Judy More, a paediatric dietitian and ITF member, said: “Practical advice on appropriate portion sizes for toddlers has been lacking, so it’s not surprising our survey revealed a significant lack of understanding about how much to feed toddlers.”
She added: “Our advice provides portion size ranges rather than specific amounts, to address the fluctuating appetites of growing children and helps to achieve the correct nutritional balance and calories needed for healthy growth and development.
Gill Harris, a child and clinical psychologist, said: “As health and child care professionals, it’s never too early to start promoting healthy eating habits.
“Most toddlers are naturally better than older children and adults at regulating their food intake. They usually only eat what they need and don’t overeat.
“However, portion size is critical. It’s one of the main ways in which, as parents, we can inadvertently override children’s self-regulation systems.
“Larger portions form our acceptance about what is an appropriate amount to eat and this becomes the ‘norm’. In other words, how much you offer often determines how much your child will eat and habits learned in early life generally tend to persist.”
In response to the survey, the ITF is launching a #rethinktoddlerportionsizes campaign, which aims to encourage families to follow portion sizes more closely.