Food Foundations

Australian Dietary Guidelines 0 – 5 years

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Healthy Eating for 1 – 5 years

By providing your child with the recommended amounts from the Five Food Groups and limiting the food’s that are high in saturated fat, added sugars, and added salt; they will get enough of the nutrients essential for good health, growth and development.

Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain

  • Foods from this group provide fibre, vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates and protein which are all important for energy, growth and repair of the body
  • Wholegrain varieties provide more fibre, vitamins and minerals than refined foods
  • Instead of choosing most serves as bread and breakfast cereal, also try to  include rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, cous cous, bulghur, oats, quinoa
  • When choosing breads, eat a wide variety including white, brown, wholegrain, mixed grain, rye and rolls, pita breads and other flat breads

One Serve = 1 slice bread, ½ cup cooked rice/pasta/noodles, ¼ cup muesli, 3 crispbreads

Children under five years of age require 4 serves per day


  • Fruit is a rich source of vitamins, including vitamin C and folate. Fruit also provides carbohydrates, antioxidants and fibre
  • Choose fresh fruit more often than juice, as it is higher in fibre. Dried fruit is nutritious and adds variety to a healthy diet, but its stickiness can contribute to tooth decay
  • Canned fruit can be used as a nutritious replacement for fresh fruit, especially those varieties that are canned in natural juice or without added sugar
  • For children 1 – 5 years dilute 100% juice 50:50 with water

One Serve = 1 piece of medium sized fruit e.g. apple, orange, banana; 2 pieces smaller fruit e.g. plums, kiwi; 30g dried fruit or 125ml fruit juice (no added sugar)

Children under five years of age require ½ to 1-½ serves per day


  • Choose a wide variety of vegetables from week to week. Buy vegetables in season as these are the best value for money
  • Use frozen and canned vegetables as an alternative to fresh. They are nutritious, often cheaper, quick and easy to prepare, easily stored and available in remote areas

One Serve = ½ cup cooked green or orange vegetables, ½ cup cooked dried or canned beans, 1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables

Children under five years of age require 2 ½ to 4 ½ serves per day 


Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans

  • This food group provides a good source of protein, iron, zinc and B group vitamins. Iron carries oxygen in the blood and zinc assists the healing of wounds and in growth and development
  • Choose a variety of meats and fish including beef, lamb, pork, kangaroo, chicken, turkey, duck, fish and shellfish. Choose lean meats and avoid frying or roasting in fat and oil
  • If you are vegetarian or vegan, choose foods such as tofu, legumes, nuts and seeds from this group and choose wholegrain or wholemeal bread and cereals, as these foods are good sources of iron and zinc

One Serve = 65 cooked lean red meats such as beef, lamb, veal, pork, goat or kangaroo, 80g cooked lean poultry such as chicken, 100g cooked fish fillet, 2 large eggs, 1 cup cooked or canned legumes/beans, 170g tofu

Children under five years of age require 1 – 1 ½ serves per day

Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives

  • Foods in this group are an excellent source of calcium for healthy bones and teeth. These foods are also a good source of protein, riboflavin and vitamin B12
  • If you don’t like drinking milk or eating yogurt and cheese, add milk or milk powder to soups, casseroles and sauces, add cheese to omelettes and vegetable dishes and use yoghurt with curries and in dips
  • If you do not eat any foods from this group, include other foods such as sardines, tuna, salmon, calcium-fortified soy milk, lentils, almonds, brazil nuts and dried apricots as they also provide smaller amounts of calcium

One Serve = 250ml glass of milk or soymilk; 2 slices of cheese (40g); 200g of yoghurt

Children under five years of age require 1 – 2 serves per day

Healthy Eating for 7 – 12 months Olds

It is recommended that infants should be exclusively breastfed until around 6 months of age. If this is not possible, then infant formula should be used.

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 7-12 months of age.

Introduce first foods around 6 months, starting with iron-fortified infant cereal and/or iron rich foods such as pureed meat, followed by other foods from the Five Food groups.

A sample daily food pattern for infants aged 7-12 months is shown in the table below. This is a guide only as individual needs may vary. As you would expect, infants progressively increase the volume and variety of foods they eat during 7 – 12 months of age. Appropriate growth and development will help indicate whether food intake is at a suitable overall level for each individual infant.

Some serve sizes have been adjusted to account for the small amounts that may be consumed by infants at any one time, while common foods for this age group such as infant cereal have been included. Regular growth checks by a child health professional are encouraged.

Food Serve Size Serves a Day Serves a Week
Vegetables/beans/legumes 20g 1 ½ 10-14
Fruit 20g ½ 3-4
Grain (cereal) foods 40g bread equivalent 1 ½ 10
Infant cereal (dried) 20g 1 7
Lean meats 30g 1 7
Breast milk/formula 600ml 1 7
Yoghurt/cheese 20ml yoghurt/ 10g cheese ½ 3-4


The information in this article is used by permission of the National Health and Medical Research Council. 

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