find out about children's appetites - Bubbablue and me
| | |

Childrens appetites – how much do 3 year olds really eat?

However easy the child, parents always have concerns of some kind as their baby grows up.  Eating’s one thing that’s always on people’s minds. 

It starts with the whole breast vs bottle worries – what do you want to do, does breast feeding work, what support is there, what problems do you go through, does the baby get enough milk, do they have too much?

Then weaning hits and it’s the worry about whether to go with pureeing or baby led weaning.  We did the latter as I was convinced it was going to be brilliant, I could understand the theory and N took really well to it (plus I’m lazy and couldn’t be bothered with pureeing and stocking up the freezer!).  It worked really well for us once the OH let us get on with it.

Then there’s the question of how much a child should or does eat.  Obviously with obesity always in the news, parents are more aware and potentially more concerned, while there’s the flipside of children being fussy or just not eating much.  It seems that if you worry, you always hear something against the way you’re doing it. 

If you’ve a fussy eater or light eater you hear ‘they need to eat more’, if they eat lots, you can feel like you’re accused of having a potentially fat child who needs to watch what they eat.  Obviously some children will fall into the extremes and need more support, but on the whole, with children able to self-regulate how much they need to fuel themselves, then there shouldn’t be a panic if they’re given well balanced food options and are growing at a steady rate for them.

I’m quite relaxed about N, although we’ve never really had an ongoing fussy stage, so he’s been easy to feed.  Yes he has days where he only wants yoghurt and mashed potato (usually if he’s not well and wants comfort food), but the majority of the time he’ll eat pretty much anything put in front of him.  He wears standard size clothes for his height, and he looks like a healthy little boy.  Obviously he burns off the huge amount he eats each day.

find out about children's appetites - Bubbablue and me

But I know friends who’ve got children who’re perfectly healthy but have had pressure from other people, whether it be health visitors, doctors, family or friends.  Receiving suggestions that their child is too skinny or has too high a BMI, and that something needs to be done.  All the children are normal size and weight – they either come from families who genetically have passed on tall genes, or come from dainty parents. 

Of course before children’s bodies and shapes grow into the right proportions, they might seem a bit off, but these children are toddlers of all sizes.  All fit and healthy, and all eating sufficient for what they need to function, play and grow.  And I think that’s key for parents to remember – that like adults, all children are different in size and shape, and as long as a healthy balanced diet is offered the child will take and eat what they need. 

So I did some research amongst parents of 3 year olds and put together an infographic to show that what your child eats is probably quite normal.  It’s likely somewhere along a range, as with most other children’s milestones and development stages.

How much does a 3yo eat (2)

Do you worry about your children’s appetites?  Do they eat differently at home and nursery/school?

Love it? Share it


  1. Too funny you wrote this post as we were just talking about if Missy Moo eats WAY TOO much of just having a growth spurt. It’s one of those fine lines between giving them what they want and need for fuel and too much. But I only ever offer good healthy foods so I say not to worry. I was the fattest baby ever until I was 4! So I am not holding my breath or panicking anytime soon. lol Great post and research. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    1. It is a minefield. N astounds me, but once they’re walking they burn it off. N easily does the same distance as me plus some (and faster, more steps), so if I do 10000, he must do lots more. That’s where his food’s going.
      Thanks for stopping by

    1. That’s interesting. Maybe they were concerned there wouldn’t be enough food to go round – I know a girl friend with 3 older brothers and she eats lots and fast, because as a child if she didn’t, she’d have lost it to them!

  2. My daughter is 6 and she’s too skinny but i don’t want to force her to eat because it might be a bad habbit later on. Because when I was a child i was skinny and my relatives keep telling me i should eat a lot. I did and now I gained a lot of weight.

    1. Sounds like you’ve got it right – as long as she eats enough to help her bones later on etc. It’s so hard to know whether it’s genetic or just a childhood thing. I used to be a thin child but really sporty and ate a lot. Obviously once I started work and stopped all the exercise, I put on weight.

  3. Some parents prefer their kids to have high BMI while young. This is because they believe that the fats will convert into height and will make their kids taller as they reach the pre adolescence phase.

  4. I have never really worried about appetites in my children or my grandchildren. I have raised pretty healthy eaters. I honestly feel if you feed your child properly they won’t be as picky as if you let them chose what they want.

  5. Great information. My nephew ate and played a lot at three years old. He was unstoppable.

  6. Wow, I think I’m fortunate. Baby Mash eats very well–and he loves meat, fruits, veggies! Heck he even eats sushi! LOL

    1. Definitely good when children eat well and you don’t need to worry. N eats all of those, although he’s never tried sushi and we’re not fans. But he loves fish so I expect he’d give it a go.

  7. What a lil cutie. These are all questions us mother fear when it is are first time. Great info it should help many. Thanks for shairng.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, hopefully it’ll just put people’s minds at rest that their child might not be as strange an eater as they might think

  8. When my daughter was 3 she was extremely thin and tall. My family was always bothering me about her weight even though the doctor said she was a normal weight for height. Now she is 5 and has filled out, still tall and skinny, but totally healthy!

    1. Your 3yo sounds quite similar to mine. Mostly a good eater, but sometime she says he doesn’t want anything…although usually 15 minutes later he then wants to eat. Thanks for stopping by

  9. It varies from day to day how much LP eats. One day she’ll be stuffing her face and the next she won’t touch anything! x

Comments are closed.