Preschool-aged children can usually sense how much food their bodies need and eat enough to match this – but they can lose this natural ability if forced to eat.
Encouraging children to ‘clean the plate’ or giving sweets as a reward can lead to longer-term problems of overeating. Offer your child small serves to start and give more if they are still hungry. Meal sizes and overall food intake can vary day-to-day depending on your child’s activity levels and appetite.
As a guide, plan for your child to have three main meals and two to three snacks per day. You can also help your child to learn about the signs of hunger and fullness.
Eating together as a family is a great way to encourage healthy eating habits and to connect with your child. It’s best to have this time away from the TV so your child can focus on talking and eating. Avoid having arguments at the table and allow your child to decide how much they’d like to eat.