Development of healthy eating behaviours during childhood is important as many eating habits initiated in childhood can be lifelong.

“Poor diets in childhood can set the scene for serious health problems in adulthood, including diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease,” says Jasly Koo, Dietitian, from the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, a member of the SingHealth​ group.

From the age of 1, your child will be able to eat the same foods as the rest of the family. It is important to provide a healthy balanced diet with foods from each food g​roup as no single food can provide all the nutrients your child requires. Providing a variety of foods from each food group allows him to obtain different key nutrients, and keeps his meals interesting.

As a general guide, the Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommends:

​Food Groups ​1 Serv​e = Recommended number of servings^ per day
   1-2 years 3-6 years 7-12 years 13-18 years
Brown Rice and Wholemeal Bread
  • 2 slices bread
  • 1/2 bowl ric​​e/ noodles/ pasta
  • ​​2 small chappati
  • 1 thosai
  • 4 plain ​biscuits
  • 1 large potato
2-3 3-4 5-6 6-7
  • 1 small apple/ orange/ pear/ mango
  • 1 wedge pineapple/ orange/ pear/ mango
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • 1 glass fruit juice
  • 10 grapes/ longans
​½ - 1 1 2 2
  • 1/4 plate of cooked vegetables
  • 150g raw leafy vegetables
​½ 1 2 2
Meat and Others
  • 1 palm size meat/ fish/ poultry
  • 2 small blocks soft beancurd
  • 5 medium prawns
  • 3/4 cup pulses e.g. lentils, peas, beans
  • 3 eggs
½ 1 2 2
Dairy foods or calcium containing foods​
  • 2 glasses milk (250ml per glass)
  • 2 slices cheese
1 1​ 1

Setting meal-tim​e exp​ectations for your child​

It is essential to have realistic expectations of the amount of food your child can consume. Expecting him to finish adult portion sizes may be too overwhelming and can lead to force-feeding and meal time battles.

  • For a 1 to 2 year old child, a good guide would be roughly one-fifth to one-quarter of an adult portion at each meal
  • For a 3 to 6 year old child, it would be around one-third to half of an adult portion.

Additionally, for younger children, snacks will be necessary to meet their energy requirements as they have smaller stomach capacities and cannot eat large portions at one time.

How to tel​l if your child is get​ting adequate nutrition​

It is common to see variation ​in portion sizes. Some children may take a smaller portion than others yet still grow as well as others taking a larger portion as energy requirements are influenced by their individual growth requirements and activity levels.

To know if your child is getting adequate nutrition, growth is a quick and simple indicator. You can track your child’s growth by using the Growth Charts provided in your child’s health booklet.

How much a child eats at each meal can also be variable. For example, you may find that your child tends to eat more at lunch than at dinner. Another example is that your child may take a larger than usual lunch today but skips a snack or eat less for dinner. Don’t be stressed if this happens. Children are able to regulate their food intake such that daily energy intake is relatively constant even th​ough their intake at each meal may vary.

​See next page for​​ 4 misconceptions on healthy eating in children​.​​

​​​​Ref: O17