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What’s a healthy portion for your little one?

How much should I offer my child?

It’s important to encourage your child to eat a variety of foods to help them get used to lots of different flavours and textures, and to make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Two things to consider are:

  1. Frequency of mealtimes and snacks
  2. Serving / portion size

It is recommended that children aged 1-4 years should have 3 meals and 2-3 snacks every day.

It is important for children to have regular meal and snack times throughout the day so that they have multiple opportunities to get all the nutrients they need to grow and develop.

Of course, young children’s appetites vary from day to day; they will have growth spurts and be more active some days than others. Parents and carers can sometimes worry if their child is getting enough food. Having a meal or snack scheduled every few hours can take the pressure off children having to finish every bit of a meal because snack will follow in a few hours.

It’s best to have food ‘little and often’ rather than offer big meals which may encourage them to overeat and over time stretch their tummy.

When serving food, it might be helpful to remember that smaller hands means small tummies. Watch our portion guide animation to see how using child-sized plates and bowls, and your child’s hand can help guide you on how much to offer your child.


Handy portion size guide for under 5’s

You can also download and print off our handy portion size guide below for some portion size help at home.

Portion size guide for under 5s

The handy portion size guide is based on the nutritional needs of young children and offers general guidance on how much food from each food group to offer children, depending on their age.

Remember that children will need a combination of foods from different food groups at each meal or snack.

For example, at breakfast a child may have: a portion of cereal, a portion of apple and a portion of milk.

At snack they may have: a portion of toast and a portion of egg.

By serving a variety of food regularly throughout the day, in child-sized portions, parents and carers can feel more confident they are offering what their child needs to thrive.

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Page last reviewed: 25-10-2022

Next review due: 25-10-2025