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How Much Should I Expect My Young Child To Eat?

How much should I expect my young child to eat? Children's appetites vary considerably from day to day, and even from one meal to the next, so you shouldn't expect (or demand) a clean plate at every meal. It's tough to know how much food you should serve, but a good rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon of each food per year of age, up to about age 5. Don't be too concerned that a child gets the right amount of nutrients at each meal or snack. It's more important that nutrient needs are met by averaging intakes over time – over a day or a week.

Suggested meals and snacks

  1 to 3 years 4 to 6 years
breakfast    
milk 1/2 cup 3/4 cup
juice, fruit 1/4 cup 1/2 cup
cereal 1/4 cup 1/3 cup
bread 1/4 to 1/2 slice 1/2 slice
midmorning/ midafternoon snack    
milk 1/2 cup 1/2 cup
bread or 1/4 to 1/2 slice 1/2 cup
graham cracker (2" X 2") or 1 2
vanilla wafers 2 4-6
lunch or dinner    
milk 1/2 cup 1/2 to 3/4 cup
meat/meat alternative    
poultry, fish, cheese 1 oz 1-1/2 oz
cooked egg 1/2 egg 1 egg
cooked dry beans or peas 2 tbsp 1/4 cup
peanut butter 1 tbsp 2 tbsp
vegetables, fruit 2 tbsp 1/4 to 1/3 cup
breads (whole grain or enriched) 1/4 to 1/2 slice 1/2 slice

Quick Meals for Healthy Kids

From Quick Meals for Healthy Kids and Busy Parents. Copyright © 1995 by Sandra K. Nissenberg, Margaret L. Bogle, and Audrey C. Wright. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

To order this book visit www.wiley.com.

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From Quick Meals for Healthy Kids and Busy Parents. Copyright 1995 by Sandra K. Nissenberg, Margaret L. Bogle, and Audrey C. Wright. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

To order this book visit www.wiley.com.


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