Child-Size Servings

Young children's appetites can vary widely from day to day, depending on how they are growing and how active they are. As long as they have plenty of energy, are healthy, are growing well, and are eating a variety of foods, they are probably getting enough of the nutrients they need from the foods they eat. If you are concerned about you child eating too much or too little, check with your doctor or other healthcare provider.

  • Children two to three years of age need the same variety of foods as four to six-year olds but may need fewer calories. Offer them smaller amounts.
  • A good estimate of a serving for a two to three-year old child is about ⅔ of what counts as a regular Food Guide Pyramid serving. See the regular serving size food list starting on page seven.
  • Two to six-year old children need a total of two servings from the milk group each day.
  • Younger children often eat small portions. Offering smaller servings and allowing them to ask for more, satisfies their hunger and does not waste food.
  • By the time children are four years old, they can eat amounts that count as regular Food Guide Pyramid servings eaten by older family members - that is, ½ cup fruit cup fruit or vegetable, ¾ cup of juice, one slice of bread, two to three ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish.
  • Offer new foods in small "try me" portions - perhaps one or two tablespoons - let your children ask for more.
  • Remember, variety is key for the whole food family. Offer a variety of foods from the five major food groups, and let your children decide how much to eat.