Experts warn parents against overfeeding as it's revealed slight portion increase can cause obesity

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Baby toddler portion size
If you're a mum to a baby or toddler you could be overfeeding your little one, experts have warned.

A study has found that overweight children between four and 18 months old are usually fed the same kind of food as healthy children, but just in larger portion sizes.

The report, by The University College London, says that lots of mums and dads wouldn't recognise how much children should be eating, so are in danger of overfeeding them, which then causes their babies to be overweight.

To work out what the average parent was feeding their child the experts asked over two and a half thousand British mums and dads to keep food diaries for their infants and report back. The findings were presented as part of the European Obesity Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The diaries that the parents kept detailed what their babies ate, how often they ate and the size of the portion they were feeding them. On average the children who were overweight consumed 141 calories per meal where healthy children had meals that totted up to 130 calories.

As a result of the findings experts are calling for stricter guidelines on portion recommendations for toddlers. Report author Hayley Syrad, from University College London, said 'the research suggests eating frequency is having no impact on weight and it's not that parents of larger children are giving them an extra Mars bar or apple - it's that their portions are bigger.'

Apparently, for every 24 calories extra a baby eats per meal their risk of becoming overweight or obese increases by 9%.

Researcher Hayley added that the repercussions of being overweight as a baby can affect children later in life. She said, 'We know that even birth weight tracks into later life. If children are overweight when they are under two it tracks into adulthood.

'A bigger baby is likely to be a bigger child and then a bigger adult.'

What are the portion guidelines for babies and toddlers?

There isn't actually very much guidance given by the NHS or an official body on the perfect portions for little ones, but according to Public Health England, 'A good rule of thumb is to start meals with small servings and let your child ask for more if they are still hungry.

'Try not to make your child finish everything on the plate or eat more than they want to. And avoid using adult-size plates for younger children as it encourages them to eat oversized portions.'

The British Nutrition Foundation recommends letting your child decide how much they want to eat, too, and offer the infographics below to help parents know what, and how much, to feed they babies.

Picture: British Nutrition Foundation

Picture: British Nutrition Foundation

Picture: British Nutrition Foundation

Picture: British Nutrition Foundation

Picture: British Nutrition Foundation

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Do you have any tips for making sure you're feeding your baby the right amount? Let other mums know in the comments below!

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