What size should finger food be for baby

Finger Food For Babies - The Ultimate Guide ・Healthy Little Foodies

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Starting your baby on finger foods can be exciting but it can also be an overwhelming and frustrating experience. This Guide to Finger Food for Babies not only gives an extensive list of finger food ideas, but it also answers the questions many parents have when it comes to starting finger foods.  

Of all the messages I receive, by far the most are about finger food for babies. Many parents are nervous about choking, unsure when to start and stuck for ideas.

This guide has been a long time coming and has been sitting in my drafts for some time now. Every time I receive an email, asking me about finger foods, I promise myself I will write this resource.

Finally, I have completed it!  I do feel, however, that this will be a resource that I return to and continually update as I receive new questions and develop new recipes to add to the list.

When Should I Start My Baby on Finger Food?

When you start your baby on finger food really depends on you, your baby and what method of weaning you have chosen.

  • Followers of Baby-led Weaning introduce finger food at 6 months.
  • Those following the Traditional Weaning approach, usually introduce finger food around 7-8 months.

As with many aspects of parenting, every baby and parent is different and there is no right time to start finger food. However:-

  • You shouldn’t start finger food before 6 months and your baby should be able to sit up independently and hold their head up.
  • You shouldn’t wait too long to introduce finger food. By one year, your baby should be eating table food, (the food you are eating in age-appropriate textures (shredded, chopped, etc), and self-feeding with assistance as necessary.
  • How many teeth (or lack of teeth) your baby has is not an indication of whether they can handle finger food or not. Gums are unbelievably strong.

How to Prepare Finger Food for Babies. 
  • You want to offer food that is safe and easy for your baby to pick up and put to their mouth. This will vary depending on the age of your baby.
    • Younger babies, 6-8 months, generally use their whole hand to pick up food, this means they have to close their hand around a piece of food to hold it. The food should be bigger than the palm of their hand as they can’t open their fist to get to it. Long strips of food work best at this age, around 5cm (2 inches).  Offering food that is too small can cause frustration.
    • As babies get older, around 8-9 months, they are able to pick up smaller pieces of food, they have usually developed their pincer grasp at this age and use their thumb and forefinger to feed themselves.
  • The texture is also something you need to think about, if the food is too soft it will turn to mush when handled. If too hard they won’t be able to gnaw on it and could be a choking hazard. You can make food easier to grip by leaving the skin on or by using crinkle cutters to add texture (see below picture).  
  • Don’t be afraid of spices and herbs, they are a fantastic way to add flavour and it is good to get your babies used to different flavours from a young age.
  • Try different cooking methods, roasting, steaming, sautéing and boiling all can change the texture and way a  food tastes. If your baby doesn’t like something steamed, don’t be disheartened, they may love it roasted!

How Much Should I Offer?

Many parents worry and wonder if their children are eating enough. With purees, it is easy to see what has been eaten but it is a little more blurry when it comes to finger foods and you find pieces of food on the floor or down the chair.

Let your baby decide how much they want to eat. They will naturally manage their own intake and will stop eating when full. Allow them to feed themselves at their own pace.

Offering a well-balanced diet of finger foods will help ensure that your baby is eating the right amount of the right nutritious foods.

Safety Precautions when Offering Finger Food to Babies
  • Make sure your baby is sitting upright to eat and not slumping or lying about.
  • Always ensure eating is done sitting. If you have a mobile baby make sure they are not eating on the run!
  • Don’t let anyone except your baby put food into their mouth (watch out for young siblings trying to feed their baby brother/sister.)
  • Never leave your baby alone with food, they should always be supervised.
  • Don’t offer food that is an obvious choking risk (see list below)

Gagging vs Choking

One of the main worries parents have about starting their baby on finger food is choking. Often worries about choking are based on seeing babies gagging on food. Although choking and gagging are related they are not the same thing.

It is very common for babies to gag on food. Gagging is triggered when food touches the sensitive area on the tongue or roof of the mouth. The gag reflex is very reactive in babies as the sensitive point is much further forward in the mouth.

When a baby gags, food that isn’t ready to be swallowed is pushed forward in a retching movement.  Although it can be unsettling to watch, babies generally don’t seem too bothered by it.

