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This question was answered by Dr Han Wee Meng, who heads nutrition and dietetics at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Got a question? E-mail us at email@example.com.
What measures can I take if my toddler is overweight?
Don’t be flxated by the absolute weight gain; you should look at the growth chart in the health booklet issued by the hospital at birth.
The chart allows your child’s growth and development to be compared against his peers.
If you find that your toddler is very large for his age – for example, he is among the higher percentile of the growth curve – take these steps.
DO NOT OVERFEED
Every child is born with an ability to self-regulate his own feeding. Understand his cues for hunger and fullness, and respond appropriately. Avoid forcing him to eat when he refuses food. Just remove the unfinished portion without fussing over it.
RECOGNISE HIS STOMACH CAPACITY
It is unrealistic to expect your little one to take three substantially-sized meals a day like an adult. He may also not have the attention span to sit still and eat for long periods. Instead, offer small and nutrient-dense snacks. Space his meals out throughout the day.
INTRODUCE HEALTHY FOODS NATURALLY
Don’t dangle the promise of “special treats” – for example, cupcakes – just to get him to eat something he doesn’t like, such as vegetables. Neither should you focus too much about the healthier food choices that he needs to take.
FOCUS ON MEALS, NOT ON SCREENS
Avoid distractions such as television and smartphones during meal times. This helps turn the focus on what and how much is eaten, which helps your toddler to recognise cues of fullness.
ENCOURAGE AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
Forget the stroller; motivate him to walk instead. Having routine exercises can also help improve his motor skills and coordination. Limit his screen time to less than two hours per day.