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Foods to limit and avoid for ages 1 to 4

There are some foods you should limit giving your child age 1 to 4, and others you should avoid.

Limit the amounts of fats, spreads and oils in your child's diet. Also limit the amounts of some frozen foods, and avoid takeaways.

Fats, spreads and oils

Your child will get essential fats from only small amounts of fats, spreads and oils. Too much can be bad for their health.

Examples of a small amount:

  • 1 teaspoon of spread on bread
  • half teaspoon of oil in cooking

Always cook with as little fat or oil as possible.

Avoid frying food

Avoid frying food for your child. Try to oven-bake, steam, boil, grill or air-fry foods instead.

Types of spread to use

Choose a spread high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat.

These include oils such as:

  • rapeseed
  • olive
  • sunflower
  • corn

Limit mayonnaise, coleslaw and salad dressings

Limit mayonnaise, coleslaw and salad dressings as they also contain oil.

Limit some frozen and processed foods

Frozen foods such as pizza, chicken nuggets, burgers or chips can be high in fat and salt. If you do offer any of these, only give 1 of them once a week.

Avoid processed meat like ham or bacon. If you do offer these, you should also limit them to a small amount once a week.

Limit treat foods

Your child should not have food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt as part of their daily diet.

These include:

  • sweets
  • chocolate
  • biscuits
  • cakes
  • fizzy drinks
  • crisps

They spoil your child’s appetite for more nutritious food.

Foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt can be linked to weight gain in children.

Sugary foods and drinks can harm your child’s teeth.

Tips on reducing treats -

Avoid takeaways

Takeaways can be high in fat and salt. They should not be part of your child’s diet.

Tips on when a child refuses to eat

Healthy Eating for 1 to 4 Year Olds booklet (PDF, 11.6 MB, 13 pages)

Page last reviewed: 10 July 2023
Next review due: 10 July 2026

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.