New research reveals how toddlers need more refuelling than parents might realise.
Most toddlers love to charge around and its often tiring work trying to keep up with them, but it may surprise many parents just how much energy these little ones are burning in one day. According to a new study, a toddler’s daily energetic antics burn the equivalent to an adult running half a marathon in an hour, or dancing 30 Strictly-inspired Samba routines in a row.
Experts at baby food company, Kiddylicious, have also found that the average toddler covers around 5,000 steps an hour – which is more than the average adult will cover in the whole day. That’s equivalent to walking two and a half ADULT miles an hour and for Olympic athlete and Strictly Come Dancing star Greg Rutherford, who has a 23-month-old son called Milo, he would have to long jump for 90 consecutive minutes. With this in mind, Kiddylicious is on a refuelling mission as many parents do not realise how much extra nutrition is needed to fuel this important stage of growth and development between 12 and 24 months.
In a recent survey of Brit parents, Kiddylicious found that almost half could not correctly identify how much energy their child was expending in a day. Furthermore, over two thirds of London parents said they view snacking as a negative habiti which Kiddylicious and expert nutritionists have identified as a key way to refuel their energy.
Figure 1; Milo Rutherford in action! #TurboToddlers
A toddler’s daily antics can equate to an adult running a marathon in two hours. “Toddler energy needs are high compared to their body size; 1 and 2-year-old children need to fuel their bodies with twice the amount of energy (per kilo of body weight) to that of an adult”, explains Dr Ali Hill, Registered Nutritionist and Course Leader for BSc Sport Coaching at Southampton Solent University.
“Being a toddler is a very busy time”, explains Dr. Hill. “At this stage of development, they are busy learning new skills like how to move and how to communicate, whilst growing rapidly. Energy consumption needs to reflect this and their eating pattern at this age should be based on small meals and snacks.” Snacks are important because, at this age, toddlers tummies are too tiny to get all the energy they need from meal times alone. Experts advise that at around 12 months, children should be offered three main meals and two or three healthy snacks each day to maintain their energy levels, and to help keep them going and growing.
The research, called the Turbo Toddlers Project (#TurboToddlers), highlights how a toddlers daily activities, such as running, climbing and crawling, are the same as an adult running with a baby pushchair for 90 minutes, playing an entire game of football, or doing three and a half hours of hardcore housework. In order to illustrate the variance between a toddler and an adults level of physical activity (and therefore the required nutrition), Kiddylicious invited an army of 12-24-month old toddlers to a play date at an indoor soft play centre, and worked with Dr. Ali Hill to analyse the results:
“We looked at how much energy toddlers burned and number of steps taken within an hour of play, and considered this against gender, body weight, and the level of energy consumption required for rapid development and growth at this age. The average toddler expends about 30-32kcals of energy an in hour, but several of the toddlers at the play-date spent six or more times that!”
A spokesperson from Kiddylicious added: “All toddlers at this age are energetic, but many may need more refueling, more often! Milo Rutherford, who clearly takes after his Dad, covered two and half adult miles in an hour – that’s more than the average adult walks in a whole day!”
Dr Ali Hill is a Registered Nutritionist and Course Leader for BSc Sport Coaching at Southampton Solent University and her areas of academic expertise are nutrition, healthy eating, diet and physical activity. She also specialises in nutrition for athletes and events (e.g. first marathon/triathlon); foetal programming (effect of diet in pregnancy on the offspring in later life); obesity; fats; and diet and the immune system.
The survey was conducted by Atomik Research in June 2016 and the toddlers energy usage and steps taken were measured using FitBit Zip energy trackers.
The average adult walks between 3-4,000 steps a day. Milo Rutherford walked 4,934 steps in an hour, which equates to two and a half adult miles (based on 2,000 adult steps to the mile).