Healthy eating

Toddlers need a healthy, balanced diet to support growth and development in the early years. Healthy Eating habits are important lessons to teach your child, as there is a clear link between what children eat and their performance and behaviour at school.1 Making the right food choices during the early years will make them more likely to adopt a healthy lifestyle as they get older.2

Your child should therefore eat a wide variety of different coloured foods as they provide a range of vitamins and minerals to help support their continued growth and development.

There are no ‘bad’ foods, but there are foods everyone should eat in moderation such as those which are high in energy and low in important vitamins and minerals.

Here are some simple steps to help your toddler eat healthily:

  • Offer your toddler three meals and between two to three snacks every day
  • Offer your toddler foods from each of the five food groups every day. The five food groups are: fruit and vegetables, starchy foods, milk and dairy, proteins and fats and/or sugars3
    • Foods from the fifth group includes chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks, sweets, cakes and biscuits and should be consumed in moderation
  • Toddler food portions need to be age-appropriate. As a guide, a serving should be the size of the palm of your toddler’s hand
  • Salt should be kept to a minimum - not relying too much on pre-prepared foods can help to achieve this
  • Consider giving your child a vitamin A and D supplement every day, making sure the amount you give them is appropriate for their age. Some families could be eligible to receive free vitamin supplements for children under four years of age through the Healthy Start Government scheme
  • Offer your toddler up to eight drinks a day - water is a great option
  • Aim for relaxed and happy mealtimes and don’t force feed your toddler
  • Try to eat together as a family

In this section find out about:


  1. Children’s Food Trust, 2013: Accessed 12th November 2013.
  2. British Nutrition Foundation, 2004: Accessed 28th October 2013.
  3. NHS, 2013: Accessed 21st October 2013.

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RXANI130244 Date of preparation: February 2014