Toddler Articles

What’s the Right Serving Size For My Toddler?

 

A healthy toddler needs to consume the same variety of nutrient dense foods as grown ups, just in smaller, sized portions. However, today’s supersized portions can make it tricky for caregivers to know how much really is “just right” for their little one.

 

Most toddlers need between 1,000-2,000 calories per day to thrive. To help ensure your child gets the right amount for fueling busy lives and nourishing a strong body and brain, here are some common size-wise serving recommendations from the USDA from each food group. As a general rule, an appropriate serving size for most 2 to 3 year olds is about half the size of an adult serving. For more specific info, check out www.myplate.gov for complete nutrient intake guidelines, calorie needs by age and recommended serving sizes from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

 

How Much is A Child’s Serving Size?

 

Grain Group: Six Servings (NOTE: THIS IS FOR 1-3 Year Old)
One Serving: 1 to 3-year-old: 3 to 6-year-old:
Bread 1/4 to 1/2 slice 1/2 slice
Muffin 1/4 to 1/3 muffin 1/3 to 1/2 muffin
Crackers 2 saltine size 2 to 4
Hot Cereal 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Cold Cereal (Dry) 1/4 cup 1/3 cup
Cooked Pasta or Grains 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup 1/4 to 1/2 cup

 

Vegetable Group: Three Servings (NOTE: THIS IS FOR 1-3 Year Old)
One Serving: 1 to 3-year-old: 3 to 6-year-old:
Cooked 1 to 3 tbsp 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Raw Chopped 1 to 3 tbsp 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Leafy Greens 1/4 to 1/2 cup 1/4 to 1/2 cup

 

Fruit Group: Two Servings (NOTE: THIS IS FOR 1-3 Year Old)
One Serving: 1 to 3-year-old: 3 to 6-year-old:
Canned or Pureed 1 to 3 tbsp 1/2 cup total
Fresh 1/4 cup total 1/4 cup to 1 whole
Dried 1 tbsp 1/4 cup total
100% Juice 1/4 cup (2 oz) 1/2 cup (4oz)

 

Dairy Group: Two Servings (NOTE: THIS IS FOR 1-3 Year Old)
One Serving: 1 to 3-year-old: 3 to 6-year-old:
Milk or Milk Substitute 1/2 cup (4 oz) 3/4 cup (6 oz)
Cheese 1 ounce up to 2 ounces
Yogurt 1/2 cup 3/4 cup
Cottage Cheese 1/4 to 1/2 cup 1/2 cup

 

Meat, Fish, Poultry, Dry Beans, Eggs & Nut Group: Two Servings (NOTE: THIS IS FOR 1-3 Year Old)
One Serving: 1 to 3-year-old: 3 to 6-year-old:
Cooled, Lean Meat, Fish or Poultry 1 ounce 1 to 1 1/2 ounces
Nut or seed butter 2 tbsp 2 to 3 tbsp
Egg 1 egg 1 egg
Hot Cereal 2 saltine size 2 to 4
Nut, Seeds, Soy Beans 1/2 ounce 3/4 ounce
Cottage Cheese 1 ounce 1 to 1 1/2 ounces
Dry Beans 1/4 cup 1/3 cup

 

Fats and Sweets: Three Servings (NOTE: THIS IS FOR 1-3 Year Old)
One Serving: 1 to 3-year-old: 3 to 6-year-old:
Butter or olive oil 1 tsp 2-3 tsp
Salad Dressing 2 to 3 tsps 1 tbsp
Added Sugars such as refined sugar, Honey, maple syrup, agave, Jam, etc. use sparingly use sparingly

 

Sizing up A Serving: Helpful Tricks

Sometimes the best way to understand what they really mean by a serving size is to visualize some common items that are of a similar size. For instance, these servings are roughly equivalent to the following:

  • A standard muffin = a tennis ball
  • One ounce of cheese =a pair of dice
  • One ounce of meat =the size of your ring and little finger
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter = a ping-pong ball
  • One quarter cup fruit, vegetables, yogurt= a medium egg

 

In this way, you can help your little one build the foundation of lifelong healthy eating habits, and have the confidence of knowing you’re offering your toddler the right amounts to let them shine.