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Foods to limit and avoid for 1 to 4 year olds

Children aged 1 to 4 should have limited fats, spreads and oils.

Some other foods should also be avoided and limited. These include some frozen foods. Takeaways should be avoided.

Fats, spreads and oils

Fats, spreads and oils should be given to your child in very small amounts. A small amount can provide them with essential fats. But too much can be bad for your child's health.

Examples of a small amount:

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

Always cook with as little fat or oil as possible. For example, grill, oven-bake, steam, boil or stir-fry.

Types to use

Choose a spread high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat.

Choose rapeseed, olive, canola, sunflower or corn oils.

Avoid frying food

Frying food is not recommended for young children.

Oven-bake, steam or grill foods instead.

Limit mayonnaise, coleslaw and salad dressings

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

Limit some frozen foods

Frozen pizza can be high in fat so limit to a very small slice once a week.

Frozen foods such as chicken nuggets, burgers or chips can be high in fat and salt. They should be limited to once a week.

Limit 'treat' foods

Your child’s daily diet shouldn’t have food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt.

These include:

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

Foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt can be linked to being overweight in childhood.

Having these foods and drinks spoils your child’s appetite for more nutritious food. Also, sugary foods and drinks are not good for your child’s teeth.

Read tips on reducing your child’s treats on

Related topics

Read more about 'treat' foods and ideas for healthy snacks to give your child

Avoid takeaways

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

Related topics

Find tips on when a child refuses to eat

Department of Health: Healthy Eating for 1 to 4 Year Olds booklet

page last reviewed: 30/09/2020
next review due: 30/09/2023