The recommended dietary patterns for infants and toddlers

Infant eating solid food for the first time.

These dietary patterns are a guide only, as the needs of each individual infant or toddler may vary. For all infants, recommended nutrient intakes are based on the nutrient profile of breast milk for infants up to 6 months and on estimates of the nutrients provided by breast milk or formula and complementary foods for infants 6–12 months of age.  Assessing whether growth and development is appropriate will help to determine whether dietary intake is adequate or excessive for the individual child.

For infants;

The recommended dietary patterns for infants up to around 6 months

It is recommended that infants should be exclusively breastfed for around 6 months. If this is not possible, commercial infant formula should be used. Exclusive feeding means that infants are given breast milk and nothing else during this time. Exclusively breastfed infants do not require additional fluids up to 6 months of age. For formula-fed infants, cooled boiled tap water may be used if additional fluids are needed.  Any breastfeeding at all is beneficial.

The recommended dietary patterns for infants from 6–12 months

Breastfeeding should continue until the baby is 12 months old, or for as long as the mother and infant desire. If formula-fed, the infant should continue to drink formula until 12 months of age.

From around 6 months, small amounts of cooled boiled water can supplement breast milk or infant formula. Consuming any other drinks in the first 12 months may interfere with an infant’s intake of breast milk or infant formula and is not recommended.

The introduction of first foods should begin around 6 months, starting with iron-fortified infant cereal and/or iron-rich foods such as puréed meat or tofu, followed by other foods from the Five Food Groups. Introduce different tastes and textures as the baby grows.

Cow’s milk should not be given as the main drink to infants under 12 months of age. Cows’ milk may be served in small quantities in foods, with cereals, and as plain custards without added sugars.

By 12 months of age, infants should be consuming a wide variety of nutritious foods enjoyed by the rest of the family. All milk given to children over 12 months should be pasteurized.

The recommended dietary patterns for infants aged 7–12 months are shown in the table below. While it is recommended to introduce solid foods from around 6 months of age, it may take around a month to reach the ranges outlined in the second table below.

Sample daily food patterns for infants aged 7–12 months

FoodServe sizeServes a dayServes a week.
 Vegetable and legumes/beans20 grams1 ½ - 210 - 14
Fruits20 grams½3 -4
Grain (cereal) foods, Infant cereals (dried)40 grams bread equivalent, 20 gram respectively1 ½, 110, 7
Lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, eggs30 grams17
Breast milk or formula, Yogurt/cheese or alternatives20 ml yogurt or 10-gram cheese1, ½7, 3 - 4

Note: An allowance for unsaturated spreads or oils or nut/seed paste of ½ serve (4–15g) per day is included, however, whole nuts and seeds are not recommended at this age because they may cause choking.

For toddlers;

The recommended dietary patterns for toddlers 1 to 2 years of age

The recommended dietary patterns for toddlers aged around 1–2 years are shown in the table below.  There may be some variations in nutritional needs due to different activity levels, however, the table below provides a general guide for children at this age. Appropriate growth and development will also indicate whether food intake is at an appropriate overall level for an individual child.

Foods with a high risk of choking such as whole nuts, seeds, raw carrot, celery sticks and chunks of apple should be avoided for the first 3 years as their size and/or consistency increases the risk of inhalation and choking. However, nut pastes and nut spreads can be offered to infants from around 6 months of age.

Sample daily food patterns for toddlers

FoodServe sizeServes a day. 
Vegetables and legumes/beans75g2 - 3
Grain (cereal) foods40g bread equivalent4
Lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, eggs, legumes65g1
Milk, yogurt, cheese and/or alternatives250g milk equivalent1-1½

Note: An allowance for unsaturated spreads or oils or nut/seed paste of 1 serve (7–10g) per day is included. Whole nuts and seeds are not recommended for children of this age because of the potential choking risk.

Supporting mothers

Many mothers need support from their partners, family, friends and the broader community to assist them to breastfeed their babies, particularly during the first six months.

It is important for new mothers to eat well when they are breastfeeding. New mothers may be dealing with a lack of sleep as well as extra nutrient needs.

Public spaces like shopping centers and restaurants and workplaces can support breastfeeding mothers by providing facilities for their use. Breastfeeding should be promoted as being the natural, normal and healthy way to feed infants. However, support should be provided to all mothers, no matter what feeding choices they make for their babies.

Child health nurses, lactation consultants, doctors, and other health professionals can provide help if mothers and families are having problems with infant feeding.
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