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Dietary guidelines in pictures: children 4-8 years

4-8 years

Daily dietary guidelines for children 4-8 years

Children need a wide variety of healthy foods from each of the five food groups. How much food children need depends on body size and activity levels.

Children aged 4-8 years should aim for 1½ serves of fruit; 4½ serves of vegies; 1½-2 serves of dairy; 4 serves of grains; and 1½ serves of lean meats, nuts and nut pastes and legumes.

Children need lots of water – the cheapest, healthiest and most thirst-quenching drink. They need more water on hot or humid days and if they sweat a lot. 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 (no added sugar). Offer 1½ serves 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 4½ 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 (reduced fat or calcium-fortified soy); or 2 slices of cheese; or ¾ cup (200 gm) yoghurt; or ½ cup ricotta cheese. Offer 1½-2 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 30 gm (1½ tablespoons) peanuts, almonds or sunflower seeds. Offer 1½ serves a day.

‘Sometimes’ foods: avoid foods containing high levels of saturated fat, sugar and salt (cakes, biscuits, chips and fried foods). You can include a small amount (7-10 gm) of unsaturated fats – for example, 1 tablespoon of nut butter or ¼ 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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