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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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
 

 

 

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Factsheets for Health & Childcare Professionals

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Guidance & Tips
for Parents

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