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Toddler Food Groups

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Toddler Food Groups

Setting Up a Healthy Balance

Variety in a toddler’s diet is essential for healthy growth and development. Offering your child a variety of foods throughout the day will provide them with the energy and nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals) they need.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends foods should be given from each of the 5 food groups – bread and cereals, fruit, vegetables, dairy foods and meat and alternatives.

These foods have been grouped together based on their similarity in nutrients. Below is a guide for the number of serves and serving sizes for toddlers. Remember it is just a GUIDE as every child is unique, with different metabolisms and energy levels.

Food Group 1 – Breads and Cereals

This group comes from sources such as wheat, oats, rice, rye, barley, millet and corn.

What nutrients do these foods provide?

  • Carbohydrates
  • B vitamins
  • Protein
  • Iron
  • Fibre.

Recommended serves per day: 4

Example of a serve:

  • 1 slice bread
  • ½ bread roll
  • 2-4 savoury crackers
  • 2/3 cup cereal flakes
  • ½ cup porridge
  • 1 cereal biscuit
  • ½ cup pasta/rice/noodles.

Food Group 2 – Fruit

Fruits are the sweet edible flesh of a plant and it usually contains seeds.

What nutrients do these foods provide?

  • Vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, folate and vitamin E
  • Minerals, such as potassium and magnesium
  • Fibre.

Recommended serves per day: 2

Example of serve:

  • ½ medium fruit (pear/apple)
  • 1 small piece (apricot/plum)
  • ¼ cup juice (diluted)
  • ½ cup canned fruit
  • 1 tbsp sultanas/dried fruit.

Food Group 3 – Vegetables

There are many types of vegetables and these come from many different parts of plants, such as the roots, stems, leaves, seeds, tubers and shoots.

What nutrients do these foods provide?

  • Vitamins, such as vitamin C and folate
  • Minerals, such as magnesium
  • Fibre.

Recommended serves per day: 5

Example of serve:

  • ¼ cup cooked vegetables
  • ½ potato/carrot
  • ¼ cup legumes
  • ½ cup salad vegetables.

Food Group 4 – Dairy

This group includes milk, cheese and yogurt.

Reduced fat milk should only be given to your child AFTER two years of age. Before that, they need the extra energy for their growth.

What nutrients do these foods provide?

  • Vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12
  • Minerals, including calcium, zinc and iodine
  • Protein.

Recommended serves per day: 1½

Examples of a serve:

  • 250mL milk
  • 200g yoghurt
  • 250mL custard
  • 40g cheese (2 slices).

Food Group 5 – Meats and Alternatives

This includes lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, tofu, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.

What nutrients do these foods provide?

  • Protein
  • Minerals, including iron, zinc and iodine
  • Vitamins, such as vitamin B12
  • Essential fatty acids.

Recommended serves per day: 2

Examples of a serve:

  • 30g cooked meat/chicken
  • 1 slice roast meat
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup baked beans/legumes
  • 60g cooked fish fillet.

Other considerations:

Fats & Oils

Fats are essential for good health and are important to include in your toddler’s diet. Unsaturated fats are healthy fats to choose and can be found in foods including oily fish, avocado, nuts, seeds and oils, such as olive oil.

Recommended serves per day: 2

Serving size: 2tsp

Extra Foods

Extra foods include cakes, crisp, pies, sausage rolls pastries and biscuits. These foods are nutrient-poor and contain high levels of saturated fat, sugar and salt. These should be chosen only in small amounts.

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