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 feeding time

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Quick Overview

Feeding a toddler well is a wonderful, challenging responsibility. Little People's Plates is your family's one-stop-shop for practical tips and helpful tools, whether cooking everything yourself or using pre-prepared foods.

Toddler feeding time

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Poor Choices

  • 15% of under 3s are fed adult convenience foods/ ready meals for most meals
  • 29% of the under 3s are tucking into takeaway meals at least once a week
  • 29% of under 3s have chocolate and sweets almost every day
  • 23% of under 3s have crisps almost every day
  • 16% of under 3s have fizzy drinks almost every day

Feeding Patterns / Attitudes

Mealtimes are a regular battleground for almost a third of Mums:

  • 31% described routinely feeling 'angry, tense, anxious, frustrated or upset'
  • 4% have cried when their toddler refused their meals
  • Tots in charge: A quarter (26%) of mums will rustle up alternative food when their child refuses their meal and 18% follow their toddlers around with food whilst they play in an attempt to get them to eat up
  • Less than 1/3 (30%) of Mums only offer toddlers food at planned meal and snack time; 28% offer food to reward good behaviour and more than 1 in 10 (11%) offer food to 'keep them quiet'
  • Almost half - 48% - of Mums use food to control their toddlers
  • Only 35% claim to cook most meals for their toddler from scratch with fresh ingredients especially for their toddler - proving this is an unrealistic expectation for the majority of Mums
  • Yet just 19% are offering foods pre-prepared especially for toddler
  • 1 in 10 Mums give their toddlers 4 or more snacks a day
  • 23% of toddlers eat with their family just once a month or never

Nutritional Know-How

  • Only 27% of Mums think a toddler should have a low salt diet; even less - 21% - think they should have a low sugar diet
  • About a quarter (26%) of parents have no idea how much salt their toddler can have each day - 42% think they can have more than they should
  • 20% think the under 3s need a high fibre diet - in fact a very high fibre diet may lead to digestion problems for some very young children
  • Only 19% of Mums know toddlers need carbohydrates from starchy food at every meal
  • 1 in 8 (12%) thought a low fat diet was right for a toddler
  • Yet 83% of Mums thought their child had a healthy balanced diet

Information Sources

  • 43% of Mums say they have not received clear and consistent advice on feeding the under threes and 27% would want more of this from healthcare professionals
  • Almost three times as many Mums find their nutritional advice for children in the media, books and internet (40%) than via their healthcare professional or health education messages (15%)
  • Only 6% have found the NHS Birth to 5 book the most useful source of information about feeding their child a balanced diet right for their age.

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