 and off the chart in both height and weight. He can eat more than me sometimes. For a while when he was around that age, I thought he was getting too big, but looks a lot leaner now. I can see his ribs. He is just really solid and has a wide frame. He has never ever been a picky eater, but recently he has started to have more "preferences". He still eats tons of fruit, veggies, whole grains, like you say. I have had on and off problems with weight and my DH's family has some weight problems, or at least a weird way of looking at food (like there won't be any more if it if they don't eat it all NOW), so I have worked very hard to just give him balanced meals and trust that he will eat what his body needs and stop when he doesn't need any more.

I was like you in that I felt like I couldn't complain because my friends were all trying to get their kids to eat SOMETHING. My MIL can't believe that he will eat raw onion, brussels sprouts, spinach, raw tomato, etc. The funny thing is...he HATES maccaroni and cheese. My kid isn't American.

ETA: I also noticed that he gets a little pot belly when he's about to go through a growth spurt, and then it goes away once he strecthes out some.
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#7 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 10:36 AM
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I totally get where you are coming from. My DD is the same way. She will be 3 next month and is currently 36" and 29 lbs. Not a big kid by any means. She eats non stop and has since she was probably 18 months old. I am actually keeping a food log this week to get a full picture of what she eats. I know it is a lot, but I want to get a better look at it.

To answer a PP she does poop a lot too. It mostly looks digested, which is good. If we allow it (and we have on a few occasions) she will eat and eat and eat till her tummy hurts and she ends up with diarrhea. That is why I am doing the food log. I want to rule out Celiac or the like. I figure if she really needs that much food to maintain such a low-average weight, maybe her body isn't getting the nutrition it should be from her foods. She also has multiple allergies so she is restricted in what foods she can have as it is. At this point I am vacilitating between it being a control thing and her truly being THAT hungry all the freakin time.

Then again, I eat constantly too and I am pretty thin. She could be coming by her appetite and metabolism honestly. i just want to be sure I am not missing something. Hope some of my rambling helped a little.

W (26) and C (27) parenting G (11/06 ) and D (2/09 ) plus a new one (3/11)
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#8 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 11:19 AM
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I agree with what others are saying regarding your DD's height/weight not sounding out of line.

Here are my DD stats from her recent appointments and the percentiles I got for them from an online calculator:

Height Weight
19mo 32" (44 %ile) 23.5# (30 %ile)
21mo 32" (25 %ile) 24.5# (33 %ile)

She is a very active little girl with many food allergies, so our challenge is in making sure that she gets enough calories and fats (even though she eats literally all. day. long.)

Me (36), my DH (37), our DD (12/07), and our new DS (7/7/10)
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#9 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 11:35 AM
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Your DD sounds so much like mine, except my DD is quite a bit heavier (30.5 lbs), and our ped might be a little concerned if she didn't know it was all healthy food she's eating I've had so many worried moments, wondering if I was doing something wrong somehow...

Here's the thing though... DD is 28 months now, and hasn't gained any weight in like 6 months and has gotten quite a bit taller. So I'm pretty sure she's thinning out, even though her face and belly still look roly-poly. And we're not doing anything different in how we parent or feed her...

This totally boosts my confidence that her body knows what it needs! It also helps when I do see her leave food on her plate, even food she loves - doesn't happen often, but when it does, I notice and tell myself, see, her body knows when it's had enough...

*** DH (wed 5/03), DD (6/07), and DS (8/11)
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#10 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 01:56 PM
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My toddler eats a lot and has since around 16m. He wasn't much interested in solids before that and even had a solids strike months 10-11.

At 27m he is 39 inches tall and 35 pounds. His body is in nice proportion. He is just tall with weight to match.

He eats a very healthy diet of three meals a day and not very many snacks. He eats a lot of healthy veg, whole grains, grass fed meat, some whole milk yogurt and bit of milk. I actually don't really encourage him to participate in snack at preschool because if he gets settled there he misses half the play. He will also be happily fed if his hand and mind are busy. I have to way that my MIL "helps" because she will shovel food into him so fast his stomach hurts.

And yes, he poops a lot. =) It is actually making potty training easier because it pretty easy to help him schedule potty breaks.

Your toddler sounds like her body is in proportion and her diet is good. If you are worried that she is a bit to roly, you can watch the milk consumption or make it a little leaner. That really helped one of my friends.
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#11 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the thoughtful responses. I have to be quick because a friend is watching my daughter right now so I can pack (we are moving this weekend, three hours away).

On poop: She doesn't poop a ton, normally. Once to twice a day is typical. Her poop, since we are comfortable being graphic, is very soft and usually quite large. She's been pooping a lot more this week, but I suspect it's because she's been a eating a bit more "crud" this week (eating out, eating stuff out of boxes, which undoubtedly has added sugar and other stuff that isn't in homemade stuff), as well have been, since we are knee-deep in packing and haven't been making us much stuff from scratch. This is very temporary and I totally intend to get us back on track when we get to our new city and house this weekend.

She took to solids very well, especially once we introduced "real food." Wasn't crazy about baby food. She always loved to nurse and nursed frequently, though I think that was mainly for comfort than nutrition. I could barely pump enough to cover what she needed during the day when I was working (I'm a SAHM now). But I also had supply issues.

Perhaps this is just her appetite? I mean, I love food. My DH loves food. I want her to have a healthy relationship with food and I'm happy that she loves her broccoli about as much as she loves her cheese (OK, maybe not quite as much). I just find myself second-guessing a lot because of our family histories, my history of having a dysfunctional relationship with food. And I totally agree that percentile-wise, she's not even close to being chubby. But she looks fleshier than her friends -- I know, I shouldn't compare -- who have all sort of leaned out since turning 1.
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#12 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 03:32 PM
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DD is like this and she's much bigger if that makes you feel better. She's 39" and 35ish pounds.

She has never gone through no eating phases, but she can be picky. She has been eating less lately . But she is super solid with a tummy. She's not fat exactly, but definitely not thin.

I have a weight issue (but need to remember it is medically based) and DH is stocky so I have to work at not worrying.

We do whole foods and I keep an eye on sugar, even healthy sugar. Until recently, we didn't even do crackers, but now use them for as portable snacks 1-2 times a week.

Meals might breakdown like so...

Wake up: 5oz milk

Bfast: Greek yogurt or cottage cheese or eggs, fruit

Snack: cheese or crackers or homemade pumpkin bread or a banana

Lunch: Chili with turkey, beans, spinach tomatoes or organic frozen pesto pasta or organic frozen indian vegetarian meal, fruit

Dinner: hamburger (no bun), pickle, beans, exactly 1 french fry if we have them (Dd doesn't eat them, but likes to lick off ketchup) or homemade pizza or spaghetti (with spinach added) or kielbasa with sauerkraut

I think this is a pretty decent diet.

My feeling is we won't really know if there's a true weight issue for several years b/c DD is still actively growing. So we try to eat healthy and keep her active, let her see us exercising and invite her to join in and just not worry about it.

But yeah, she's a chunk. We do get flak from the ped but they can Suck It.


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#13 of 13 Old 10-15-2009, 10:13 PM
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My son, who is 14 months eats a lot too! He's about 22lbs and 30-31 inches tall. I don't know where he puts it all, but after he finishes eating, he has a beer gut. I make sure he eats healthy things and he loves fruit and avocado. He'll start throwing his food on the floor when he's done. He poops a lot too, usually 3-5 times a day.

Ryan 08-28-08  & Julianna 5-3-11
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