Choking happens when the airway is partially or fully blocked. When something partially blocks a baby’s airway they will start to cough to clear it. If a baby’s airway is fully blocked and they are truly choking they will be silent as no air can get past the blockage.

This is why it is crucial that you never leave your baby alone with food. 

Foods To Avoid / Take Care With
  • Whole nuts or large pieces of nuts – Avoid, they can get lodged in a babies windpipe.  
  • Popcorn -Avoid, unpopped and half-popped kernels can get caught in your child’s throat and block their airway.
  • Honey – Avoid, honey should never be given to a baby under 12 months. Honey may contain Clostridium botulinum spores which can lead to botulism poisoning.
  • Whole fruits with stones (cherries and larger stone fruits) – Take Care, stones should be removed and fruit should be ripe. 
  • Round Fruits – Take Care, round fruits such as grapes and cherry tomatoes should be cut in half lengthways or quartered.
  • Fish – Take care to properly debone. Avoid high mercury fish such as swordfish & king mackerel.
  • Meat – Take care to remove small bones and gristle. 
  • Processed foods – Take care and avoid where possible. Processed food often contain sodium levels too high for babies and can be high in sugar. 
  • Salt – Take Care and avoid where possible, babies up to 1 yr should have no more 1g of salt 0. 4g sodium per day. Do not add salt to foods.
  • Sugar – Take Care and avoid where possible, sugar provides empty calories with no nutrients, it also damages teeth. 
  • “Sticky” Foods – Avoid gummy candies/jellies etc as they can get lodged in your babies throat. Be careful with nut butter as they can be difficult for babies to swallow (don’t offer spoons of it, always spread it thinly on bread etc.)
  • Hard Foods – Avoid hard foods such as raw carrots and apples as chucks can break off and are a choking hazard. Soften them by cooking.

Finger Food for Babies – Ideas.

Now onto some ideas! This list is mainly based on what my kids ate and loved. There will obviously be hundreds of other finger food for babies ideas out there but this is a pretty good list to get you started (with over 90 ideas)

The best way to provide a good range of nutrients for your baby is to offer a varied diet. Having a varied diet will also allow your baby to experience different tastes and textures.

Always cut up the food to the size you and your baby are comfortable and have experience with.

Finger Food for Babies That Require No Cooking / Little Prep

Fast, healthy food with no cooking required!

  • Vegetables – Most vegetables need some preparation as they are too hard to offer babies raw and can, therefore, be a choking hazard.
    • Cucumber sticks – Served chilled and cut into fingers (great for teething) or diced.
  • Fruit – Most fruit is perfect for babies and requires no cooking. Make sure the fruit is ripe as unripe fruit (like nectarines, pears etc) are hard and can be a choking hazard.
    • Avocado – mash and spread it, cube or cut into strips.
    • Banana – Thin slices can be slippery and difficult to handle. Break into big chunks or leave some peel on as a “handle”.
    • Berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries etc) – All great finger foods, squish/half blueberries if they are large.
    • Cherry tomatoes – Cut in half lengthways or into quarters.
    • Grapes – Cut in half lengthways or cut into quarters.
    • Kiwi – Diced, cut into fingers
    • Mango  Diced/cut into fingers
    • Melon (all varieties) – Remove seeds and  dice/cut into fingers
    • Oranges / Clementines / Mandarins – Remove any seeds and cut into small pieces.
    • Papaya/ Paw Paw – Ripe, diced or cut into fingers
    • Pineapple – Diced or cut into rings (the ring makes a great handle!)
    • Pears – Ripe, diced or cut into fingers.
    • Stone Fruit (apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums etc) – Ripe, stone removed and diced/cut into strips.
  • Other
    • Cheddar Cheese – Grated or diced. (Be careful of the amount you offer as high in sodium)
    • Tinned Beans – Washed thoroughly, to remove as much salt possible, squish/or cut lengthways.
    • Tinned Tuna – Flaked. (Check the packaging for sodium levels and other added ingredients.)

Finger Food for Babies That Require Basic Cooking / Prep.

