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Portion Sizes

Portion Sizes
Jodi Harris

Portion Sizes – @my.little.food.critic

When it comes to portion sizes, it’s not an exact science! The most important thing to remember is that every single baby, toddler and child are different, and they will all have varying appetites – just like us!

Babies have the incredible ability to self-regulate how much food their bodies need and it’s so important to take their lead as to when they show signs of fullness.

For example:

  • Keeping their mouth shut or refusing to open their mouth for another bite
  • Pushing food away
  • Turning their head away
  • Playing with food once they are full

Secondly, their appetites will vary from day to day and even meal to meal. So many things can impact how hungry they are – teething, being unwell, being too excited to eat, feeling too hot or too cold etc.

In fact, there are no official baby food guidelines on weaning portion sizes and the reason is because they are all so different! Some take to weaning very quickly and others are a little more apprehensive.

For toddlers, portion sizes can be a great starting point to put together well-balanced meals and ensure you’re offering a variety of foods to meet your little ones nutritional needs, at regular intervals. It’s so important not to put pressure on them to eat but instead let them decide how much they want. We’ll delve further into toddler portion sizes below.

It’s important to note here that you should seek medical advice if your little ones growth starts to move downwards from their centile chart or if you are concerned in any way.

(Image taken from https://www.nutrition.org.uk/attachments/article/1253/BNF%205532%20Poster%202019.pdf)

Starchy Foods

5 portions per day

Starchy foods provide energy and can be an important source of fibre, B vitamins and calcium. They are also essential for children as they contain carbohydrates which are essential for the brain.

Example portion sizes:

½ slice – 1 slice of bread

1 – 3 tbsp mashed or steamed  potatoes

2 – 5 tbsp cooked pasta

2 – 5 tbsp cooked rice

Fruits & Vegetables

5+ portions per day

Fruits and veggies provide a whole plethora of vitamins of minerals – they key here is variety and colour!

Fresh and frozen fruits and veggies are both great options.

If your little one is fussy when it comes to veggies or fruit keep on exposing them to a wide variety and serve them up in different ways.

Example portion sizes of fruits & veggies:

½ – 2 tbsp vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, peas, corn

2 – 6 carrot sticks

¼ – 1 banana

When it comes to berries, a portion is roughly the size of their palm, e, 3-4 blueberries, raspberries or 1-2 strawberries

Dairy (or dairy free alternatives)

3 portions per day

Dairy provides calcium and protein. There are also lots of dairy free alternatives which are fortified to provide children with the right nutrition.

Example portion sizes of dairy & alternatives:

A small pot of yoghurt  (c.125ml)

A small glass of milk (c100-125ml)

c. 20g cheese or a small triangle

Protein

2 servings (or 3 if you are vegetarian)

Protein is so vital for growth and development and it also provides iron. Meat, fish, eggs, nuts, lentils & beans provide protein. Superfoods such as flaxseed, chia seeds and hemp hearts are also a fantastic plant-based source of protein.

If serving plant-based sources of protein ensure you serve vitamin C  rich food alongside to help absorption of the iron (e.g., strawberries, broccoli, oranges, tomatoes, pineapple).

Example portion sizes for protein include:

  • ½ – 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 – 4  tbsp chickpeas, lentils, beans, dhal
  • 1 tsp flaxseed of hemp hearts
  • 1 – 2 tbsp hummus

Reference for portion sizes from:

https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/toddlers/new5532.html