• Please enter your login details below:

Forgotten your Password?

Do you know how much food to put on your toddler's plate?


Do you know how much food to put on your toddler's plate?

Are you concerned about how much food to put on your toddler’s plate? You are not alone - recent research from nutrition experts the Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF), shows that some UK parents are overfeeding their 1-4 year olds with 1 in 10 parents giving their pre-schoolers near adult size portions.

With the latest figures showing that one in five children are overweight or obese by the time they start school, practical support for parents is essential.

Parents are putting too much on their children’s plates

The research of 1000 UK mums and dads also revealed that 79% of parents routinely offer portions bigger than the recommended size range for pre-schoolers when serving popular meals (such as spaghetti bolognese and chicken nuggets with chips), drinks and treats.

Did you know that...

  • A serving of spaghetti bolognese for a 1-4 year old child is just 3-5 tablespoons.

  • That crisps, sweets or sweet drinks should only be given to toddlers once a week.

  • A bag of crisps is nearly twice the portion size a toddler should be eating.

  • That a small pack of jelly sweets is three times the recommended amount for a 1-4 year old child.






Our top tips to encourage healthy portion sizes for toddlers

  1. Have a routine and offer 3 meals and 2-3 planned nutritious snacks e.g. fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, cheese cubes, oatcakes, breadsticks or crackers each day, rather than allow grazing.

  2. Don’t use food or drink as a reward for eating other foods first, for good behaviour, or for a treat or comfort. Reward your toddler with your attention e.g. play, read or talk with them.

  3. Distract your child with an alternative activity if they ask for food between their meals and planned snacks.

  4. Limit milk drinks as toddlers need less milk than babies: cut out any bottles and only offer 3-4oz (100-120ml) in a cup. Limit to 3 milk drinks per day or less if they eat yogurt and cheese.

  5. You decide which nutritious foods to offer, but let your toddler decide how much to eat. Never insist that they eat everything on their plate.

  6. If given, limit sweets, crisps and other packet sweets to once a week and decant a small amount into a little pot rather than giving your child the whole packet.

  7. Water is the best choice for drinks. Avoid high sugar drinks including fruit juices and smoothies.


To take the guess work out of how much to feed toddlers, visit the ITF portion sizes guide and the Tot It Up food tracker giving a summary of a toddler’s daily - or more importantly, weekly - food intake, together with tips on how to make small changes to maintain the right balance - www.infantandtoddlerforum.org.

Plus if you would like to join in the chat and compare your experiences with others, please find InfantandToddlerForum on Facebook The Infant & Toddler Forum brings together an independent, multi-disciplinary team of experts and practitioners from child health to develop and share resources on infant and toddler nutrition and health.

Have Your Say

Be the first person to comment on this article, just post a comment below.

In order to post a comment you need to be a member. Join Now | Sign in