This section is a list of one ingredient foods that need some simple cooking before serving. Experiment with the cooking methods, try cooking with different fats (olive oil/butter) and with different herbs /spices.

  • Vegetables – Most vegetables are perfect for babies if cooked and served in a safe way.
    • Asparagus  – Steam/Roast and cut into bite-size pieces. I did baby-led weaning with my second child and gave them to him as spears.
    • Beetroot – Roast/steam and cut into appropriately sized pieces. (Can be messy!)
    • Broad Beans – Boil and remove skin,
    • Brocolli – Boil/Steam/Roast. Serve in small pieces or florets.
    • Carrot – Boils/Steam/Roast. Cut into fries or dice
    • Cauliflower – Boil/Steam/Roast. Serve in small pieces or florets
    • Capsicum (Bell Pepper) –Roast in strips and serve in strips or cut into appropriately sized pieces.
    • Egg Plant (Aubergine) – Roast/Sautee chunks.
    • Green Beans –Steam/sautee and cut into small bite-size pieces or strips.
    • Mushrooms – Sautee and serve in small bite size pieces or strips.
    • Parsnip – This was my youngest’s absolute favourite as a baby. Roast and serve in strips / bite-size pieces.
    • Peas – Steam/Boil/Sautee.
    • Potato – Steam/Boil/Roast. Cut into appropriately sized pieces.
    • Pumpkin – Steam/Boil/Roast. Cut into appropriately sized pieces.
    • Squash – Steam/Boil/Roast. Cut into appropriately sized pieces.
    • Sweetcorn – Boil/ Steam/Grill. Serve on the cob in small sections (see above picture) or individual kernels.
    • Sweet Potato – Boil/Steam/Roast. Serve as fries, wedges or small bite-size pieces.
    • Turnip – Boil/Steam/Roast. Cut into appropriately sized pieces.
    • Zucchini (Courgette) – Steam/Sautee/Roast. Cut into fingers / bite-size pieces.
  • Fruit – Most fruit is safe to serve raw but cook harder fruits to soften them.
    • Apple – Baked or sauteed until soft. Cut into appropriately sized pieces.
    • Pears – Baked or sauteed like above apple recipe. Cut into appropriately sized pieces.
    • Plantain – Grilled/roasted. Cut into appropriately sized pieces
  • Other – Other examples that require basic cooking include
    • Chicken – All cuts, baked/pan-fried/poached, shredded or diced into small pieces. Thigh meat is less dry and was favoured more by my kids when they were younger.
    • Couscous – Boil, clump and squish into a ball.
    • Eggs – scrambled, hard-boiled, omelet. Cut into appropriately sized pieces.
    • Fish – (white fish, salmon) Baked/pan-fried/microwaved etc, flaked being careful to check and remove bones
    • Ground Meat (beef, chicken, pork, lamb or turkey) Sauteed until fully cooked, add in herbs and spices for extra flavour.
    • Israeli Couscous – Boil and serve. Larger than regular couscous, my kids love it!
    • Lentils – Boil, drain and serve.
    • Pasta – Boil, cook and serve plain or with a sauce.
    • Prawns / Shrimp – Peeled and deveined and fully cooked. Cut into appropriately sized pieces.
    • Rice – Boil, allow to cool slightly then clump and roll into balls
    • Toast – Cut into fingers or finely chopped. To with a range of low salt/sugar spreads (hummus, carrot hummus peanut butter, mashed avocado etc)
    • Quinoa – Boil. I find quinoa harder to clump into balls but adding some grated cheese can help it stick together better.

Finger Food for Babies – Recipes

These are great recipes that both my boys loved as babies (and still do now!). Cut them up into the size your baby has experience with.

I receive a lot of e-mails from parents who have babies with allergies. Next to each recipe, I have detailed if it is Dairy Free (DF), Egg Free (EF), Gluten Free (GF) and Nut Free (NF).

