Serving sizes for children

As a general rule, everything seems small to parents when they are feeding their children. Persistent myths remain about putting a lot on the table, which often may not be appropriate when it comes to controlling the amounts that children eat. We generally overload plates with more than babies and small children can eat, which can lead to overweight children. The problem is that there are no exact amounts for each baby based on age. Every child needs a different amount to grow and develop properly.

Studies show that if we get plates filled with a lot of food, we tend to eat up to 45% more than we would have if the size had been appropriate.

Children grow very quickly in their first three years, so their nutritional requirements do likewise. From then up to the age of six, growth rates decrease gradually until they reach a stable stage that accelerates again at puberty. Between the ages of 6 and 12, growth is much slower and more sustained, so it is essential to adapt children's serving sizes to their age, gender (girls usually need fewer calories) and the physical activity they do every day.

Age-based advice

  • The first six months: Babies feed exclusively on milk during their early months, provided breastfeeding is possible, or infant formula when breastfeeding is not possible or there is insufficient breast milk. They feed on demand for the first few weeks before changing to every three or four hours, depending on their age. There is no need to be concerned about amounts at this age – simply feed your child when he needs it.
  • From six months to three years: Start on solid foods and alternate them with breast milk until about 12 months. Their first purées should be in small amounts, just a few spoonfuls. As the months progress and you introduce new foods, portions will be larger and milk will be left for breakfast. There are no specific, aged-based purée amounts by the gram that you should be feeding your child. Some children need more than others. You must learn to know how much your child needs. Give your child less than you think ideal and if he is still hungry you can give him more. This is better than putting too much on the plate and getting your child used to eating more than he needs.
  • From three to six years: Children's growth slows at this age. There are tables showing how many grams of each food you should feed your child. However, it is better not to become obsessed with tables and measurements. Use small- or medium-sized plates and give your child around half of what you eat. Adapt serving sizes based on how hungry your child is and the amount of physical activity he has done that day.

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