Portion Sizes for 1-4 year olds

Use our portion size ranges to find out how much is too much.

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Tot It Up

Use our toddler food tracker to check that your 1-4 year olds are getting a good balance of foods and activity

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Vitamin Supplementation

Q: From what age should you start giving a child vitamin D supplements?

The Department of Health recommend that breastfed infants should be given a daily supplement of vitamin D from the age of six months, up until they are five years old.

Vitamins

Q: Why is vitamin D important for children under three?

Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium into the body and to regulate its movement in and out of the skeleton ensuring strong bones. This is especially important in children as they are still growing.

Iron Deficiency

Q: Why is iron important?

Toddlers need to eat foods that contain iron to be healthy. Iron is vital for red blood cell production, for healthy muscle function, and for nerve and brain development.

Dental Health

Q: How should parents brush their toddler's teeth?

Parents should be advised to start tooth brushing as soon as their child's first teeth erupt. Tooth brushing should be part of a daily routine to establish healthy future lifestyle habits. Teeth should be brushed twice daily – once before bedtime and once at another time – but not before a meal if possible. A child should go to bed having just had his or her teeth brushed; drinks or food should be avoided, apart from water.

Choosing Nutritious Foods

Q: Can eating junk food affect a toddler's IQ?

Yes, research published in 2011 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health indicates that if three year olds are fed a lot of processed foods that are high in fat and sugar, there is a negative impact on their IQ when tested at the age of eight and a half.

Bowel Habits

Q: What colour is normal for a baby's stools?

What is a baby's stool made up of and how do these things influence its colour and consistency?

Drinks

Q: Which drinks are too sugary to offer to young children?

Ideally toddlers should be offered 6-8 drinks per day in a cup or glass, not a bottle. About 100-120ml or 3-4oz is a suitable sized drink to offer toddlers.

Q: What is the difference between whey and casein based infant formulae?

Infant formulae contain whey and casein proteins and are either whey-dominant or casein-dominant.

Q: How much fluid should a toddler have each day?

Toddlers should be offered six to eight drinks per day, but more may be needed in hot weather and if they are very active.

Q: To what ratio should fruit juice be diluted for toddlers?

There is no evidence to support any recommendation on dilution of fruit juice and there are various non-evidence based recommendations made.

Salt in the Diet

Q: Why is salt important for a toddler's diet?

Sodium, which is in salt, is important for healthy muscle, stomach and nerve function as well as being an essential component in the blood. Children need some sodium to grow.

Weaning

Q: How should different textures and tastes be introduced in the first 12 months of weaning?

Babies become accustomed to different tastes and textures at different rates, so parents should introduce new foods at their baby's own pace. Parents should not assume that their baby will not eat certain foods if he or she seems reluctant to eat them at first. Their baby may need to have a small taste of some foods several times before he or she learns to like it.

Functional Foods

Q: What is the difference between a probiotic and a prebiotic?

Probiotics and prebiotics are substances that are found naturally in, or are added intentionally to, some foods.

Faddy Eating

Q: What are the main stages through which infants pass when learning to accept new foods?

Infants go through two main stages in learning to accept foods.

Portion Sizes

Q: I work in a nursery where staff serve different size portions - how much should we be providing?

Toddlers need smaller amounts than adults and older children, but precise or fixed portion sizes are not applicable for toddlers because how much they eat varies widely from day to day and meal to meal.