Savoury Recipies
  • Savoury Pancakes/ Waffles / Muffins – Easy for babies to pick up and great for packing into lunchboxes for out and about.
    • Pea Pancakes (NF),
    • Lentil Pancakes (GF, EF, DF, NF),
    • Rainbow Fritters (GF, DF, NF)
    • Sweetcorn Quinoa Fritters (GF, DF, NF)
    • Carrot and Parsnip Fritters (DF, NF)
    • Zucchini Bites (NF)
    • Sweet Potato Pizza Bases (DF, NF)
    • Savoury Muffins (NF)
    • Savoury Waffles (NF)
  • Balls – Made with different grains or meat, easy to pick up
    • Sweet and Sour Quinoa Balls (GF, NF, DF)
    • Tomato and Cheese Quinoa Balls (GF, NF),
    • Baked Risotto Balls (DF, NF),
    • Ginger Lemongrass Chicken Meatballs (EF, NF)
    • Fruity Chicken Balls (EF, NF, optional DF, GF)
  • Croquettes / Tots / Bakes
    • Cauliflower Tots (NF),
    • Sweet Potato, Lentil and Carrot Croquettes (NF)
    • Bean and Veggie Nuggets (NF)
    • Veggie Chickpea Sticks (GF, EF, NF)
    • Fish Fingers (DF, NF)
    • Curried Lentil Bake (GF, DF, NF),
    • Mexican Lentil Bake (GF, NF)
  • Eggs – Delicious, easy to pick up egg recipes.
    • Egg Rolls (GF, NF)
    • Mini Crustless Quiches (GF,NF)
    • Tuna Frittata (NF, GF)

Sweet Recipes
  • Oats – These recipes are great for breakfast or as a sweet snack and they can all be frozen.
    • Porridge Fingers (DF, EF, NF)
    • Mango and Coconut Breakfast Bars (DF, NF),
    • Fruity Breakfast Bites (NF),
    • Raspberry Banana Oat Cookies (EF, NF, DF)
    • Plum and Almond Baked Oats (DF),
  • Pancakes – Great for little hands, why not try these variations.
    • Banana Blueberry Fritters (DF, EF, GF, NF),
    • Green Smoothie Pancakes (NF),
    • Banana Pancakes (DF, GF, NF),
    • Sweet Potato Pancakes (DF, GF, NF)
  • Muffins and Cookies – These recipes are sweetened only with fruit, making them great for babies.
    • Mini Blender Muffins (NF),
    • Fruity Chickpea Cookies (EF, DF, NF)
    • Carrot Apple Muffins 
    • Sweet Potato Truffles  (EF, DF, GF)     
  • Frozen Recipies – Allow your baby to experience different textures, flavours, and temperatures. Warning – will get messy!
    • Hidden Veg Popscicles (GF, EF, NF)
    • Frozen Yoghurt Bark (GF, EF, NF)
Finger Food for Babies – Out and About

There are so many snacks and finger food for babies and toddlers available on the market. I rarely ever bought them as I never saw the need to.

Always look at the back of the packaging, at the ingredient list. Marketers are very clever at convincing us that something is healthy when it is not.

Fresh ripe fruit is perfect for out and about and many of the above recipes can be frozen and are easy to take out and about.

Do you still have questions? Leave any queries you have below and hopefully, they can be answered.  

Disclaimer: This information is intended for general use only. It is not medical advice and is not intended to replace the personalised care and advice given to you by your health professional. I am not a health professional and I do not know your baby. You should always discuss any concerns or questions about the health and well being of your baby, including Baby-Led Weaning and starting solids, with a healthcare professional. Please refer to my full disclaimer for more info.

Meet Amy

Amy Whiteford runs the blog Healthy Little Foodies. She is a mum to two, has a BSc (Hons) Food Science, PGDE Primary Education and a Certificate in Childhood Nutrition. She uses her experience and knowledge to create healthy and delicious recipes for kids. Explore the site for creative ideas, tips, and inspiration! Read more

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Best Early Finger Foods for Baby (With Tips, Visuals, and Recipes)

Use this list of safe, nutritious, and easy to eat finger foods for baby to help you know exactly what (and how) to offer at meals and snacks. Plus, find the best first finger foods, troubleshooting tips, and visuals of foods broken down by food group to keep things easy!

