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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Toddler Meals: How Much Do They Need?

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Quick Overview

Toddlers require a healthy varied and well-balanced diet to thrive and grow. During the course of the day toddlers should usually be offered three meals and two to three snacks. The foods they are given should be part of a mixed balanced diet designed to meet their nutritional needs

Toddler enjoying a piece of fruit

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  • Toddler enjoying a piece of fruit
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Guidance & Tips for Parents

  • Toddlers have smaller stomachs than adults and so need to eat smaller amounts of food more often. They should be offered three meals and two or three planned snacks a day
  • Most toddlers quickly learn to control their food intakes to meet their energy needs for normal growth and development
  • Like adults, children regulate their food intakes by feeling hungry when they need food and feeling full when they have eaten and drunk enough
  • Forcing toddlers to eat when they do not want to, or withholding food that they like, can interfere with their food intake control
  • Insisting that toddlers finish up what is on their plate can interfere with their food intake control
  • Do not allow your toddler to 'graze' on food in between meals and snacks; they will not develop good control of food intake
  • Do not withhold snacks to make your toddler 'hungry' for the next meal. This can upset his or her food intake control
  • Forcing your toddler to finish food that he or she does not like can make mealtimes stressful. This may cause your toddler to refuse food
  • If your toddler does not finish the first course, remove the food without making any comment and move on to the next course
  • Do not say 'you can't have pudding until you've finished your first course'. This makes pudding seem even more desirable
  • Do not use sweets or snacks as a reward because this will make these foods seem more desirable to your toddler
  • There is no such thing as an 'ideal' portion size for all toddlers. A large active toddler will need more food than a smaller, less active child
  • Do not worry if your child is a fussy eater. He or she may still be in control of their food intake, although regulation may be week-to-week rather than day-to-day
  • If your child is growing well and developing normally, then do not worry too much about their eating habits. Growth and development is a better indicator of appropriate food intake than mealtime behaviour




Factsheets for Health & Childcare Professionals

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Guidance & Tips
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