What makes a Preschooler portion?

  • Use this portion guide as a starting point for your Preschooler.
  • Spread out servings of each food group into three meals and two snacks each day.
  • Snacks should include a variety of food groups, since they can contribute a significant amount to your Preschooler’s daily calories.

When feeding your Preschooler, it’s important to offer portion sizes that are realistic for his tiny tummy. Smaller portions give him time to respond to his own sense of hunger or fullness, and may help keep him from eating more than he needs. As he begins to understand portions, you’re helping him lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy, independent eating.

Picturing what a portion looks like

The following suggested daily intake and portion guide can help you understand serving sizes. It’s key to let your child decide how much he should eat by following his own hunger and fullness cues. Remember to never demand a child “clean their plate” — it could encourage overeating.

Milk: 2 cups/day  

  • Serving sizes: ½ cup milk, 3 to 4 oz. yogurt or 1 slice of cheese
  • Check with your pediatrician regarding type of milk (and whether it’s whole, reduced or low-fat) is best suited for your child’s needs

1 cup/day

  • Serving sizes: ⅓ cup soft-cooked, peeled, diced or cut-up veggies
  • Adding pureed vegetables to soups and sauces is a good way to work veggies into the diet

1 cup/day

  • Serving sizes: ⅓ cup soft, peeled, diced or cut-up fruit
  • 4 fl. oz. of 100% fruit juice is also considered a portion of fruit

Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nut butters: 2 oz./day

  • Serving sizes: 1 to 2 tablespoons of any of these foods
  • Make sure meats are well-cooked, diced and easy to chew

3 oz. grain equivalent/day

  • Serving sizes: ½ cup cooked pasta or rice or 1 slice of whole-grain bread 
  • Choose whole-grain pasta and brown rice when possible

Fats & Oils: 1 tablespoon dressing or mayonnaise

  • Use as a dip for soft vegetables, on his sandwich or for mixing tuna or chicken salad


Check out the GerberMenu tool to help plan your Preschooler’s weekly meals.

More tips for eating right

  • A quarter of the daily calories in a Preschooler's diet comes from snacks, so include a variety of food groups in your child’s snack choices.
  • Spread servings of each food group throughout the day. 
    • For example, try serving a fruit, vegetable, dairy and protein at breakfast. Lunch could be a serving of vegetables, protein, grains and fruit. For a snack, offer him a vegetable like diced sweet red pepper and some cheese from the dairy group.
  • Avoid sugar or artificially sweetened beverages.
  • Fats are needed for growth and brain development. Fats, and some fortified foods, can also provide much-needed Vitamin E. Include healthy fats by offering nut butters, avocados, olive oils and seafood.
  • Many Preschoolers may be getting more sodium than is recommended. Use less salt when cooking and don’t offer the salt shaker at the table. 


How was the information in this article?
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