Portion Sizes for children aged 1-4 years

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Quick Overview

Our portion size ranges can be used as a guide for giving your young child a well-balanced diet with a combination of foods and drinks from the five food groups. They recommend how much to offer your 1-4 year old and have been designed to ensure that his or her energy and nutrient needs are met.

Portion Sizes for children aged 1-4 years

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Guidance & Tips for Parents

Portion Sizes for children aged 1-4 years

Your child needs a nutritious diet to thrive and grow. Give him/her a well-balanced diet with a combination of foods and drinks from the five food groups. Our portion size ranges can be used as a guide for how much of each food to offer your 1-4 year old and they have been designed to ensure that his/her energy and nutrient requirements are met. (Except vitamin D, for which all toddlers need a supplement).

You can be reassured that if your toddler is eating within the range of portion sizes of a particular food, then he/she is eating enough of that food.

View our portion sizes tables

Don't forget! Children aged 1-4 years don't eat set portion sizes like many adults do

How much they eat varies widely from day to day and meal to meal. In general, if your 1-4 year old is taller or more active he/she will eat larger portions of some foods than if he/she is smaller or less active.

Allow your child to eat to his/her appetite. Don't urge young children to finish everything on the plate or to eat more than they wish to. See our Toddler Meals: How Much Do They Need?

Be careful about how much milk and milk products your toddler consumes, as too much can reduce appetites for iron-containing foods. Also, small portion sizes have been recommended for the foods high in fat and sugar because these low nutrient, energy-dense foods should be limited to prevent toddlers becoming overweight or obese.

In the food group tables, foods are listed in the first column, with the portion sizes (lower and upper ends of ranges) in the second column.

Measuring spoonsA NOTE ABOUT MEASURING SPOONS

In calculating the portions sizes, standard measuring spoons were used: 1 tablespoon is 15ml and 1 teaspoon is 5ml. Household spoons vary in size: tablespoons are about 15ml and teaspoons are about 5ml, but can be less.

 

Updated portion sizes guidance

Following original publication of the Forum's Portion Sizes guidance at the end of 2011, summer 2012 has seen the guidance update in accordance with new advice around calorie requirements in UK for young children. To acknowledge this the Forum now recommends that portion sizes for very young toddlers aged 12-24 months are those at the lower end of the portion size ranges in the tables. The energy requirements of these young toddlers are considerably lower than those for children two years and over. Hence we recommend that toddlers under two years of age are not offered sweet puddings, cakes, biscuits, confectionery, chocolate or savoury snacks such as crisps as listed in Food Group 5.

 

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