Finger Foods for Baby

After baby starts solids and is ready to move onto finger foods, you may feel a little confused by exactly what to serve and how to serve it. Which is totally normal because it can be scary to let baby feed themselves this way and we may not have any experience doing this—or we may have totally forgotten from our last kiddo!

This list of finger foods for baby will cover some great first finger foods to start with, then set you up with plenty of healthy options from each food group.

TIP: Find more info on starting solids here and the best foods to start with if doing baby led weaning or purees with baby.

Healthy Baby Food

I love sharing these ideas for baby food since they are easy to prepare and serve and because I know how hard it can be to continue to come up with flavorful and healthy meals and snacks for our little ones. Let me tell you, I’m on my third kiddo and it can be such a challenge to feed him during the chaos of parenting the rest of my crew! These foods are wholesome and nutritious—perfect for your baby.

TIP: I’m a big fan of SpoonfulONE, a company that offers the most complete way to introduce food allergens to our kids. They make mix-ins, puffs, and crackers that are yummy and easy for babies and toddlers to eat. Learn more about their pediatrician-approved baby foods here. (sponsored link)

Best First Finger Foods

When baby is around 9 months, you’ll notice that they’re able to pick up smaller pieces of food with two fingers. This is known as the “pincer grasp” and is a sign that they’re ready to start finger foods. To be clear, when I say “finger foods” I mean small pieces of food that a baby (or toddler) can feed themselves.

Here are some of my favorite ones to start with that are all super soft, safe to eat, and easy to pick up.

  • Scrambled egg, broken up into small pieces
  • Roasted sweet potato mashed and broken up into small pieces
  • Fresh raspberries, broken up into smaller pieces
  • Oatmeal, cooked according to package directions and allowed to cool
  • Tofu, diced and sauteed lightly or steamed
  • Ground beef, chicken, or turkey, broken up into small pieces or lightly mashed meatballs
  • Shredded cheese or crumbled goat cheese
  • Mashed sweet potato, in little pieces
  • Peanut butter puffs

TIP: You can serve the tofu, ground meat, or meatballs in veggie puree from a pouch or a simple marinara sauce for extra moisture and flavor. Learn more about how and why to introduce peanut butter.

Finger Foods for Baby: Fruits and Veggies

Some of my favorite early fruits and veggies to serve babies are:

  • Mashed roasted sweet potato, broken up into small pieces
  • Warmed frozen peas, slightly mashed if desired
  • Roasted Zucchini
  • Diced Roasted Sweet Potato or Butternut Squash
  • Fresh blueberries, cut in half or quarters
  • Fresh raspberries, broken into small pieces
  • Banana, broken into small segments (they are less slippery this way versus slicing them)
  • Avocado, diced and mashed slightly (be sure it’s ripe and very soft)

TIP: A good rule of thumb is to serve pieces of food that are about the size of a pea to start and soft enough that they are easy to squish between your fingers. This will be easy for baby to pick up and eat and will also reduce chances of choking.

Finger Food Ideas: Carbohydrates

Offering complex carbohydrates can provide fiber, a variety of textures, B vitamins, and more. Try these with your baby.

  • Spinach pancakes (moisten with applesauce or plain yogurt if needed; this recipe is particularly moist and great for babies)
  • Oatmeal, cooked according to package directions and allowed to cool
  • Baby Puffs
  • Peanut Butter Puffs
  • Rice (it’s easiest if it’s in little clumps so baby can pick it up; this Coconut Rice or this Cheesy Rice are both good options)
  • Baby Banana Muffin
  • O cereal (soften in nondairy unsweetened milk or yogurt as needed)
  • Baked Oatmeal, diced

Finger Food Ideas: Proteins

Offering proteins will continue to expose baby to a range of nutrients. These are my go-tos for babies newer to finger foods—and toddlers too.

  • Shredded cheese (thicker cuts are a little easier to pick up)
  • Tofu, diced and sauteed lightly or steamed
  • Flaked cooked wild salmon
  • Lightly mashed meatballs
  • Shredded chicken, cut up finely (we love this Butter Chicken to share with baby)
  • Ground beef, turkey, or chicken, broken into smaller pieces
  • Lightly mashed beans
  • Scrambled eggs, broken up into small pieces
  • Diced egg muffins

I’d love to hear any questions you may have, or if you have foods that your babies enjoy that I didn’t include here.

