What is a serving? Use the guidelines below to help you determine how much to serve your child.
|One cup of food (8 ounces)||Large handful or small adult fist|
|Three ounces of meat||The palm of a woman’s hand|
|One ounce of cheese||A thumb|
|One tablespoon (tbsp.)||Tip of your thumb from the last crease|
|One teaspoon (tsp.)||Tip of your little finger from the last crease|
|Food Types||1-2 year olds||3-5 year olds||Daily Servings||Food Bank|
1/2 slice of bread
1/4 cup dry cereal
1/4 cup pasta or rice
1/2 slice of bread
1/3 cup dry cereal
1/4 cup pasta or rice
|6-11||whole wheat bread, pasta, rice|
|Vegetables||1/4 cup||1/2 cup||3-5||green beans, broccoli, carrots|
|Fruits||1/4 cup||1/2 cup||2-4||banana, applesauce, strawberries|
|Milk/Dairy Products||1/2 cup||3/4 cup||2-3||skim milk, cottage cheese, cheese slices, low-fat yogurt|
|Meat, Eggs and Beans||1 ounce of meat
1/4 cup of beans
|11/2 ounce of meat
3/8 cup of beans
3 tbsp. peanut butter
|2||egg, refried beans, chicken leg, hamburger patty|
Remember, some foods contain more than one food group and are combination foods, such as: burritos, sandwiches and cereal with milk.
These sizes are suggestions. Parents can provide about this much food and children can decide how much they will eat.
This information is based on the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service. Child and Adult Care Food Program Meals Patterns.
You probably remember the Food Pyramid from school. It shows which foods and how much of them to include in our diet, as well as showing that exercise and healthy foods are vital to good health. Children should have plenty of whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Dairy products are important for children’s health, but should be low-fat for children over two, and should be given in proper serving sizes. Provide a variety of foods each day to help children have healthy bodies! To learn more about the Food Pyramid, visit mypyramid.gov.
Reading Food Labels
All packaged foods are required to have a food label. Reading a food label can be confusing at times. Here are some tips to help you in reading a food label.
- Serving Size: Usually for an adult.
- Calories: Choose foods which are low in calories per serving.
- Fat: Foods should be low in saturated fats (less than three grams).
- Trans Fats: Such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil should be avoided.
- Nutrients: These are vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, calcium and iron.
- Ingredients: Food labels are required to list ingredients in order of their amount in the food. This means a food contains the largest amount of the first ingredient and the smallest amount of the last ingredient. If sugar or corn syrup is first, the food should be used sparingly.
- Foods that have no nutrients.
- Foods that contain plenty of protein, fiber and vitamins, and have less than 30 percent of fat.
Feeding Toddlers and Preschoolers
- Toddlers have smaller appetites than babies.
- A full serving of food for a toddler is only one or two tablespoons.
- Don’t force toddlers to eat more, and don’t force them to stay at the table when they’re through.
- Toddlers often refuse food they liked as infants. Just keep offering them, and some day they may eat them.
- When a child only eats one or two foods, don’t offer them at every meal. Offer a variety of foods to maintain balance.
- Provide structure by setting a routine for snack and mealtimes.
- Children’s blood sugar often dips in late morning or just before dinner, so offer a small snack of a fruit or vegetable.
- Cut foods into interesting shapes.
- Toddlers often graze – eating only a little bit several times a day. This is normal; just be sure these foods are healthy ones.
- Preschoolers have periods when they eat more, and then times when they eat less. It is part of their growth, so don’t worry!
- Help your child learn to control impulses. When he sees a cookie, explain that he can have one after dinner.
- Allow children to only take small portions at first, then allow more if they are still hungry.
- Allow small portions of higher fat foods and snacks, such as chips, every now and then.
- Too much restriction of foods can backfire.