Enter the Think Toddler-Sized Challenge - You Could Win £1000! - ENDED

How healthy is your toddler?  As a parent I guarantee that you have wondered more than once whether your child is eating well, whether the balance between different food groups is right, and how you can determine the correct portion sizes.  It seems as though one day all they'll eat is plain pasta, the next it's cheese and cucumber, and the day after that carrots, all day.  What's a parent supposed to do?!

Do You Have An Idea To Help Parents Feed Their Kids Better? It Could Win You £1000!

If you've got a great idea of how to manage it all, the Infant & Toddler Forum want to hear it.  Following their successful Rethink Toddler Portion Sizes campaign last year which helped to raise awareness that it’s not just what we put on toddlers' plates, but also how much, they are now challenging parents to come up with a brilliant new idea that simplifies toddler meal times, and helps parents to ensure they are getting the right balance of food groups, in the right portions.

Last year's campaign got some great feedback, although many parents were genuinely surprised at the amount of food recommended for 1-4 year olds.  Many parents wanted guidance not only on portion sizes but on balance across food groups and how a toddler's meals could even out over a day or week.  There was a real appetite for more information on how to feed toddlers the right balance of foods in the right amounts.

ITF want this to be the biggest ideas-sharing activity in the UK and the campaign has already attracted a number of entries.  They are even offering a fantastic first prize of £1000, as well as some great runners-up prizes.

The idea should concentrate on food groups, balance, portion sizes, and ultimately make feeding toddlers easier.  The ITF's guidance on what foods and in what amounts we should be feeding toddlers are fantastic, but as parents and carers of toddlers we know that for this to be used by everyone, it needs to be practical, accessible and easy to use.  How would you make the ITF guidance easily available?

Judy More, Paediatric dietitian and member of the ITF, says:

"Last year’s campaign reinforced what we already knew, that some parents find feeding their toddlers a challenge as they are not sure about the best foods to offer, and how much they should expect their toddler to eat. However, we know that those caring for toddlers are constantly innovating to solve everyday challenges. So, who better to recommend practical ideas to help take the guidance and make it easy for everyone to use."

The ITF is asking the parents and carers of toddlers aged 1-4 to submit their suggestions on how to get the guidelines out there and make them usable in an easily accessible format.  Whether you already have a method which you use to feed toddlers well, or if you have an inkling of an idea, they need YOU to help solve this challenge!

My idea is a combination of traditional divided plate and new tech in the form of an app, downloadable when you buy the specially designed plate.  Divided plates clearly delineate the different foods into the food groups: carbs and starch, protein, dairy, fruit, and vegetables.  The carefully designed plate would have appropriately sized sections for each food group.

Having downloaded the accompanying app, parents would input the different elements of their child's meal which would then tell them if it is within the recommended guidelines or not, and advise how to even things out over the next snacks and meals of the day.

However, as we know, toddlers don't always eat all the required portion sizes in a day, so the app would store data for a whole week, averaging out the toddler's consumption of the required food groups and amounts over 7 days.  This way the parent will be reassured that their toddler had enough vegetables over the whole week, even if they didn't eat any at all on Thursday, for example.

This simple combination of old skool low tech and new technology will afford parents an at-a-glance idea of whether their child is eating within the guidelines or not.  The added reassurance of the app will provide an accurate overview of how well their child has eaten that week.  This will help to guide further eating, as well as reassuring and educating parents.

Can you do better?  Got another idea?  Hoping to bag that grand, or just share your brilliance with the nation?

Your answer to the Think Toddler-Sized Challenge could involve repurposing something already in the kitchen, an app, or something brand new that you create from scratch.  How can you take all the ITF’s guidance and make it PRACTICAL and easy for all parents to follow every day at every meal?

What's YOUR idea?

Think about:

  • The 4 different food groups: carbs, protein, dairy and fruit/vegetables
  • How often different types food should be offered every day
  • How much should be on the plate – think toddler portions

Visit http://bit.ly/ToddlerSizedChallenge to find out more, join in and share!

Not come up with an idea yet?  Just head over and start liking and commenting, you could win a spot prize!

And don't forget to enter our competitions