The Right Toddler Portion Sizes: An Easy Guide for Parents

    The Right Toddler Portion Sizes: An Easy Guide for Parents

    One of the most confusing parts of making a healthy and balanced diet plan for toddlers is portion control. Often, it’s either our children eat too little or consume too much. Is there an easy way around it? Here’s what you need to know about the right toddler portion sizes.

    Why is portion control important?

    At a glance, portion control may seem trivial, but it’s an important aspect of nutrition according to experts.

    To see the importance of food portion control, think of our bodies as engines that need fuel to function effectively and stay healthy. However, we don’t need just one kind of fuel; in fact, we need various fuel types in the form of different nutrients.

    For example, we need carbohydrates for fiber and energy, protein for tissue repair, and vitamins and minerals for immunity.

    If we lack particular nutrients, we might develop nutritional deficiencies that will negatively affect our health. Likewise, having too much of a specific nutrient is also not healthy. Case in point, too much carbohydrates may result in diabetes or obesity over time.

    the right toddler portion sizes

    This is why the right portion sizes are necessary, especially for a toddler who’s just starting to discover new foods and understand their appetite. As parents, we have to make sure that they are getting all the fuel types they need to stay healthy.

    Where to get the fuel: The food groups

    Before discussing the serving sizes for 3 to 5-year-olds, let’s first discuss the different food groups where your toddler can get various nutrients. The list below enumerates the essential food groups and recommended servings for toddlers:

    • 5 servings of vegetables and fruits, or 2 to 3 servings of fruits, and 2 to 3 servings of vegetables
    • 5 to 6 servings of grains
    • 3 servings of dairy
    • 2 servings of protein foods
    • 3 to 4 servings of healthy fats

    The right portion sizes for your toddler

    Are you wondering how much of a specific food is equivalent to 1 serving? Here’s a quick guide for you:


    One serving is generally equal to ¼ to 1/3 cup of fresh or canned fruits. Other examples include:

    • ¼ to ½ medium apple
    • ¼ to 1 medium banana
    • ½ medium mango
    • ½ medium orange
    • 3 to 8 pieces of grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries (don’t forget to slice them into smaller pieces)
    • 100% fresh fruit juice (limit to 4 or 118 ml ounces daily)


    One serving is generally equivalent to ¼ to 1/3 cup of cooked vegetables. Other examples include:

    • ½ to 2 tbsp. of cooked broccoli
    • ½ to 2 tbsp. of cooked cauliflower
    • 2 to 6 pieces of carrot sticks
    • ½ to 2 tbsp. of cooked spinach
    • 2 to 4 tbsp. of canned fruit (choose unsweetened)
    • ½ to 2 tbsp. of roasted veggies
    • 1 to 3 pieces of button mushrooms
    • ½ to 2 tbsp. of sweetcorn


    One serving is generally equivalent to ¼ to 1/3 cup of cooked rice or pasta.

    • ½ to 1 slice of bread
    • 2 to 4 pieces of potato wedges
    • 3 to 5 tbsp. of cereals


    One serving is generally equivalent to ½ cup of milk. Other examples include:

    • 1/3 cup of yogurt
    • 2 to 3 tbsp. of grated cheese

    Protein foods

    One serving is generally equal to 1 to 2 ounces (28 to 56 grams) of lean meat, fish, and chicken. Other examples include:

    • 1/2 to 1 slice of cooked beef, pork, and chicken
    • ¼ to 1 fish fillet
    • ½ to 2 tbsp. prawns
    • 1 to 2 pieces of fish fingers
    • 2 to 3 tbsp. of scrambled eggs
    • 1 to 2 tbsp. of chopped nuts
    • ½ to 1 boiled or fried egg

    Healthy fats

    Healthy fats are incorporated into your toddler’s diet. Experts say that a serving is generally equivalent to 1 teaspoon of oil, butter, or margarine. Of course, there are other healthy sources of fat, too, such as avocado and nuts.


    Don’t forget that you always talk to a doctor about your child’s diet and nutrition. A pediatrician may be able to come up with an individualized meal plan for your toddler.

    Learn more about Toddler Nutrition here.

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

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated 2 weeks ago