What and How Much Should I Feed My Child?

All children need a variety of foods from different food groups.

What and How Much Should I Feed My Child?

 

LET'S START WITH THE BASICS

 

The amount of food your child needs depends on age, sex, and activity level. But all children need a variety of foods from different food groups.

You can make a healthy plate using the tips below.

  1. Fill half your child’s plate with fruits and veggies.
  2. Make one quarter of your child’s plate grains, choosing whole grains most often.
  3. Add a serving of protein. Choose lean protein like chicken, fish, lean beef, or beans.
  4. Offer fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk (instead of whole or 2% milk) to children once they are age two.

Some foods are easy for your child to choke on.

Skip hard, small, whole foods, such as popcorn, nuts, seeds and hard candy. Cut up foods such as hot dogs, grapes, and raw carrots into pieces smaller than the size of a nickel.

All children need a variety of foods from different food groups.

Let's Talk Servings

Young children need the same variety of foods as older children and adults, but since their body size is smaller, they need smaller amounts.

  • plus sign minus sign Fruits

    How Much?

    1-2 Year Olds: 1 cup each day
    2-5 Year Olds: 1-1½ cups each day

    What Counts as a Serving?

    ½ cup of fruit

    • ½ cup mashed, sliced or chopped fruit
    • ½ cup of 100% fruit juice
    • ½ medium banana
    • 4-5 large strawberries
    Choose colorful options
  • plus sign minus sign Vegetables

    How Much?

    1-2 Year Olds: 1 cup each day
    2-5 Year Olds: 1-2 cups each day

    What Counts as a Serving?

    ½ cup of veggies

    • ½ cup mashed, sliced, or chopped vegetables
    • 1 cup raw leafy greens
    • ½ cup vegetable juice
    • 1 small ear of corn
    Fill half your child's plate with fruits and veggies.
  • plus sign minus sign Grains

    How Much?

    1-2 Year Olds: 2-3 ounces each day
    2-5 Year Olds: 3-5 ounces each day

    What Counts as a Serving?

    1 ounce of grains

    • 1 bread slice or small tortilla
    • 1 cup ready to eat cereal
    • ½ cup cooked rice or pasta
    • 5 crackers
    Make one quarter of your child's plate grains, choosing whole grains most often.
  • plus sign minus sign Protein Foods

    How Much?

    1-2 Year Olds: 2 ounces each day
    2-5 Year Olds: 3-5 ounces each day

    What Counts as a Serving?

    1 ounce of protein foods

    • 1 ounce of cooked meat, poultry, or seafood
    • 1 egg
    • ¼ cup cooked beans
    • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
    Choose lean protein like chicken, fish, lean beef, or beans.
  • plus sign minus sign Dairy

    How Much?

    1-2 Year Olds: 2 cups each day
    2-5 Year Olds: 2 cups each day

    What Counts as a Serving?

    ½ cup dairy

    • ½ cup milk
    • ½ cup yogurt
    • ¾ ounce cheese
    • 1 string cheese
    Offer fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk (instead of whole or 2% milk) to children once they are age two.