5532 a-day – perfect portions for toddler tums!
Toddlers aged 1-3 years are growing and developing quickly and it’s an important time to make sure they are eating well to get all the nutrients they need as well as getting into the habit of eating a healthy, varied diet. However, for parents and carers it can be hard to know exactly what toddlers should be eating and in what amounts. This guide is designed to help parents and carers choose a healthy, varied diet for their child.
You can download our handy poster for free. It is attached in the link below.
Toddlers need a diet made up of foods from the four main food groups, in the right balance and in portion sizes just right for them.
*3 portions if child is vegetarian.
Some examples of foods that are included in each group and a range of portion sizes suitable for this age group are shown below. Fluids are also important – offer 6-8 drinks per day. Water and milk are good choices and diluted fruit juice (1 part juice to 10 parts water) can be offered at mealtimes.
|Food group||Example foods and toddler portion sizes|
|Starchy foods||½-1 slice of bread1-2 rice cakes or oat cakes
3-5 tbsp breakfast cereal
1-3 tbsp mashed potato
2-4 tbsp cooked pasta/rice
2-4 potato wedges
2-4 tbsp canned spaghetti hoops
|Fruit & vegetables||½-2 tbsp raisins¼-1 banana
½-2 tbsp peas
½-2 tbsp broccoli
¼-½ medium apple
1-3 cherry tomatoes
2-6 vegetable sticks
2-4 tbsp canned fruit
|Dairy foods||1 beaker of milk (100ml)1 pot of yogurt (125ml)
1 cheese triangle
2-4 tbsp rice pudding
1-3 tbsp cheese sauce
2 small yogurt tubes
|Protein foods||2-3 tbsp chickpeas, kidney beans, dhal, lentils or beans2-4 tbsp cooked minced meat
1-2 fish fingers
2-3 tbsp baked beans
½-1 poached, boiled or fried egg
Peanut butter on bread or toast
These foods can be offered as meals and snacks. Children’s food preferences and appetites vary from day to day so let your toddler decide how much to eat and keep offering new foods alongside familiar favourites. Fats and oils contain essential nutrients and small amounts can be included in toddlers’ diets. Use butter and spreads sparingly and use small amounts of oil in cooking.
You can offer small portions of sweet foods (e.g. chocolate, biscuits, cakes) or salty snack foods (e.g. crisps, corn snacks) occasionally but these shouldn’t be a regular part of a toddler’s everyday foods.
Children under 5 should have a daily supplement of vitamins A, C and D – ask your GP, health visitor or pharmacist for more information.
Our 5532 guide was developed using expert opinion and recent research that has taken into account both types and portion size of foods that children eat in the UK, as well as government recommendations on nutrient intakes in this age group.
Toddlers’ appetites vary from meal to meal and day to day and their needs will depend on factors like their age and how active they are so we have provided a range.
There are currently no standard government requirements for portion sizes of the foods toddlers may eat.
There are some other guides available where the portion sizes may differ slightly as they may have been developed using different methods or for slightly different age ranges. The important thing to remember is to give your toddler a healthy varied and balanced diet from the food groups.
Developed by British Nutrition Foundation. Further food examples and more advice can be found at www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/toddlers.