Nutrition for Young Children

Nutrition for Young Children

16 September 2015

It is recommend that your child eat three meals per day plus snacks in between, from a variety of food groups. Most children will eat when they’re hungry. If your child is rejecting certain foods and drinks, here is a range of tips you can try to encourage their eating.

Tips for your child’s eating

  • Avoid offering snacks close to mealtimes. A one or two hour gap is best.
  • If your child asks for food but doesn’t seem hungry, try to keep them busy.
  • Eat as a family at least once a day. Children like to copy their parents.
  • It’s best to ignore leftover food - praise for trying is a better plan.
  • Try to serve meals before your child is tired, or have your evening meal earlier.
  • Offer a variety of foods during the day, as your tired child may not eat well at night.
  • Present your child’s food in different ways, like offering meat as hamburgers or meatballs.
  • Involve your child in the preparation, as it may increase their interest.
  • Keep food choices simple (e.g. apple or banana). This gives children a feeling of control.


A child’s diet

A healthy diet includes a range of foods and snacks from all food groups such as:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables (raw or cooked)
  • Cereals, crackers, breads & small sandwiches
  • Meat
  • Dairy products e.g. cheese and yoghurt

Offer your child plenty of variety, and don’t worry if they refuse some things - they’ll make up for it by eating other foods. For example, they might reject some vegetables but gobble up plenty of fruit instead.

Snacks and treats

Children need fat in their diets for energy and growth, but it’s important not to have high-fat and high-sugar foods every day (such as chips, lollies and ice cream). Avoid talking about them as ‘bad’ foods however, and teach your child to enjoy them as an occasional treat.