Diet Plan For Toddlers


Diet plan for toddlers: A balanced, nutritionist-approved meal plan that will help eliminate eating issues and regulate your child’s appetite. Many parents are surprised to find out that they can encourage healthy eating while also avoiding imposing strict diet rules on their children.

Diet is of the utmost importance for toddlers because it helps to determine their health when they grow up. A diet that is rich in vitamins, proteins and balanced minerals ensures healthy growth and development. In this article we have given a diet plan for toddlers that will help you keep your toddler healthy

What’s a balanced diet for toddlers?

For adults there are clear guidelines on what makes a balanced diet defined by the NHS Eatwell Guide.

How to make fudge

However, while it’s sensible to include some of the principles of healthy eating for your toddler, it’s also important to make sure they get all of the nutrients they need in manageable packages – so, that means not having too many bulky, high-fibre foods, while including good-quality protein and healthy fats.

How much should my toddler eat?

As a guide, toddlers need three meals and two to three snacks, as well as six to eight drinks, each day. Children are good at judging their own appetite; some days they won’t eat much and other days they’ll catch up. As their tummies are small, make sure you give ‘me-sized’ portions – this generally means a portion about the size of their cupped hand. Offering two courses at lunch and dinner can be a useful way of getting variety in, but don’t insist on a clean plate every time.

These mini egg & veg muffins make a great snack or a hand-held lunch. They’re a good source of protein from the eggs plus fibre and other nutrients from the courgette, carrots and peas.

You may also be interested in our guide to children’s appetite and advice for grown-ups on how to eat a balanced diet.

What do healthy meals for toddlers look like?

Toddler recipe: Microwave courgette and pea risotto with prawns

A healthy, balanced diet is made up of foods from all of the main food groups. This doesn’t have to be achieved at every meal, but it’s good to include something from each group at breakfast, lunch and dinner, with others delivered in snack form. The main food groups are:

Grains and other starchy carbohydrates

Include at least five toddler-sized portions per day such as bread, rice, pasta, cereals and potatoes. These provide energy as well as the B group of vitamins. Higher fibre starchy foods, like wholegrain cereals and brown rice, also provide extra nutrients, but these should be introduced gradually because they can make the diet bulky.

Try this healthy recipe for microwave courgette and pea risotto with prawns as a good source of starch.

Fruits and vegetables

Include around five hand-sized portions of fruit and veg a day. Fresh, dried, frozen, canned or in juice form (but do limit juices to one per day as they’re sugary) all count – aim to include as many different colours as possible to ensure a variety. Eating a ‘rainbow’, for example these frozen fruity skewers provide a great source of micronutrients including vitamin C and make a colourful and enticing snack or dessert.

Familiarity plays an important role in developing food preferences, so having a bowl of colourful fruit and vegetables on show may encourage your little one to give new fruits or veg a go.

Frozen fruit sticks with passion fruit & lime drizzle

Milk and dairy foods

Three servings per day of dairy foods such as cheese, yogurt and milk would be ideal. Full-fat varieties are best for toddlers, but from the age of two onwards, semi-skimmed milk may be introduced as long as their diet is varied and they eat well. Children from the age of one can drink unsweetened, calcium-fortified plant ‘milks.’ However, babies and young children under five should not be given rice drinks because of levels of arsenic in these products.

Meat, fish, beans and pulses and other protein foods

Include about two portions of protein per day – this includes meat, fish, eggs, nuts or pulses (e.g. beans and lentils, or foods made from pulses like tofu, dhal and soya chunks/mince). These foods provide protein as well as micronutrients including minerals like zinc and iron. It’s useful to include oily fish (e.g. salmon, sardines and mackerel) once or twice a week.

Toddler recipe: Batch-cook mini pork & veg balls

What should my toddler drink?

Maintaining good levels of hydration is important especially in hot weather and when very active. Six to eight drinks per day (approximately 1 litre) is about the right amount. It’s best to give water as their main drink and one or two cups of milk. Squash, juice and pop are all acidic and can cause tooth decay, so find out more about how to protect your children’s teeth. Toddlers should be consuming drinks (including milk) from a cup, or free-flowing beaker, not from a bottle.

Should I supplement my toddler’s diet?

Don’t forget that, to boost their diet, vitamin drops are recommended for children under five. Some people can get Healthy Start vitamins free from their health visitor, but all toddlers should take vitamin D (plus vitamins A, C and E).

