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By 12 months your baby should be eating around three small meals a day plus breast milk. At the age of 2-3 years  children should be eating:

  • 2½ serves of vegetables
  • 1 serve of fruit
  • 4 serves of grains
  • 1 serve of lean meat or other protein
  • 1½ serves of milk or other dairy products

Your child may need more or less serves depending on their gender, height, weight and how active they are. You may notice that your child’s appetite changes from day to day. This is normal as they grow at different rates. If your child doesn’t want to eat, don’t force them or offer rewards of unhealthy food. Forcing a child to eat teaches them not to listen to their natural hunger cues. 

Foods high in saturated fats, added salt and sugars should not be eaten regularly as they will replace foods with essential nutrients. These discretionary or sometimes foods such as chocolate, chips and takeaway foods should be limited to small amounts and only occasionally.

Foods such as whole nuts, seeds, raw carrot, celery sticks and chunks of apple should be avoided for the first 3 years as they can increase the risk of choking.

Tips for the whole family

To help your family establish healthy eating patterns:

  • Make meal times happy, fun occasions
  • Eat with the family at the dinner table
  • Avoid keeping junk food in the house
  • Make water the drink of choice for the whole family
  • Keep fruit in the house as a snack
  • Make healthy food fun by cutting it into interesting shapes
  • Encourage children to help with shopping and food preparation
  • Turn off TV and computers at meal times

Small changes can make a big difference for the whole family.

For more information see the Australian Guide to Health Eating for Children.

[Source NHMRC Eat for Health; Pregnancy Birth and Baby; Raising Children Network]