What are appropriate portion sizes for my Toddler 2+?
When preparing meals or snacks for your child age 2 and older (toddler 2+), keep in mind that he doesn't need as much food as you do. Serve only one-quarter to one-third of an appropriate adult portion to start. Some experts recommend serving 1 tablespoon of each food for every year of age. This may not seem like much to an adult, but it may be just right for a young child.
How Do I Know If He's Hungry or Full?
If your child eats everything on his plate, he'll let you know if he's still hungry by telling you. Let him ask for more instead of automatically giving him additional food. Your child may also ask for or seek out a certain food when he's hungry.
When he's full, your child may lose interest in eating and walk away from the table. Or he may simply tell you that he's full.
A toddler 2+'s appetite can vary from day to day and meal to meal. You may find that some days your child eats very little and other days he eats a lot. That's why it's important to always follow his hunger and fullness cues.
What Foods Should I Serve?
A toddler 2+'s diet should include about three meals and two to three snacks each day. Here's a look at some nutritious food options - listed by food group - and the appropriately sized portion.
2 cups a day
1/2 to 1 cup
Grains and Cereals
3 ounces grain and cereal equivalent
(half of daily grain and cereal intake should be whole grain)
1/2 to 1 ounce grain equivalent
One ounce grain is about:
- 1 slice whole wheat bread
- 1/2 cup cooked whole-grain pasta
Fruits and Vegetables
1 cup of each
soft, peeled; mashed or chopped
soft, peeled, and cooked; mashed or chopped
- red or green peppers
- sweet potatoes
Meats and Beans
2 ounces a day
cooked; mashed, chopped, or easy to chew
- lean ground beef
- chicken breast
- black beans
*Remember that this is only a guide; meals and snacks may vary depending on your child's appetite. For specific questions about your child's diet, ask your child's health care provider.
Learn more about child nutrition
Our Menu Planner generates nutritionally balanced menus that are appropriate for your young child. You can even print a convenient shopping list!