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Serving Sizes for Toddlers

A toddler’s energy requirements are not very large. Here’s a general guide for feeding your toddler. Each day, a child between ages 1 and 3 years needs about 40 calories for every inch of height. This means, for example, that a toddler who measures 32 inches should be taking in an average of about 1,300 calories a day, but the amount varies with each child’s build and activity level. The child’s serving size should be approximately one-quarter of an adult’s. For example, here’s an average toddler-sized meal.

  • One ounce of meat, or 2 to 3 tablespoons of beans
  • One to 2 tablespoons of vegetable
  • One to 2 tablespoons of fruit
  • One-quarter slice of bread

Your toddler will get enough calories along with all the protein, vitamins, and minerals he needs from an average daily intake similar to the following:

Average Daily Intake for a Toddler


 Food Group

Servings Per Day

Number of Calories Per Day 

 One Serving Equals

Grains 6 servings 250 calories  Bread, ¼ to ½ slice
Cereal, rice, pasta, cooked,
4 tablespoons
Cereal, dry, ¼ cup
Crackers, 1 to 2 
Vegetables 2 to 3 servings 75 calories Vegetables, cooked
1 tablespoon for each year of age 
Fruits 2 to 3 servings 75 calories  Fruit, cooked or canned, ¼ cup
Fruit, fresh, ½ piece
Juice, ¼ to ½ cup (2-4 oz)
Dairy 2 to 3 servings  300-450 calories Milk, ½ cup
Cheese, ½ oz (1-inch cube)
Yogurt, 1/3 cup
Protein group: meat, fish, poultry, tofu 2 servings 200 calories 1 oz (equal to two 1-inch cubes of solid meat or 2 tablespoons of ground meat)
Egg, ½ any size, yolk and white
Legumes: dried beans, peas, lentils 2 servings 200 calories Soaked and cooked, 2 tablespoons (1/8 cup)
Peanut butter (smooth only) 95 calories 1 tablespoon spread thin on bread, toast, or cracker


Last Updated
Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics 2011)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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