What you need to know about portion sizes

Children aged 1 to 4 years have small tummies. They can only eat small amounts so all 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. Appetite can increase according to your child’s growth.

Smaller younger children will eat less. Older taller children will eat more. Children who are more physically active will eat more.

Children aged 2 and older need to be active for at least 1 hour every day.

How many meals and snacks each day

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.

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

How to give the right portion

Some tips on portions:

  • Give your child a portion that matches their size. Use the children's food pyramid a guide.
  • Do not give your child the same amount of food as you have - they are much smaller than you.
  • Do not give your child large portions - even if you are giving them healthy food. Large portions of any food can lead to your child becoming overweight.
  • Let them ask for more food if they are hungry.
  • Do not pressure your child to eat all the food on their plate. Allow them to stop when they say they are full.
  • Use child-size cutlery. This makes it easier for your child to feed themselves.
  • Use child-size plates and bowls.

Plate and bowl size

Use child-size plates and bowls to offer your child a child-size portion of food. This will help you to know if you’re giving your child enough to eat or too much.

The recommended plate size is a child’s plate or side plate. This should measure 20cm. An adult’s plate is 26cm.

The recommended bowl is a child’s bowl or small bowl. This should measure 11cm. An adult’s bowl is 16cm.

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

Read more tips on portion sizes at makeastart.ie.

Page last reviewed: 30 September 2020
Next review due: 30 September 2023