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Forum Name: Pediatric Topics

Question: Toddler eats constantly


 Omegastring - Fri Nov 27, 2009 11:45 am

My son just turned 3 years old and I have a concern about his eating habits. He is a very big boy, 40 " tall and 42 lbs and thin.

To give you an idea of how much he eats (and that I"m not over exaggerating) I will go over yesterdays eating routine:

7:00am breakfast - a bowl of cereal, peanut butter sandwich, yogurt.

8:00am - banana.

8:30am - yogurt, half of a peanut butter sandwich.

10:00am - small bowl of triscuit crackers and half an apple -

11:00am 5 pieces of cheese and whole wheat crackers. -

12:30pm 2 and a half pieces of chicken, bowl of rice and 4 pieces of broccoli -

2:00 pm - cheese and grapes-

3:00pm ham and swiss sandwich.

5:00pm - yogurt and 10 raspberries.

6:00pm - big plate of spaghetti and garlic bread.

6:30pm 4 celery sticks and small handful of almonds.

7:00pm popcorn, granola bar.

8:00pm - bowl of cereal.

8:30pm - crackers.

8:30 is the latest we feed him, but always insists that he is hungry. He is very very active, constantly moving, jumping and running and wont sit still for more then 40 seconds. I wonder if its possible that he is actually this hungry or if hes eating out of boredom or habit? It seems impossible that he could be this hungry, but if I don't give him something to eat when he says hes hungry, he will go to foods that he doesnt even like to eat (like carrots, pears and if enough time goes by even cottage cheese which he is usually completely disguested by). He is not chubby in the least, he looks and acts very fit (you can see abdominal muscles) and it seems as though he is burning all of his calories, but I'm concerned that there will be problems in the future. He probably eats more then me and my husband together and hes only 3. His pediatrician says he is very healthy and to let him eat when hes hungry, but it just seems excessive.

People are always concerned that their toddlers don't eat enough and I am unsure if my sons eating is ok or if I should somehow adjust his behavours? or unsure how to proceed. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
 Debbie Miller, RN - Sat Dec 19, 2009 2:46 pm

User avatar Hello,
Children experience growth spurts where they need more calories and use them for growth and energy. With a healthy diet such as you describe, and in absence of concerns for overweight, I would not worry about this. Chances are his appetite will change in time but it sounds like he has a very high metabolism. If he is active physically he is probably burning lots of calories. Frequent eating is often better than three "large" meals as it sustains a more even blood sugar.

You should periodically have your child examined in a well-child visit with his pediatrician but I suspect this is not of concern. At your visit, the doctor will probably consider family size history and other factors such as the pattern of growth on a normal curve. The important thing is that he stay in the normal growth curve even if he is in the 90th percentile. If he/she is concerned, test may be ordered for thyroid function just to be sure there are no other concerns but I don't think you will find any problems. Some childhood conditions that include overeating are usually manifest by excess weight. This does not sound like your child.

Best wishes.

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