Chime in below in the comments!

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cook Time 5 minutes

Total Time 10 minutes

Author Amy Palanjian

Cuisine American

Course Baby Food

Calories 124kcal

Servings 1

First Finger Foods (choose 1-3 per meal)
  • ▢ 1 Scrambled egg (broken up into small pieces)
  • ▢ 1/4 cup Roasted sweet potato, mashed and broken up into small pieces
  • ▢ 1/4 cup Fresh raspberries (broken up into smaller pieces)
  • ▢ 1/4 cup Oatmeal (cooked according to package directions and allowed to cool)
  • ▢ 2 tbsp Tofu (diced and sauteed lightly or steamed)
  • ▢ 2 tbsp ground beef, chicken, or turkey, broken up into small pieces or lightly mashed meatballs
  • ▢ 2 tbsp shredded cheese or crumbled goat cheese
  • ▢ 1/4 cup Mashed sweet potato (broken into little pieces)
  • ▢ 1/4 cup Peanut butter puffs
Fruits and Veggies
  • ▢ 1/4 cup mashed roasted sweet potato (broken up into small pieces)
  • ▢ 1/4 cup warmed frozen peas
  • ▢ 1/4 cup Roasted Zucchini
  • ▢ 1/4 cup diced Roasted Sweet Potato or Butternut Squash
  • ▢ 1/4 cup blueberries (cut in half or quarters)
  • ▢ 1/4 cup raspberries (broken into small pieces)
  • ▢ 1/4 cup banana slices (broken into small segments—they are less slippery this way versus slicing them)
  • ▢ 2 tbsp avocado (diced and mashed slightly—be sure it's ripe and very soft)
Whole Grains and Carbohydrates
  • ▢ 1 Spinach pancakes (moisten with applesauce or plain yogurt if needed; this recipe is particularly moist and great for babies)
  • ▢ 1/4 cup Oatmeal (cooked according to package directions and allowed to cool)
  • ▢ 1/4 cup Baby Puffs
  • ▢ 1/4 cup Peanut Butter Puffs
  • ▢ 1/4 cup fully cooked rice (it's easiest if it's in little clumps so baby can pick it up; this Coconut Rice or this Cheesy Rice are both good options)
  • ▢ 1 Baby Banana Muffin
  • ▢ 1/4 cup O cereal (soften in nondairy unsweetened milk or yogurt as needed)
  • ▢ 1/4 cup Baked Oatmeal (diced or regular oatmeal broken into little pieces)
  • ▢ 2 tbsp Shredded cheese (such as mozzarella)
  • ▢ 2 tbsp Tofu (diced and sauteed lightly or steamed)
  • ▢ 2 tbsp flaked cooked wild salmon
  • ▢ 1 lightly mashed meatballs
  • ▢ 2 tbsp finely shredded chicken (we love this Butter Chicken to share with baby)
  • ▢ 2 tbsp ground beef, turkey, or chicken (broken into smaller pieces)
  • ▢ 2 tbsp lightly mashed beans
  • ▢ 1 Scrambled egg (broken up into small pieces)
  • ▢ 1 Diced Egg muffins
  • For each meal or snack, choose 2-3 foods from a mix of food groups. Aim to include some fat in most meals and protein in many too.

  • Prepare the food, cutting into small pieces and/or mashing as needed to make the food easy to eat.

  • Start with small portions and allow more as baby indicates according to their hunger.

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-5 days in the fridge.
  • Many foods you cook for your family will work as baby finger foods—just be sure they are easy to squish between your fingers and the pieces are small and easy to chew.
  • Babies very normally make a lot of faces when they eat, so don't assume they don't like something just because they scrunch their nose!
  • Flavors and textures can take time to learn to eat, so continue offering foods in small portions even if baby hasn't liked them in the past—and make sure they taste good to you!

Calories: 124kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 164mg, Sodium: 81mg, Potassium: 344mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 9857IU, Vitamin C: 18mg, Calcium: 51mg, Iron: 1mg

Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!


