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Portion sizes

Every child is different and allowing them to eat until they are satisfied is an important part of their learning. Children’s appetites vary from day to day but the tips below will help you to make sure they get enough, but not too much to eat.

Tips for giving your children child sized portions

  1. 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.
  2. Give them smaller portions of food on their plates to start with, and if they want more food, then give it to them.
  3. If they say they're hungry, offer them something nutritious like fruit and vegetables (for example, an apple or handful of grapes).
  4. Avoid having fatty and sugary snack foods freely available between and after meals.
  5. 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).


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 Food Safety Promotion Board