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3 Tips to Build a Healthy and Balanced Meal Plan for Toddlers

3 Tips to Build a Healthy and Balanced Meal Plan for Toddlers

Toddlerhood and the “terrible twos.” At this age, most parents can now take a break from late-night feedings and breastmilk pumping. However, they face a new challenge: coming up with a healthy and balanced meal plan for their toddlers. Is this something you can relate to? Here’s a quick guide you can follow.

The Right Toddler Portion Sizes: An Easy Guide for Parents

Tip 1: Remember that variety is key

Many experts agree that parents shouldn’t fixate on the amount of food their toddler eats. However, they emphasize that offering variety is crucial.

Including food items from different groups ensures that your little one is getting the nutrients they need. So, whenever you prepare their meals and snacks, it must include foods from the following groups:

healthy balanced meal plan for toddlers


A healthy and balanced meal plan for toddlers will not be complete without 2 to 3 servings of fruits daily.

Fruits give your child vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients (nutrients from plants) that keep their immune system strong and their body healthy. To ensure variety, consider the following fruits:

  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Mango
  • Watermelon
  • Papaya
  • Orange

Experts say that you can serve fruits dried, fresh, pureed, or canned. 100% fruit juices also count, but toddlers should not consume more than 4 ounces (118 ml) of fruit juice daily. In buying fruit juices, be cautious of brands with a lot of added sugars.


Like fruits, toddlers typically need 2 to 3 servings of vegetables daily. Experts say that a variety of colorful veggies should dominate your little one’s mealtimes, including their snacks. Vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals that keep them healthy.

According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), the following are the best veggies for babies:

  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Kamote tops (talbos ng kamote)
  • Kangkong
  • Pechay
  • Malunggay

You can include these veggies as ingredients in meals or serve them separately, provided that they are soft and preferably chopped or sliced into small pieces.

6 Healthy Superfoods for Toddlers

Protein sources

A healthy and balanced meal plan for toddlers also includes good protein sources. The FNRI recommends the following:

  • Fish
  • Lean meat
  • Poultry
  • Legumes and beans (such as monggo)
  • Eggs

Fish, meat, and poultry also give your toddler vitamins and minerals, including iron and zinc. Be sure to cook them well and chop them into smaller pieces before serving; limit processed meats with lots of added salt.

Toddlers need about 2 servings of meat per day. They also need two servings of legumes and beans daily.


Grains, such as biscuits, cereals, pasta, rice, and bread, are good carbohydrate and fiber sources. However, select the whole grain variety and limit the refined brands, as they might have a lot of added salt and sugar. Generally, toddlers need 6 servings of grains per day.


Dairy is still a crucial part of a healthy and balanced meal plan for toddlers. If your doctor has recommended formula milk for them, go for that brand. Furthermore, don’t forget the other sources of calcium, such as cheese and yogurt. Toddlers need 2 to 3 servings of dairy per day.

Healthy fats

To complete the healthy and balanced meal plan for toddlers, you need to incorporate unsaturated fats into their diet by adding healthy foods, such as nuts and avocados. Moreover, be mindful of the cooking oil you’re using.

Tip 2: Choose their drinks wisely

Please note that while 100% fruit juices count as fruit servings, nutritionists still emphasize that water is the best drink for toddlers, along with doctor-recommended milk.

Avoid giving them sweetened drinks like artificial fruit juices and even flavored milk. They will also not benefit from the energy and sports drinks.

Tip 3: Be careful with certain foods

Now that we have covered the foods included in a healthy and balanced meal plan for toddlers, let’s talk about the foods you must avoid since they increase the risk of choking:

  • A whole piece of hotdog (it might slide easily in their throat but can cause choking)
  • Large chunks of meat; they may be hard to chew, so toddlers are tempted to swallow them whole.
  • Round fruits, like cherries, grapes (slice them first)
  • Round, hard candies
  • Marshmallows
  • Raw carrots or any vegetables that are hard to chew
  • Popcorn
  • Gum

And finally, be mindful of their allergies or food sensitivities. To formulate the best meal plan for your toddler, you may also consult their pediatrician for further advice.

Learn more about Toddler Nutrition here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Healthy food for babies and toddlers: the five food groups
Accessed January 22, 2021

Feeding Your Toddler – Ages 1 to 3 Years
Accessed January 22, 2021

Nutrition: Toddler
Accessed January 22, 2021

5 Food Groups
Accessed January 22, 2021

Dietary guidelines in pictures: children 1-2 years
Accessed January 22, 2021

Dietary guidelines in pictures: children 2-3 years
Accessed January 22, 2021

Feeding & Nutrition Tips: Your 2-Year-Old
Accessed January 22, 2021

10 Best Foods for Babies
Accessed January 22, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated May 03
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel