Emily Oster

3 min Read Emily Oster

Emily Oster

Is My Toddler Overeating?

Q&A on portion size

Emily Oster

3 min Read

My partner and I have the opposite problem to the one you are often talking about on ParentData, about fussy eaters. Our 2-year-old daughter eats basically everything and always wants more, so how do we know what portion size is reasonable? Since she started with solid foods at six months old, she has eaten almost everything we’ve put in front of her. Now that she’s learned to ask for more, she does that all the time, even after second and third helpings. We’ve read that babies know their limits, but that obviously doesn’t apply to older children and adults, so we’re not sure if and when we should be worried about her overeating. Our health visitor (a kind of local community nurse, a public service here in the U.K.) gave us a guide with portion sizes that are ludicrously small (e.g. 2-3 berries or grapes as a snack for a child aged up to 2 years): our daughter eats multiples of the amount they suggest. Very grateful for any advice or guidance on this.

—Rob

Kids, like adults, vary a lot in how much they eat. This is true both across people and over time within a person. Once, my 1-year-old ate an entire pint of blackberries in 15 minutes (do not recommend — terrible poop consequences). On other occasions, she would eat more or less nothing all day.

Kids are actually much, much better than adults at figuring out whether they are hungry. As adults, we typically eat on a fixed schedule, a fixed amount, and, often, unfortunately, either over- or undereat trying to achieve some particular goals. Kids are more natural intuitive eaters. Which is good! What many of us would like to do is raise kids with expansive tastes, who eat when they are hungry and not when they are full. That’s the idea behind “intuitive eating.”

a toy bear sitting on a blue chair and a blue table with meal in front
Getty Images

This is not the same as saying that there should be no restrictions or guidance coming from you. Most kids have a pretty strong sweet tooth, and you would not want your child eating unlimited candy (or unlimited blackberries, or unlimited anything). The opportunity for you is to provide a balanced set of foods.

This is well-encapsulated in the advice You decide what they eat; they decide how much. You offer a set of foods — ideally a balanced diet with protein, some carbs, vegetables, fruits, fat, some treats, etc. — and they choose how much. You might choose to put some restriction on this — say, no seconds on dessert — but overall, giving your child the control to have more chicken … this is a good idea.

Also, three grapes is not a sufficient snack for anyone. That has about 6 calories. Your child needs about 1,300 calories a day. So while fruit is a good part of a snack, three grapes is ridiculous.

(Final note: There are some genetic conditions in which people lack fullness hormones and will overeat to the point of illness. If you have this concern, it would be a good idea to discuss with your doctor. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.)

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It has been a busy summer for the team at ParentData. I’d love to take a moment here to celebrate the 400k milestone. As I’ve said before, it’s more important than ever to put good data in the hands of parents. 

Share this post with a friend who could use a little more data, and a little less parenting overwhelm. 

📷 Me and my oldest, collaborating on “Expecting Better”

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It has been a busy summer for the team at ParentData. I’d love to take a moment here to celebrate the 400k milestone. As I’ve said before, it’s more important than ever to put good data in the hands of parents.

Share this post with a friend who could use a little more data, and a little less parenting overwhelm.

📷 Me and my oldest, collaborating on “Expecting Better”
...

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Comment “link” for an article with other tools to help you navigate risk and uncertainty.

#emilyoster #parentdata #riskmanagement #parentstruggles #parentingstruggles

I spend a lot of time talking people down after they read the latest panic headline. In most cases, these articles create an unnecessary amount of stress around pregnancy and parenting. This is my pro tip for understanding whether the risk presented is something you should really be worrying about.

Comment “link” for an article with other tools to help you navigate risk and uncertainty.

#emilyoster #parentdata #riskmanagement #parentstruggles #parentingstruggles
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Original thread source: Reddit @croc_docs

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Do any of these findings surprise you? Let us know in the comments!

