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Food portion sizes for toddlers

The amount of food that young children eat varies from day to day and meal to meal. Use your child's appetite as a guide to how much you should give them. More active children will eat more.

Vegetables and fruit

Eat a variety of coloured fruit and vegetables. Try to include green, yellow, orange, red and purple to enjoy the variety of vitamins and minerals.

Limit dried fruit to once a week. Dried fruit is sugary and not kind to teeth.

Avoid fruit juices as they contain a lot of sugar and have little fibre. If you choose to give your child fruit juice, give 100% unsweetened fruit juice. It is best to dilute it 1 part juice to 10 parts water.

The safefood website has further information on different fruit and vegetable portions sizes.

Wholemeal cereals, breads, potatoes, pasta and rice

These foods give energy. Give these to your child at each meal.

Try brown rice, wholemeal pasta and wholegrain bread instead of white rice, pasta and bread. Eat baked potatoes with their skins. These are great for fibre.

The safefood website has further information on grain portion sizes.

Milk, yogurt and cheese

Give 3 portions of these a day to your child.

These foods provide calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth.

Try lower fat cheese instead of full fat and limit the amount. You can add low fat milk after 2 years of age. Skimmed milk is not suitable for children under 5 years of age. Limit milk to 600ml a day.

The safefood website has further information on dairy portions.

Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts

These foods provide protein for growth and development. Give them to your child twice a day.

Oily fish - herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, sardines - have omega 3 and vitamin D. These are good for brain and eye development. Eat these twice a week.

Eggs and beans are a good source of protein and iron. Children enjoy eating these and are a good light meal option.

Chicken nuggets, sausages, fish fingers and burgers have less protein and are high in fat and salt. They should not be a regular part of your child's diet.

Children should avoid whole nuts until at least 5 years of age because of the danger of choking. Give your child smooth nut butter without added sugar and salt on wholemeal bread.

The safefood website has further guidance on portions sizes for meats and proteins.

Fats, oils and spreads

You should only use small amounts of these foods.

The safefood website has further information on fat portion sizes.

Food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt

Sweets, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, fizzy drinks or crisps should not be part of your child's daily diet. Filling up on foods from this group spoils your child's appetite for more nutritious food. Sugary food and drinks are not good for your child's teeth. Never use foods high in fat, sugar or salt as a reward or to comfort your child.

Healthy snack options include fresh fruit, vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese and bread. Milk and water are the most tooth-friendly drinks.

The safefood website has guidelines on food that is high in fat, sugar and salt.

Related topic

Healthy eating for families

Children and fussy eating

page last reviewed: 15/03/2018
next review due: 15/03/2021