Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy: A Guide to Portion Sizes

How much food is enough?

From birth to six months, all your baby will need is breast milk or formula (while some start solids as early as four months, recent studies show that babies’ digestive systems may not be ready to handle anything other than milk at this point; and some anti-allergens are not  yet produced, leaving babies susceptible to allergy attacks). Babies are also born with the ability to self-regulate their energy intake, so it is best to feed them on demand, or whenever they signal that they are hungry. As you start solids, you can gradually guide their feeding into a regular pattern that will jive with the rest of the family’s. By the time your child reaches toddler hood, he will also be taking three main meals and two snacks throughout the day.

The bottomline is to teach your child not only to eat healthy foods, but also to enjoy them and prefer them in the future, when they choose their own foods.

One of the biggest challenges in feeding is knowing how much to give your child. Lack of knowledge most often results in overfeeding--which could lead to bad eating habits in the future. Here’s a guide on the average serving sizes for your child. Remember though, that this is an approximation. Your child’s own body build, activity level and preferences will still determine how much he will actually eat at any given meal. As long as your child is growing well, active and healthy, she most likely is eating enough, says Dr. Angelica Tomas. Consult your pediatrician for any concerns.  

  Amount per Day Amount per Day Amount per Day Amount per Day Amount per Day
Age Dairy Grains Vegetables Fruits Protein
0 to 4 months  Breast milk: on  demand, usually up to 8x/day

Formula: approximately 2.5x the baby’s weight, e.g. 6lbs x 2.5 = 15oz formula in 24 hours

       
4 to 6 months

NOTE: most doctors recommend starting solids  no earlier than 6 months

24-32 oz or 4-6 feedings Start with 1tbsp dry rice cereal mixed with 4-5tbsp breast milk or formula 1x/day; then move on to 1tbsp dry cereal with enough breast milk or formula to desired consistency, 2x/day      
6 to 8 months 24-32 oz or 4-6 feedings 3-9tbsp cereal in 2-3 feedings 1tsp pureed or mashed veggies, gradually increasing to ¼ to ½ cup in 2-3 feedings 1tsp pureed or mashed fruit, gradually increasing to ¼ to ½ cup in 2-3 feedings  
8 to 10 months 16-24 oz or 3-5 feedings; PLUS

¼ - 1/3 cup dairy like cheese, yogurt or cottage cheese (no cow’s milk)

¼ - ½ cup cereal ¼ - ½ cup mashed or pureed ¼ - ½ cup mashed or pureed 1/8  - ¼  cup mashed or pureed
10 to 12 months 16-24 oz or 3-5 feedings; PLUS

1/3 cup dairy like cheese, yogurt or cottage cheese (no cow’s milk yet)

¼ - ½ cup cereal ¼ - ½ cup mashed or pureed ¼ - ½ cup mashed or pureed 1/8  - ¼  cup mashed or pureed
12 to 18 months 2-3 servings; 1 serving = ½ cup whole milk; 1oz cheese; 1/3 - ½ cup yogurt or cottage cheese 4-6 servings; 1 serving = ¼ -1/3 cup cereal;  ¼ cup pasta or rice; ¼ - ½ slice bread ¼ - ½ cup mashed or cubed ¼ - ½ cup mashed or cubed 2 servings; 1 serving = 2tbs ground or 2 1”cubes meat, poultry or fish; 1 egg; ¼ cup tofu or cooked beans; 1tbs smooth peanut butter
18 to 24 months 2-3 servings; 1 serving = ½ cup whole milk; 1oz cheese; 1/3 - ½ cup yogurt or cottage cheese; ¼ cup pudding 6 servings; 1 serving = ¼ - ½ slice bread; 1-2 crackers; ¼ cup pasta or rice; ½ cup cereal 2-3 servings; 1 serving = ¼ cup cooked or canned; ½ piece fresh fruit; 1/8 cup dry; ¼ - ½ cup 100% fruit juice  2-3 servings; 1 serving = 1-2tbs 2 servings; 1 serving = 2tbs ground or 2 1”cubes meat, poultry or fish; 1 egg; ¼ cup tofu or cooked beans; 1tbs smooth peanut butter
24 to 36 months

NOTE: at this age, 1 serving is about ¼ an adult portion

2-3 servings; 1 serving = ½ cup whole milk; 1oz cheese; 1/3 - ½ cup yogurt or cottage cheese; ¼ cup pudding 6 servings; 1 serving = ½ slice bread; 1-2 crackers; ¼ -  ½ cup pasta or rice; 1/3 - ½ cup cereal 2-3 servings; 1 serving = ¼ cup cooked or canned; ½ piece fresh fruit; 1/8 cup dry; ¼ - ½ cup 100% fruit juice  2-3 servings; 1 serving = 1-2tbs 2 servings; 1 serving = 2tbs ground or 2 1”cubes meat, poultry or fish; 1 egg; ¼ cup tofu or cooked beans; 1tbs smooth peanut butter

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Comments

  1. avatar marie bustamante says:

    thanks for this article! i was one of the clueless moms when it comes to giving the right amount of food to my kids.

  2. Thanks for this post Rheea! This is very helpful!

  3. Glad to help, Faye and Marie!

  4. Thanks for this, Ree! Got the link at n@w. I’ve been worried lately kasi my little girl is not eating enough rice and protein. Now I have a chart. 🙂

  5. You’re welcome, Chini! Feeding our kids properly really is one of the worrying parts of parenting, no? ;p

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