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Dr. Gillian Goddard sums up what she learned from the Hot Flash S e x Survey! Here are some key data takeaways:

🌶️ Among respondents, the most common s e x u a l frequency was 1 to 2 times per month, followed closely by 1 to 2 times per week
🌶️ 37% have found their sweet spot and are happy with the frequency of s e x they are having
🌶️ About 64% of respondents were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of the s e x they are having

Do any of these findings surprise you? Let us know in the comments!

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#parentdata #emilyoster #flyingwithkids #flyingwithbaby #carseats #carseatsafety

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Here’s what we know from a data standpoint:
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✈️ Cars are far more dangerous than airplanes! The same JAMA paper suggests that if 5% to 10% of families switched to driving, then we would expect more total deaths as a result of this policy.

If you want to buy a seat for your lap infant, or bring a car seat for an older child, by all means do so! But the additional protection based on the numbers is extremely small.

#parentdata #emilyoster #flyingwithkids #flyingwithbaby #carseats #carseatsafety
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SLEEP DATA 💤 PART 2: Let’s talk about naps. Comment “Link” for an article on what we learned about daytime sleep!

The first three months of life are a chaotic combination of irregular napping, many naps, and a few brave or lucky souls who appear to have already arrived at a two-to-three nap schedule. Over the next few months, the naps consolidate to three and then to two. By the 10-to-12-month period, a very large share of kids are napping a consistent two naps per day. Over the period between 12 and 18 months, this shifts toward one nap. And then sometime in the range of 3 to 5 years, naps are dropped. What I think is perhaps most useful about this graph is it gives a lot of color to the average napping ages that we often hear.

Note: Survey data came from the ParentData audience and users of the Nanit sleep monitor system. Both audiences skew higher-education and higher-income than the average, and mostly have younger children. The final sample is 14,919 children. For more insights on our respondents, read the full article.
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#parentdata #postpartum #postpartumdepression #paternalmentalhealth #newparents #emilyoster

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Head to the newsletter for more and stay tuned for part two next week on naps! 🌙

#parentdata #emilyoster #childsleep #babysleep #parentingcommunity

SLEEP DATA 💤 We asked you all about your kids’ sleep—and got nearly 15,000 survey responses to better understand kids’ sleep patterns. Comment “Link” for an article that breaks down our findings!

This graph shows sleeping location by age. You’ll notice that for the first three months, most kids are in their own sleeping location in a parent’s room. Then, over the first year, this switches toward their own room. As kids age, sharing a room with a sibling becomes more common.

Head to the newsletter for more and stay tuned for part two next week on naps! 🌙

#parentdata #emilyoster #childsleep #babysleep #parentingcommunity
...

Weekends are good for extra cups of ☕️ and listening to podcasts. I asked our team how they pod—most people said on walks or during chores. What about you?

Comment “Link” to subscribe to ParentData with Emily Oster, joined by some excellent guests.

#parentdata #parentdatapodcast #parentingpodcast #parentingtips #emilyoster

Weekends are good for extra cups of ☕️ and listening to podcasts. I asked our team how they pod—most people said on walks or during chores. What about you?

Comment “Link” to subscribe to ParentData with Emily Oster, joined by some excellent guests.

#parentdata #parentdatapodcast #parentingpodcast #parentingtips #emilyoster
...

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Prevention is key! I suggest:
⭐ Regular tick checks
⭐ Using bug sprays with DEET 
⭐ Wearing long sleeves and pants in the woods

Some parents worry about DEET, but repellants with up to 30% DEET are recommended by both the CDC and AAP. The data says you’re in the clear, so go for it. Enjoy your summer!

#parentdata #emilyoster #tickseason #bugbites #bugspray

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Prevention is key! I suggest:
⭐ Regular tick checks
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⭐ Wearing long sleeves and pants in the woods

Some parents worry about DEET, but repellants with up to 30% DEET are recommended by both the CDC and AAP. The data says you’re in the clear, so go for it. Enjoy your summer!

#parentdata #emilyoster #tickseason #bugbites #bugspray
...