Union of Pediatricians of Russia

Nutrition for children aged 1 to 3 years

The period from 1 to 3 years of life is a crucial stage in the transition to an adult type of nutrition, which has certain features. In order to ensure that the child's body receives all the necessary nutrients and at the same time prevent an excess of individual nutrients, nutrition should be balanced and varied.

The daily amount of food for children aged 1 to 1.5 years should be 1000-1200 g, from 1.5 to 3 years - 1200-1500 g, the amount of food in one feeding should not exceed 300-350 ml. The diet consists of three main meals per day and two snacks. It is considered optimal when breakfast is 25% of the total energy density of the diet, lunch is 30–35%, dinner is 20%, and additional meals are about 10%. In general, the child can eat the same food as the rest of the family.

In the diet of a child of 1–3 years of age , must be present daily: meat of animals or poultry, dairy and sour-milk products, vegetables, fruits, bread, cereals, vegetable and butter; fish and eggs are included in the diet 2-3 times a week.

Cereal products: bread - 2-3 servings per day, cereals and side dishes - 1 time per day
Fruit and/or vegetables: at least 5 times a day
Dairy products: at least 3 servings per day (including those used to make cereals, yoghurts, fermented milk drinks, cottage cheese, infant formula or breast milk).

Domestic pediatricians recommend that when preparing a diet for children aged 1–3 years, preference should be given to specialized children's dairy products of industrial production that meet high quality requirements and safety indicators for this age. Most children's dairy products are additionally enriched with vitamins and/or minerals and other biologically active components, taking into account the physiological needs of children of this age. At the same time, in foreign recommendations, children over 1 year old are offered the gradual introduction of whole cow's milk, which is rich in fats necessary for proper growth and development, the absorption of vitamins A and D, the development of the brain and nervous system of the child.

Meat dishes: 2-3 times a day
Fish dishes: 2-3 servings per week
Eggs: 2-3 per week
Dietary fats: 3-4 teaspoons of butter and/or vegetable oils per day

When cooking, use the minimum amount of salt and sugar, and do not add them to industrial products.

Offer your child a variety of foods and let them choose for themselves. Children love to eat on their own, so if possible, offer food that your child can eat with their hands.

It is important to remember that a baby can choke on pieces of food, so whatever you give your baby should be crushed or cut into small pieces that can be easily chewed.

Do not give to a small child: nuts, whole grapes, cherry tomatoes (unless quartered), whole carrots, seeds (such as pumpkin or sunflower seeds), round candies, legumes, raisins, because a child can eat them choke.

Also in the diet of children of the first 3 years of life should not be present:

Mushrooms; canned snacks, pickled vegetables and fruits
Home canned food
Dry concentrates for side dishes
Hot sauces, mustard, horseradish, pepper, vinegar, mayonnaise
Natural coffee
Juices and drinks in the form of dry concentrates; sweet carbonated drinks
Products containing food additives (flavorings, dyes of artificial origin, including chewing gum), popcorn
Combined fats; cakes and pastries

It is important to remember that children of this age should not be given too spicy and spicy foods.

Optimal nutrition for children aged 2 to 5 years

Submitted by Mironova Irina on Mon, 10/11/2021 - 15:35

 In your baby's second year, you learned about their nutritional needs, food choices and how to prepare them, got to know your baby's habits, and overcame challenges. Perhaps, from the third year, the attention of parents is more focused on other activities and needs of the child. However, remember that nutrition is still one of the key factors in helping a child grow and reach their potential. A quality, balanced diet is an effective prevention of health problems later in life, such as obesity, diabetes, heart and blood vessel disease. 

