Weight watchers ... Although many parents worry about how much their child eats and drinks, their children are usually growing at a normal rate and it's nothing to be concerned about.

Weight watchers ... Although many parents worry about how much their child eats and drinks, their children are usually growing at a normal rate.

By the time your child can speak, he’ll be able to tell you when he’s hungry or thirsty. Before he can express himself, though, you might be worried he’s not getting enough to eat or drink – especially if you think he’s smaller than he should be for his age. But chances are you don’t need to worry, and that your child is getting all he needs to grow up healthy.

All babies grow at different rates, and the amount they can eat or drink in one sitting will vary from child to child – and sometimes even day to day as his appetite and activities change to suit his growth spurts.

Chances are you don’t need to worry, and that your child is getting all he needs to grow up healthy 

Here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about whether your child is eating and drinking enough.

  • Try to let your child guide you in how much he needs to eat and drink to satisfy himself, as most children this age can follow their instincts to eat the right amount for them. If you think your child couldn’t possibly be full after eating a meal, remember that babies and toddlers have very small stomachs – they physically can’t eat or drink too much at one time.
  • Keeping an eye on your baby’s urine levels can help you know if he’s getting enough liquids. Think about how many wet nappies he has in a day: if he has at least four or five heavily wet disposable nappies (or six to eight very wet cloth nappies) in 24 hours, he’s getting enough liquid.
  • If his urine is light in colour it means it’s being diluted enough. If it’s dark and smelly, however, he might need to drink more.   
  • Is your child getting heavier and taller? Are his clothes fitting more snugly as time goes on? Is his head circumference getting bigger? These are all positive signs of growth. You can also use our online growth chart to track his size by percentile.
  • Check out his skin colour and muscle tone – if it all looks good, chances are he’s growing well. If he’s meeting his developmental milestones around the expected time, that’s all fine too.
  • Just as there are petite and bigger adults, there are petite and bigger babies and children. Some kids can eat a lot and still remain in the lower percentile groups for their age, while others might not seem to eat much but be bigger than other children their age. That’s just the way their body works at the moment – this can change at any time!
Once she'd finished taking her food apart, Maitreya from Wallagoot looked pretty bored by the whole thing. Click for more photos

EB kids eating

Once she'd finished taking her food apart, Maitreya from Wallagoot looked pretty bored by the whole thing.

Remember: If you’re every seriously concerned about your child’s weight, growth or development, see your doctor or early childhood health nurse.

Talk to other parents about weaning and first foods or breastfeeding in the Essential Baby forum.