How can I avoid fussy eating?

Breast milk is slightly sweet tasting so it’s natural that babies and toddlers show a preference for sweeter foods. That said, other tastes can be learned through exposure and repetition. Don’t give up because sometimes it can take 10-15 attempts for a food to be accepted! If your toddler is fond of saying ‘no’, just try again another day and don’t forget to set a good example by eating the food yourself.


No matter what meals or recipes you choose for your toddler meal plan, you should make every attempt to include a variety of the below.


  • Milk and dairy products
  • Legumes
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds


  • Plant-based oils
  • Butter
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Avocado


  • Fruit
  • Vegetables


  • Wholegrain wheat products (pasta, bread, toast, tortillas)
  • Wholegrain rice
  • Grains (rye, barley, buckwheat, millet, oat, quinoa)


Once your baby hits the 12-month mark, we usually propose 3 main meals and 2 small snacks. And this is actually the number of meals that can be served for adults as well.

There can be differences however in the schedule of main meals and snacks.

Some toddlers will love a “normal” breakfast-snack-lunch-snack-dinner schedule while others will do better with a breakfast-lunch-snack-dinner-snack.

So adjust as you feel works best for your child’s (and your own) meals.


Unfortunately, there isn’t one that can be generalized for all toddlers.

And not only because every toddler is unique, but because their hunger and satiety feelings change daily. So one day they might require food every hour and the other they might not want to eat for hours and hours.

But for both cases, my recommendation is the same. Once you have established a routine for the order of your meals, aim to serve at the same time each day.

Toddlers love predictability. And even though they sometimes might not touch the food, keep on serving per schedule. It’s your job to choose when and what to serve. It’s theirs to choose whether to eat and how much.

If you need some help to start, check out our baby and toddler feeding schedules where you can see at what times we serve our kids their meals.

Also, multiple times a week we share on our Instagram stories what we feed our kids each day so you can follow us there for more ideas.


  • Breakfast: Overnight Oats Chia Pudding
  • Morning Snack: Banana Chia Pancake with Peanut Butter and Blueberries
  • Lunch: Baked Beef
  • Afternoon snack: ½ cup yogurt
  • Dinner: Quinoa Tomato Risotto
Overnight Chia Pudding 14 toddler meal plan
banana chia pancakes
Baked Beef
QUINOA TOMATO RISOTTO toddler meal plan


  • Breakfast: Chocolate Nutmeg Oatmeal
  • Morning Snack: 1 ½ wholegrain cracker, 1 tsp almond butter, ½ cup cottage cheese
  • Lunch: Broccoli Pea Gnocchi
  • Afternoon snack: Yogurt Berry Healthy Kids Snack
  • Dinner: Roasted Turkey Sweet Potato Peas
chocolate nutmeg oatmeal
Baby led weaning foods
Yoghurt Berry Snack 7 toddler meal plan
Roasted Peas Turkey Sweet Potato 22


  • Breakfast: Quinoa Pudding
  • Morning Snack: ⅓ Snickers Smoothie
  • Lunch: Your Baby’s Cheesy Delicious FIRST Omelette
  • Afternoon snack: ½ cup whole milk, ½ banana
  • Dinner: Salmon Spinach Pasta
Snickers Smoothie - toddler snack
Mozarella Spinach Omelette 24
Salmon Spinach Pasta 18


If you’re still not confident you can put your own plan together to meet all your child’s nutritional requirements, then I am here to reassure you.

It can be pretty easy to learn how to mix’n’match different foods to ensure enough of those essential nutrients and enough calories are served to your toddler.

All it takes is a little tiny bit of math. Simple math I promise. 😀

All you have to do is add up the servings you are offering to your child until they reach the daily amounts they need.


  • Grains: 3 daily servings
  • Fruit: 1 daily serving
  • Vegetables: 1 daily serving
  • Protein: 2 daily servings
  • Dairy: 2 daily servings
  • Fats and oils: 3 – 4 teaspoons

Take a look here to see what a serving size for each food group means.

Don’t worry if one day you have 2 fruit servings and the other day ½. Nutrition is all about balance and you’d want to keep it between -1 and +1 for each food group.

How Do I Know If My Toddler Is Eating Enough?

If your toddler is healthy and is energetic, is meeting milestones and is gaining weight, you can trust them to eat as much as they need for their hunger assuming there are no medical issues at play. (If there are medical concerns, always check in with your pediatrician.)

