What is a balanced diet for a toddler?
Keeping the diet balanced also means generally choosing foods that are lower in sugar and salt
Ensuring a diet of all the required nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and proteins.
Eating a balanced diet for a toddler simply means eating appropriate amounts from each food group;
including fruits and vegetables; breads, other cereals and potatoes; milk and dairy
foods; and meat, fish and alternatives. This ensures that their diet contains all the
required nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and protein, their bodies need. This is
especially important for young children as they rely on these nutrients to grow and
develop properly. Keeping the diet balanced also means generally choosing foods that
are lower in sugar and salt, so eating boiled or baked potatoes rather than salted chips, for
example, and choosing breakfast cereals that do not contain a lot of added sugar. It’s
important to note that toddlers cannot cope with a lot of high-fibre grain foods such as
wholegrain bread and brown rice. Because these foods are bulkier, they can make
young children too full to allow room for other foods their bodies need.
While some 2-year-olds will eat larger portions than others, here is a guide to how
often you should offer each food group:
Breads; other cereals such as rice, pasta and cous cous; and potatoes – offer
these at each meal and also for some snacks
Fruits and vegetables – aim to offer five types each day, including them at each
Milk and other dairy foods, such as cheese and yoghurt – serve about three
times a day.
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs and alternatives (such as nuts*, peanut butter*, lentils,
beans and tofu) – offer once or twice a day for children who eat meat, fish and
poultry, twice or three times for children eating just eggs and/or vegetarian
Because toddlers have little stomachs, they often cannot eat enough at mealtimes to
take in all the calories and nutrients they need. However, offering a healthy snack
from the food groups listed offers an opportunity to top up energy and nutrient levels.
*Note that children under the age of five should not be offered whole nuts, and that
these foods may not be suitable in cases where allergy is a concern.