What to feed your older toddler 24 – 36 months

From 24-36 months, your toddler should be having a variety of foods from each food group that’s consistent with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

Remember that you’re still responsible for the What, Where, When and your toddler is responsible for HOW MUCH and WHETHER. For information on feeding roles visit the Feeding roles of parents and toddlers page.

Don’t place additional pressure on yourself to make sure your child meets the guidelines. Treat the guidelines as a rough plan for what you provide – Meeting the guidelines is up to them!

Which foods and how much for bubs 24-36 months

Veggies

2.5 servings of veggies a day, the table below explains what 1 serve would be:

1/2 cup of cooked veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, carrots, etc), 1/2 medium potato/sweet potato, 1 cup of leafy raw vegetables, 1/2 cup of cooked lentils/legumes. 

Learn more about the important role of veggies at Eat For Health.

Fruit

1 serve of fruit a day, the table below explains what 1 serve would be:

1 medium piece of apple ,orange, banana, or 2 small pieces kiwi, plums, apricots or 1 cup of canned fruits in their own juice. 

Learn more about fruits at Eat for Health.

Cereals and Grains

4 serves of cereals and grains a day, the table below explains what 1 serve would be:

1 slice of bread; or ½ cup of cooked rice, pasta, noodles, quinoa or polenta; or ½ cup of porridge; or ⅔ cup of wheat cereal flakes; or ¼ cup of muesli; or 1 crumpet or small English muffin.  Wholemeal options would be best.

 

Learn more about grain at Eat For Health

Lean meats/meat alternatives

Your child should have 1 serve of lean meats/poultry/fish/eggs/legumes/tofu per day, the table below explains what  1 serve would be:

65 gm of cooked lean beef, lamb, veal or pork; or 80 gm of cooked lean chicken or turkey; or 100 gm of cooked fish fillet; or 170 gm of cooked tofu; or 2 large eggs; or 1 cup of cooked lentils, chickpeas or canned beans; or 1½ tablespoons of smooth nut pastes and spreads ** avoid whole nuts due to their choking risk.

 

Learn more about protein containing foods at Eat For Health

Dairy (Milk, Yoghurt, Cheese)

Soy (except fortified soy products and soy formula where specifically indicated), and other  alternate milks or milk substitutes (e.g. goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk) are inappropriate alternatives to full fat dairy or breast milk from 12- 24 months. *Full Fat dairy is Key from 12- 24 months, reduced fat milk and other light dairy products are appropriate from 2 years on.  

1-1.5 serves a day, the table below explains what 1 serve would be:

1 cup (250 ml) of milk , or 2 slices of cheese; or ¾ cup (200 gm) of yoghurt; or ½ cup of ricotta cheese. 

 

Learn more about how diary is good for your toddler at  Eat For Health

Healthy Fats

The recommendation is 4.5 gm/day of unsaturated fats (i.e 1/8 avocado or 1 teaspoon nut/seed pastes or olive oils in cooking). Avoid whole nuts and seeds as this poses a choking risk. 

Fluids

drinking water

Water is best! At this age, your child should be drinking fluids (water, full fat milk) from a cup.

Avoid giving soft drinks, flavoured milks or flavoured waters, juice, energy drinks or sports drinks as these are high in sugar and don’t provide any nutritional value needed for your growing toddler. They also can lead to more fussy eating behaviours and dental issues

Meal time

Meals

Meals:  Family meals all the way. It’s such an important time for your toddler to learn how to behave at family meals and learn to eat towards their appetite. 

Snacks

Snacks- Sitting at a table without distractions. Don’t allow your toddler to snack on the run or whilst doing other activities. 

Putting it all together

It’s easier to reach their daily needs by sticking to an eating pattern of 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and a couple of snacks in between. 

Don’t stress if your toddler hasn’t reached the recommended serves for each food group each day, rather look at the total week to see how their average intake is. If your toddler is hungry at a non meal or snack time, offer water and let them know their next meal/snack is not far off. 

A bit about snacks or “mini meals”. Mini meals are an opportunity to provide nutrient dense foods,similar to what you would provide at meals. A healthy mini meal could include a combination of fruits / vegetables / meat / fish / lentils / legumes / eggs / breads and cereals / nut butters.  Avoid packaged “snack” foods as these are not as nutritious as whole foods. 

Some ideas

  • Hard boiled egg (cut up)  + wholemeal toast + cut up strawberries
  • Yoghurt + 1/2  chopped banana + cut up blueberries
  • Wholemeal english muffin (1/2) + hummus + carrot sticks
  • Pikelet + nut butter + sliced strawberries 
  • Tuna or sardines  + wholemeal toast + green beans 
  • Low fat milk + carrots/celery sticks.

Further Information

For Dietary Guidelines in pictures visit the Raising Children Network click here.

For great snack ideas visit: First Steps Nutrition UK.