Skip to content

Let's go Easy on the treats

Children's portion sizes

Children's portion sizes

Every child is different. Allowing them to eat until they are satisfied is an important part of their learning.

Children’s appetites vary from day to day. They depend on the child’s age, whether they are going through a growth spurt and how physically active they are.  It’s important that we serve them enough nutritious foods and allow them to decide when they are full.

The tips below will help you to make sure they get enough, but not too much to eat.

1. Know what a child-sized portion looks like

As a rule of thumb a five year old should eat about half the amount that an adult does. You can move up or down from this, depending on the age of your child.

How to decide the right portion size for kids, Joana da Silva from safefood

2. Give them 'seconds' if they want more

Give them smaller portions of food on their plates to start with, and if they want more food, then give it to them.

3. Feed them when they're hungry - but make it something nutritious

If they say they're hungry between meals, offer something nutritious such as an apple or handful of grapes.

4. Go easy on "treat" foods - once or twice a week is enough

Avoid having treats freely available between and after meals. Healthy snacks are fine.

5. It's ok if they don't finish everything

Don’t pressure them to eat all the food on their plate, allow them to stop when they say ‘I’ve had enough’.


6. Use plates and cutlery that match their size.

7. Look at the proportions of food you offer during the day

They should be roughly:

  • One third fruit and veg
  • One third starchy foods like bread and potatoes
  • One third dairy (milk, cheese and yogurt) and protein (meat and fish).

Related pages

Safefood Logo

Sign up for our latest healthy eating and recipe updates.

Safefood logo

The site content is redirecting to the NI version.