"Previous research in older children has shown that the more autonomy the kids have, the less likely they are to act out. For adolescents, the more restrictive their parents are -- the more they act like the food police -- the more likely the adolescent is to eat out of emotional reasons," she said.
Kohn said the take-away message from this study is that parents should work with their child's pediatrician to optimize feeding practices and nutrition and to pass along a "positive attitude about feeding."
Rofey said the most important thing parents need to know about feeding toddlers is that they don't need to eat the same portions as adults do. "The most common thing we see parents with young toddlers do is try to feed them adult portions," she said.
For a 2-year old, a serving of milk is 4 ounces and a serving of meat, poultry or fish is just 1 ounce, according to Rofey. One-half cup of pasta or a half of a small bagel constitutes a grain serving for a toddler, and just a couple of tablespoons is a vegetable serving. A small piece of fruit or 4 ounces of fruit juice is the correct portion for a 2-year old, according to Rofey.
And, when it comes to trying new foods, Rofey recommended being patient. It can take offering a new food more than a dozen times before your child will like the food.
Read more about feeding your toddler at the Nemours Foundation.
SOURCES: Brenda Kohn, M.D., pediatric endocrinolog
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