Your adorable little munchkin has turned two and the world is their playground. Every corner of the house feels like a battle zone and more often, you are running after them to keep them safe and in control. The age of toddlerhood is also a time when your child needs the most energy to grow and develop – physically and mentally.
The nutrition levels change for children as they get older are different and it can be tough for parents to offer them the right food choices that can fulfil all their needs. Like an adult, children too need fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, whole grains and more to meet their nutrition requirements.
While it may feel like a daunting task to get the portion sizes right for children. A little help can get you a long way. And that’s exactly what we will help you with.
To make this process easy for you, we have divided the portion size by age for different age groups, so you can plan your little one’s food choices accordingly.
What Is A Healthy Portion Of Food?
Parents should know about the ‘healthy portion plate’ method to understand how to set the right plate for their children that comprise a little of everything.
A healthy portion plate for children between the ages of 2-5 years will include food items from different groups to meet the nutritional requirements of your growing child.
This includes cereals, dairy, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and more.
Meal Portions For Children
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Portion Size By Age: Two To Five Years Old
For toddlers between the age of two and five years, their portion plates need to include at least two to four ounces of protein every day. This can be divided into two servings for children who like non-vegetarian, while vegetarians can divide it into three servings. You can add the following to the plate for protein:
1 ounce of cooked meat, poultry or fish
Cooked egg – 1
1 tablespoon peanut butter
2-3 tablespoons of pulses
1/4th cup cooked beans
A child’s diet requires two to three servings of dairy products on a daily basis. This includes:
1 cup milk or yoghurt
5-7 tbsp custard
2 oz. processed cheese
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Whole grains are essential in the growth of a toddler, so for your two-year-old, make sure to add three to five ounces of whole grains to their diet every day divided into three servings. You can add:
1 slice of bread
Half cup of cooked cereal
Rice or pasta
1 cup dry cereal
5 to 6 wholegrain crackers
One 4-inch waffle or pancake
One 6-inch tortilla, or half hamburger bun, or a single 3-inch bagel
Rich in fibre and great for digestion, a healthy portion of veggies is an absolute must in your child’s diet. Toddlers need one to a one-and-a-half cup of vegetables every day divided into multiple servings.
You can also increase the quantity if your child wants more. You can divide them as:
1 cup cooked or raw vegetables
or 2 cups of leafy vegetables
Children also need solid fats and oil like butter, ghee, vegetable oil, albeit in limited quantities. This is because children do not need high amounts of fat in their diet. Portion size can include:
1 teaspoon liquid vegetable oil
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise/ ghee
2 tablespoons light salad dressing or 1 teaspoon of zero trans-fat olive oil or coconut oil
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A child’s diet should include one to 1.5 cups of fruit daily. You should include:
half cup chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
1/4th cup dried fruit
Half cup 100 per cent fruit juice, which can increase to a full cup for older children
Parents should also make sure that children have their meals at regular times each day. Make sure to include salt in limited quantity for your child’s health.
For toddlers, the daily consumption of sodium should be 800-1000 mg for toddlers, while older children can consume up to 1200 mg.
Portion Size By Age: 8 Things To Remember
When you prepare food for your growing child, always remember the following:
A one-half portion of the plate should include fruits and vegetables
The other half should be made up of whole grains
Avoid oversized portions
Choose water over drinks with sugar
Tea and coffee should be avoided for children
Limit snacks before mealtimes
Allow enough time for children to eat if they are slow eaters
Keep a check on allergies from foods
At the end of the day, while it is important to help your toddler’s brain continue to grow by feeding him/her the right foods, it is also important to respect their choices. A balance of the two can further propel your toddler’s growth.