How Much Should My Toddler Be Eating?


How much should your toddler be eating? Let’s start by saying most toddlers are amazing at self-regulating.

Children are the best judges for when they are full. You might be wondering how that can be. It’s built in. Just think about all those times your child told you he was hungry as a newborns.

It’s important for young children to learn their own body cues and listen to when their bodies tell them they are full. This is one of the most important skills a child can learn and it will last them a lifetime.

Check Out These Other Great Resources:

Children Who Do Not Learn to Self-Regulate Can Become Overweight

Children who do not learn how to self-regulate at an early age can become overeaters later in life and may struggle with being overweight. So, it is important for you NOT to ask your hcild to take another bite after your child signals he or she is done. It’s natural to try to coax your child to eat one more bite of broccoli, but do your best to let him tell you when he is done.

If you are dealing with a picky eater that isn’t eating much, visit our resource guide on picky eating.  If you feel your child hasn’t eaten enough, check out if my child is an under-eater how to help him or her eat more of the right foods.

Parents and toddlers have their own jobs when it comes to eating. Your job as the parent is to provide healthy mealtime options and it is your toddler’s job to pick the food he likes from your options and eat as much food as he needs. Yes, at this young age, children also have a job 😉

Offer a Safe Food at Every Meal

That is why it’s important to provide a few options at dinnertime, so if one food seems intimidating, he has at least have one safe food that he will eat. This is so important! Always have one healthy safe food on the table.

Experts will caution parents not to focus on how much a child eats, but what a child eats. If your child is eating nutritious foods throughout the day than the volume isn’t as important. If your child is only eating foods that have little to no nutritional value like Fresh fries, pretzels, crackers, and even chicken nuggets. I know! Check out our superfoods recipe article on how to add more nutrition to the foods your child is already eating. Also, check out all of our healthy recipes.

Add Flavor to Your Meals

Even toddlers don’t like bland food. Check out how to add spice and flavor to your food 

How Much Should My Toddler Be Eating?

Toddlers need about 40 calories for every inch of height, per day. The calories can also vary based on your toddler’s activity level.

Another way to look at it is a tablespoon of each of the four food groups for each year of age. If your toddler is about 12 months old, then he would eat about four tablespoons of food per meal which would include a protein, grain, vegetable and fruit. By age two, that would double, and so on. Additionally, toddlers will have their milk, which is a good source of protein and fat.

If your little one isn’t a great eater, then try to offer milk after the meal and don’t allow them to snack on-demand.

Not sure how much milk your toddler should be drinking? A child who drinks too much milk will generally not eat enough calories.

Are you worried your toddler is eating too much?

Or the reverse, are you worried your toddler is NOT eating enough?

The Government Has A Great Resource To Figure Out How Much A Child Should Be Eating By Age.

I selected a 2 year old boy. Visit the website to plug in your child’s specifics:

Eat these amounts from each food group daily. This plan is a 1000 calorie food pattern. It is based on average needs for someone like you. (A 2 year old male, of average height, of average weight, physically active more than 60 minutes.) Your food needs also depend on your rate of growth and other factors. See a health care provider who can track your height and weight over time to identify your specific needs.

 Grains 3 ounces tips
 Vegetables 1 cup tips
 Fruits 1 cup tips
 Dairy 2 cups tips
 Protein Foods 2 ounces tips
1 Make Half Your Grains Whole
Aim for at least 1.5 ounces of whole grains a day
2 Vary Your Veggies
Aim for this much every week:Dark Green Vegetables = 0.5 cups weekly
Orange Vegetables = 2.5 cups weekly
Dry Beans & Peas = 0.5 cups weekly
Starchy Vegetables = 2 cups weekly
Other Vegetables = 1.5 cups weekly


Oils & Empty Calories

Aim for 3 teaspoons of oils a day.  Limit your empty calories (extra fats & sugars) to 140 Calories.

Here is another way to look at the Average Daily Intake for a Toddler by the American Academy of Pediatrics 


The information on this website is designed for educational and/or entertainment purposes only. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns regarding your child’s condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses.

Last Updated: 12/2/2014

Source: Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics 2011)