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What you need to know about portion sizes

Children age 1 to 4 have small tummies. They can only eat small amounts so the food they eat and drink needs to be nourishing.

Your child’s appetite

Use your child's appetite as a guide to help you decide how much food to offer them. Their appetite can increase as they grow.

Smaller younger children will eat less. Taller older children will eat more. Children who are more physically active will eat more.

Children age 2 and older need to be active for at least 3 hours every day.

As they grow, you can increase the amount of food you give at mealtimes.

Your child also needs a vitamin D supplement from Halloween to St Patrick's day.

Vitamin D supplement for children age 1 to 4

Regular meals and snacks

Offer your child 3 meals and 2 to 3 healthy snacks each day. Having regular times for meals and snacks sets up healthy eating habits for life.

How to give the right portion


  • give your child a portion that matches their size - they can ask for more if they are still hungry

  • use the children's food pyramid as a portion guide

  • give them child-size cutlery to make it easier for them to feed themselves

  • give them child-size plates and bowls


  • do not give your child the same amount of food as you

  • do not give them large portions - even if it's healthy food

  • do not pressure your child to eat all on their plate if they say they are full

Plate and bowl size

Use child-size plates and bowls to help you decide on portion size. This can help you see if you’re giving your child enough to eat or too much.

The recommended plate size is 20cm. This is around the size of a side plate. An adult’s plate is 26cm.

The recommended bowl size is 11cm. An adult’s bowl is 16cm.

You can buy child-size plates and bowls in most homeware stores.

Children's portion sizes -

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