Why do toddlers eat less than babies?

One of the most common concerns I hear during the second and third years of life is that children become picky eaters. There are a number of reasons why this occurs:

• Children gain less weight in the second and third year and therefore need fewer calories to sustain growth. For example, the average baby gains 15 lbs in the first year of life, but only 10 lbs between one and three years.

• Because jarred foods are watered down, they contain fewer calories per volume than table foods. Therefore, your toddler doesn’t need to eat as much table food to get the same calories she did from jarred food.

• Toddlers love the newfound independence that comes from being able to walk and play. Therefore, they are often more interested in playing than eating.

• Toddlers begin to express their own personal likes and dislikes and will reject food that’s not appealing to them.

• Milk contains a lot of calories. Sometimes toddlers will not eat much because they are getting too much milk. In general, we recommend that toddlers drink between 16 and 24 ounces of milk per day.

• Fruit juices fill children up and contain little nutritional value even if they are 100% juice. Children don’t need juice, but if you use it, be sure to dilute it with lots of water.

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