Children have smaller stomach than adults therefore they need to eat smaller portions of food more often. Their tummies are only the size of their own closed fist!

  • Most children know when they are full, so encourage them to eat to their appetite but do not force or expect them to eat if they are not hungry.
  • Every child is different and allowing them to eat to satisfaction is an important part of their learning.
  • Some children are slow eaters so allow plenty of time for them to eat. A lot of new skills are being learned at children meal times so it can take time.
  • Try not to offer drinks 30 minutes before a meal and limit drinks at meal times to half a beaker.
  • Children sometimes get thirst and hunger mixed up. They might say they’re thirsty when really they’re hungry. Be careful not to allow your child to fill up on too many drinks.

A guide to portion sizes for children (from 3 to 6 years old)


Each serving contains:

Milk: 1/2 to 3/4 cup

Cheese: (Choose 1)

  • 2 to 3 dice-sized cheese cubes
  • 1/2 to 1 slice packaged cheese

Yogurt: 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup (4 to 6 oz)


Each serving contains:

Meat, Fish, Poultry, or Meat Substitute: 1 oz (about the 1/3 to 1/2 the size of an adult’s palm)

Egg: 1 egg

Beans or Peas: 4 Tbsp (about the size of your child’s fist)

Nuts (includes peanut butter): 2 Tbsp


Each serving contains:

Vegetables: 3 to 4 Tbsp (about the size of your child’s fist)

Starchy Vegetables (like white potatoes)

Limit to 1 to 2 servings a day: 3 to 4 Tbsp (about the size of your child’s fist)




Each serving contains:

Fruit: (Choose 1)

  • 1/2 to 1 small raw fruit
  • Canned 4 to 6 Tbsp (about the size of your child’s fist)

Opt for fruit packed in water, juice, or light syrup instead of heavy syrup.

Fruit Juice: 4 to 6 oz total per day




Each serving contains:

Bread: Choose 1:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/2 English muffin
  • 1/2 Bagel
  • 1/2 to 1 Tortilla

Cooked cereal: 1/2 cup

Cold, Dry cereal: 1 cup

Pasta, noodles, rice or grains: 1/2 cup




Each serving contains:

Biscuits: 1 big or 2 small

Jam, Honey or Sugar: 1 tsp

Chocolate: 1 small fun-sized bar

Butter, Oil or Mayonnaise: 1 tsp

Cake: 1 small slice



How many snacks and meals does my child need daily?

  • Children should be offered three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and two to three planned snacks a day.
  • Try to allow about 1 to 2 hours without snacks before a main meal as filling up on snacks will reduce your child’s appetite and make it difficult for them to eat their main meal.
  • If your child rejects a food or meal, don’t force them to eat it. Just take the food away without comment, don’t panic and offer food at the next scheduled snack time. Try to stay calm even if it’s very frustrating.