Food, glorious food

Eat well as a family and your toddler will soon learn to take pleasure in food and mealtimes.

Food and eating can be really enjoyable for your toddler, especially if you set a good example as a family by all eating in the same way, and trying to eat together. This may mean you need to take a look at what you’re eating too!

How much is enough?

The amount your little one eats depends on their size and how much they run about. Toddlers grow more slowly than babies, but they still have growth spurts – often around the time they start to walk or after they’ve had to fend off an illness. Toddlers can eat everything in sight one day and pick like a bird the next. Provided they’re growing at a healthy rate, there’s no need to worry. The same applies if they seem to live on just a few foods; keep offering new foods and try to encourage but not force them to try. As long as a range of healthy choices are on offer, most kids seem to balance their food intake over time.

Little and often

Most kids like to eat little and often. That’s because they have tiny stomachs so it’s easier for them to cope with three small meals and two to three small snacks rather than three big meals. It’s important that they don’t feel overwhelmed and that you spot when they’re full. As long as you’re not filling them up with sweets or drinks between meals, you’ll soon get to know their eating pattern.

On the Grid

Your child needs foods from five main groups every day to maintain a healthy diet, and here’s how to ensure they get them. There’s plenty of choices – even for the fussiest tots!

Pasteurised full-fat milk and dairy food

Milk, cheese, yoghurt, fromage frais, milk puddings, tahini and calcium-enriched milk alternatives are needed for strong bones and teeth.

Servings per day


Meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts and other non-dairy sources of protein

Lean meat, white fish, oily fish, chicken, eggs, nuts (particularly peanuts) and pulses (beans, peas, lentils), Quorn™ and tofu are needed for growth and repair.

Servings per day

(2-3 portions if vegetarian sources).

Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta

Rice, bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, potatoes, sweet potatoes are needed for energy and a healthy digestive system.

Servings per day

4 (ideally including some wholemeal and wholegrain varieties)

Fruit and vegetables

Apples, pears, satsumas, grapes cut lengthwise, melon, plums, mangoes, bananas, tomatoes, carrots, courgettes, mushrooms are needed for general health and healthy immune and digestive systems.

Servings per day

Aim for 5 a day, of which 2 should be veg – fresh, frozen, canned and dried all count.

Oils and spreads

Use vegetable oils such as olive or sunflower oil for cooking, and vegetable margarine (e.g. sunflower) on bread or toast fingers. This is needed for energy, absorption of vitamins A, D and E.

Servings per day

Babies up to age 2 need high-energy foods for brain development, so more fat is needed in their diets. After that they can gradually move to a lower-fat diet, the same as the rest of the family as recommended in the Scottish Government's Eatwell Guide.

Last updated: 15 April 2019