What to eat

By the age of 2 years, children need a diet pretty similar to that of adults. They just need less of it!

To help children eat the amount that is right for them, see the “how to eat” page. It is also important to help children have a healthy body image

To understand what to eat, you can divide foods into “everyday” foods and “sometimes” foods. This page is about “everyday” foods. To find out about “sometimes” foods, click here

To find out about the effects of food on mood and behaviour to information about diet and teeth or constipation, please go to the Food FAQs page

“Everyday” foods

These fall into four groups. We need nutrients from each of these:



Potatoes & grains (breads, porridge, oatcakes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta


We need these several times a day for fibre and energy

Fruit and Veg


Fruit and Vegetables
Fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. Also pulses.


We need these several times a day for vitamins and fibre

Dairy foods


Milk, cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais. Also plant based milks that are calcium fortified.


Children need these daily for growth, strong bones and teeth.



Fish & seafood; beans, nut and lentils; meat and eggs


We need protein daily. Try for fish twice a week, and limit processed meat like sausages, ham and bacon

What about fat?

There is no need to be scared of fats or oils. We need some fat in our diet and it can improve flavour. So you’ll be adding oils or fats such as olive oil, vegetable oil, spreads and butter to some meals.

Use the amount you think is needed. There is no need to buy specially labelled “low fat foods” for pre-school children

More information?

If you want to read more about some of the key nutrients we need for health and wellbeing, please follow this link