1. Toddlers
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Dietary guidelines in pictures: children 2-3 years

2-3 years

Daily dietary guidelines for children 2-3 years

Toddlers need a wide variety of healthy foods. You decide what your toddler eats from the five food groups. He decides whether to eat and how much. Think about what he eats each week, rather than each day.

Toddlers’ appetites vary from day to day. Suggested daily serves are 1 serve of fruit; 2½ serves of vegies; 1½ serves of dairy; 4 serves of grains; and 1 serve of lean meats, nut pastes and legumes. 

Toddlers need lots of water – the cheapest, healthiest and most thirst-quenching drink. Offer extra water on hot or humid days. Avoid soft drinks, fruit juices, flavoured milk and water, sports drinks and energy drinks.

Food groups: daily serves of fruit, vegetables, cereals and grains

Fruit: 1 serve = 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear; or 2 small plums, kiwi fruits or apricots; or 1 cup diced or canned fruit drained (no added sugar). Offer 1 serve a day.

Vegetables: 1 serve = ½ medium potato (or sweet potato or corn); or ½ cup cooked vegies (broccoli, spinach, carrots, pumpkin); or 1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegies; or ½ cup cooked, dried or canned beans or lentils. Offer 2½ serves a day.

Cereal and grains: 1 serve = 1 slice of bread; or ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, noodles, quinoa or polenta; or ½ cup porridge; or ⅔ cup wheat cereal flakes; or ¼ cup muesli; or 1 crumpet or small English muffin. Offer 4 serves a day – wholegrain is best.

Food groups: daily serves of dairy, protein and ‘sometimes’ foods

Dairy: 1 serve = 1 cup (250 ml) milk (can be reduced fat for children over two years) or calcium-fortified soy milk; or 2 slices cheese; or ¾ cup (200 gm) yoghurt; or ½ cup ricotta cheese. Offer 1½ serves a day.

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes: 1 serve = 65 gm cooked lean beef, lamb, veal or pork; or 80 gm cooked lean chicken or turkey; or 100 gm cooked fish fillet or 170 gm cooked tofu or 2 large eggs; or 1 cup cooked lentils, chickpeas or canned beans; or 1½ tablespoons nut pastes and spreads (whole nuts can be a choking risk). Offer 1 serve a day.

‘Sometimes’ foods: avoid foods with high levels of saturated fat, sugar and salt (cakes, biscuits, chips and fried foods). You can include a small amount (4½ gm) of unsaturated fats – for example, 1 teaspoon olive oil in cooking or ⅛ of an avocado.

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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