Healthy Diet and Nutrient Recommendations for Toddlers


It is recommended by the Ministry of Health (MOH) that your child eats three meals per day, plus snacks in between, made from a variety of nutritious foods.

Each day, you should offer your child foods from each of the following major food groups:

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Breads and cereals, including some wholemeal
  • Milk and milk products, or suitable alternatives
  • Lean meat, poultry, seafood
  • Legumes, nuts and seeds (do not give large nuts and seeds until your child is five years old as these can be a choking hazard)

Your toddler also needs to stay well hydrated with plenty of liquids each day, such as water, breast milk or cows’ milk. Do not give your child alcohol, caffeinated drinks (like coffee, tea, herbal teas, or other drinks), cordial, juice or soft drinks.

By one year of age, your toddler should be eating the same foods as their whānau. Make sure their food is cut appropriately and that you’re mindful of the following choking hazards for children under five years old:

  • Small hard foods like large nuts and seeds
  • Raw carrot, apple and celery
  • Small round foods like grapes, cherry tomatoes and berries (must be cut into quarters)
  • Unpopped popcorn husks
  • Hard dried fruit
  • Fruit with stones or large pips
  • Foods with skins or leaves that are hard to chew like sausages, lettuce and nectarines
  • Lollies or sweets


  • Wholemeal bread can be a source of carbohydrate and dietary fibre.
  • Ensure your child is getting their recommended daily amount of iron: 9mg per day. For reference, there is about 1mg of iron in two large egg yolks.
  • It’s recommended to gradually introduce foods to your toddler that contain iodine, such as seafood, milk, eggs, some cereals and commercially-made breads.
  • Offer your child foods that are good sources of selenium, such as fish and other seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and milk products, and bread.
  • To ensure your child has enough vitamin D, they should have daily and appropriate exposure to sunlight. See Sun Safety Advice for Toddlers for further advice on sun safety.
  • Toddlers generally do not need to take supplements. The best way for them to get enough nutrients for their growing bodies is through a healthy well-balanced diet.


  • Do not give your child alcohol, caffeinated drinks (like coffee, tea, herbal teas, or other drinks), cordial, juice or soft drinks.
  • Avoid giving your child high-fat and high-sugar foods (like chips, lollies and ice cream) every day. These should be ‘treat’ foods. Children who eat too much of these foods tend to eat less healthy foods. Sweet foods also aren’t healthy for your child’s teeth.



Just like adults, children come in a variation of healthy shapes, sizes, heights and weights. Healthy weight gain is a good sign that your toddler is getting what they need nutritionally. It’s important to check that your toddler is growing normally by visiting your Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse for a check-up.