The early years of a child’s life are when dietary habits are formed so it’s a good time to start them on a healthy path.
Your child’s energy and nutrient needs will vary depending on factors such as their gender, age, body size and activity levels while the amounts and types of food they eat may also need to be tailored to their particular stage of development.
For this reason, the Department of Health provides a different Food Pyramid and healthy eating guidance for children aged 1-4 years and for children aged 5 and over.
In Ireland we use the Food Pyramid as a guide to choosing a healthy diet. It categorises food into groups depending on the main nutrients they contain and gives guidelines on the number of serving to be eaten daily from each group. The Food Pyramid has six food groups, but only the bottom five food groups are needed each day for good health.
As a basic rule, offer your child 3 meals and 2 to 3 healthy snacks each day. Remember it is important that your child eats according to their own growth, appetite and activity levels so also be guided by your child’s appetite to decide how much to give them.