What and how much a child should eat

  • Children between the ages of two and five usually grow about seven centimeters and gain about two kilograms per year. After two years of age (up to four years), for normal growth and weight gain, a child should consume 1300 calories per day. However, calorie requirements vary depending on the activity as well as the constitution of the child and his metabolism, so do not worry if your child does not eat as much as you expect.
  • Appetite is variable at this age, higher at some times, but often decreases when the child is tired or agitated. Children love to use their own cutlery with meals, and using children's utensils will also help determine the appropriate portion size for a child.
  • The child should be offered a variety of foods from all five food groups. A variety of nutrients are essential for the maintenance of bodily functions and the healthy development of its systems and brain. The basis of nutrition at this age is similar to that of adults, but the amount varies.
  • After the second year of life, milk with 2-3% fat content can be offered instead of whole milk, the volume should not exceed approximately 500 ml per day (if there is no allergy to cow's milk). It is permissible to consume juice no more than 120 ml per day.
  • In natural products, various groups of vitamins are contained in optimal ratios, the most effective form of intake of nutrients into the body and the best for their absorption is their natural consumption with food and daily presence in the child's diet. If your child eats a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables and grains, then at this age he will not need additional vitamin supplements.
  • Foods and drinks high in sugar and salt should be avoided (thick juices, sugary cereals, chips, sweets, pastries, etc.)

When and how a child should eat

  • The optimal diet is when meals are frequent, the portions are small (usually three meals a day and two snacks between them). Your child should receive three equal meals each day, which must not be skipped or combined. Meals should be arranged at approximately the same time each day.
  • Breakfast should be in the first hour after waking up. It gives the necessary energy to start the day; and a child who is used to having breakfast at home will have less desire to snack in canteens, cafes and bakeries.
  • The remaining meals are scheduled at intervals of two to three hours. The last meal should be at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Try to diversify your baby's menu with new ideas and cooking methods. Children love colorful, beautifully presented food.
  • Snacks should be offered between meals because it is difficult for a young child to provide the required calories and nutrients in just three main meals. They are also convenient for introducing new food, often the child first takes it as a snack.

The habits of proper nutrition, laid down in childhood, are preserved for life

The skills that we acquire in the early years accompany us throughout our lives. Therefore, it is extremely important to teach a child to eat properly in order to eliminate many negative factors that provoke the development of various diseases, as well as to ensure the full growth and development of the child. One of the most valuable gifts we can give a child is to teach him how to make good choices when it comes to food, so that he is ready to give preference to healthy foods, to forego the many negative alternatives that are readily available at the present time.

Eating is much more than food.

You determine:

  • What the child eats - all kinds of foods: cereals, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products.
  • Who feeds or supervises the feeding (the feeding of the child must be in the presence of an adult).
  • When the child eats, if possible, at about the same time: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. A child needs habits and routines that create a sense of security.
  • Where the child eats - at the table, the younger one is on a chair, the older one is on a chair. Whenever possible, gather more family members together at meals.

The child determines:

  • Whether he will eat what is offered to him or not. If your child says no, offer another meal (up to ten times) of the food he doesn't take. Maybe in some other form, with some other food he likes to eat. Be patient and understanding.
  • How much he will eat. Put less on your plate, and add more if needed. Don't force your child to eat whatever you put on the plate. Let the younger child eat with their fingers, teach the older ones how to use cutlery.

For optimal growth and development of your baby and the formation of good habits, it is important not only what and how much the child eats, but also when, how and where he eats, who feeds the child or looks after him during meals. By the age of two, your toddler has developed enough motor skills to eat unassisted and should be allowed to do so. It is worth being more tolerant of childish "ill manners" at the table and the mess associated with this. Just keep showing your child your good manners and he/she will learn from you. A child at this age has to figure out what he likes and doesn't like, and this can be very time consuming for you and drag out your meal times.

At the age of three, a child can use a spoon and fork. He or she will most likely be looking for their favorite food (often sweets) and she or he may need the same food for several days in a row. Children love to help in the kitchen and play "cooking". From an early age, teach your child to eat at the table, chew every bite, never rush or talk while a bite is in your mouth. If you start teaching your baby to eat with the rest of the family early, your child will quickly learn that food is both a time for communication and pleasant family moments, he will learn to enjoy it.

Be an example for your child! Toddlers watch and adopt the habits of their parents and family, regardless of what they are told and advised. Taking care of healthy eating for children is also an opportunity for the family to review their eating habits and make some positive changes. It is easier to move forward in small steps, gradually incorporating what you have achieved into your daily habits. You may be surprised how small changes can make a big difference in your family's health.

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