To help them do this, try to:

  1. Limit distractions at the table, turning off screens so they can focus on their food.
  2. Sit with them while they eat so they start to learn table manners and can mimic what they see you doing.
  3. Don’t pressure them to eat more than they seem to want.
  4. Read up on the Division of Responsibility in Feeding to avoid power struggles.
  5. Set meal times and decide what to feed at each meal.
  6. Let the kids decide what of the food to eat and how much.
  7. Aim to serve a variety of healthy foods throughout the week.
  8. Remember that just because a toddler refuses a food doesn’t mean that they don’t like it.
  9. Keep foods you want them to eat in regular rotation so they’re familiar.
  10. Serve small portions to avoid overwhelming the kids.
  11. Be patient, they’re still learning!
  12. Remember that appetites naturally fluctuate and that is not a cause for concern.

There’s No Such Thing As a Perfect Toddler Diet

And most of all, take images of meals that other kids are eating with a grain of salt. No two kids are the same, no two families are the same. There is not one perfect way to feed a toddler, but I hope that seeing some examples do help!

Sample Meal Plan for Feeding Your Toddler (Ages 1 to 3)

happy toddler girl eating a meal

What Should I Feed My Toddler?

Toddlers aged 1 to 3 are able to eat a variety of healthy foods. Offer your toddler the same foods that the rest of the family eats. Offer foods with different tastes, textures and colours according to Canada’s Food Guide.

How Much Should My Toddler Eat?

Let your toddler decide how much to eat from the foods you offer. Do not force your toddler to eat or restrict the amount of food you allow them to eat.  Some days they might eat more. Some days they might eat less. A toddler’s appetite can change from day to day. Use the sample meals below as general guidelines only. Start with small serving sizes and give more if your toddler is still hungry.

Sample Meals for Feeding Toddlers (1 to 3 years old)

Sample Menu 1

BreakfastMini oatmeal pancakes with sliced bananas and nut butter
Breastmilk or milk in a cup
Morning SnackRipe melon pieces
Plain, vanilla or fruit yogurt
LunchMeatballs (cut into small pieces)
Plain macaroni or penne pasta
Cooked sweet potato
Breastmilk or milk in a cup
Afternoon Snack100% whole wheat unsalted crackers
Cheese cubes
DinnerBaked risotto with salmon
Carrots and parsnips
Breastmilk or water
Bedtime SnackFruity Tutti muffins with applesauce
Breastmilk or milk in a cup

Sample Menu 2

BreakfastMini mushroom omelette
Berries with plain yogurt
Breastmilk or milk in a cup
Morning SnackApple slices with nut butter
Cheese cubes
LunchTofu Vegetable Soup
Potato patties
Ripe pear slices
Breastmilk or milk in a cup
Afternoon SnackHummus with 100% whole wheat pita
Cherry tomatoes (cut into quarters)
DinnerTurkey or vegetarian chili
100% whole grain bun or roll
Bedtime SnackBanana yogurt wrap
Breastmilk or milk in a cup

Tips For Feeding Your Toddler (1 to 3 years)

  • Continue to breastfeed your toddler until the age of two and beyond.
  • If your toddler uses a bottle, wean them to a regular cup. Bottles also make it easy for your toddler to drink too much. This may leave less room for other healthy foods.
  • Serve full fat milk (3.25%) milk until age two. You can offer cow’s milk in an open cup. After age two, you can switch to skim, 1% or 2% milk or fortified, unflavoured soy beverage.
  • Fortified soy, rice, almond or coconut beverages do not contain the same amount of nutrients as cow’s milk. Do not use them instead of breastmilk or cow’s milk before 2 years of age.
  • Offer water between meals. Sipping on milk or juice between meals can decrease appetite. If you give your toddler juice, offer 100% fruit juice and limit it to 125-175 mL (4-6 oz) a day.
  • Offer meals and snacks at the same time each day. Offer a variety of familiar foods as well new foods at each meal.
  • Let your toddler decide what and how much to eat when introducing solid foods. It is normal for toddlers to refuse to eat new foods, change their minds about foods they ate before, or want the same food every day.
  • Eat meals and snacks prepared at home more often. Prepare healthy homemade recipes such as cheesy chicken crunchie quesadillas, mini pizza sandwiches, hummus and pita and mac and “squeese”
  • Always supervise your toddler while eating. Cut foods into bite size pieces to avoid choking

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