Food Pyramid for Kids

Food pyramids are absolutely essential for any parent that wants to know exactly what to feed their children. We understand how difficult it can be to feel confident when it comes to feeding your young ones, which is why we’ve completely broken down all of the information that you’ll see on a food pyramid for kids while explaining in full what each section means and how the different food types will help your child to grow healthily.

Read on for everything you need to know about using food pyramids to guarantee optimum development for your little ones.

What Is a Kids Food Pyramid?

what is a kids food pyramid? - food pyramid for kids

A kids food pyramid is a chart that takes on a pyramid shape and has different sections. Starting from the bottom, the food types that your child should be consuming more of are featured. As the pyramid goes “up,” the food types that they should be having less of are featured. A good food pyramid will display images of the different food types in each section alongside information about serving sizes and age groups.

The idea of a food pyramid is to make it as simple as possible for parents to understand how much of each food group that their child should be having. This takes the guess work out of trying to figure out exactly what you should be providing your child with each meal.

Though food pyramids serve as excellent visual aids, the information that they provide can vary. In this article, we’ve laid out detailed information in relation to quantities for each age group and what the different food groups do for your child’s body to ensure that no stone has been unturned.

Main Components of Food Pyramid for Children

main components of food pyramid for children - food pyramid for kids

As you may have guessed, the separate sections featured in a chart like this belong to all of the main nutrient groups. Here is an example of the information you should expect to find:

Age & Food Group

This section explains the different age ranges in years in conjunction with the food groups your child should eat daily as part of well-structured weekly or daily nutrition intake.

This section is vital because based on your child’s age, they’re going to need a specific amount of each food group to meet their essential nutritional requirements.

Provided that you follow the guideline quantities stated above in conjunction with consulting with a pediatrician regularly, you’re going to ensure that your child develops healthily.


Meat is an essential protein source and is important for developing skeletal muscle as well as playing an important part in the development of our skin, hair, and nails.

Examples of meat include:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Duck
  • Ham
  • Lamb
  • Goose

Typical meat portion sizes for children are 2-3 ounces per meal.

Certain meats contain unique vitamins and minerals when compared to others therefore you should always aim to regularly rotate the meat types that you serve to your child. Try to ensure that you do not over load your child with red meat as this can have a negative impact on the heart and arteries over time. Moderation is key.

Fish & Seafood

Fish and seafood are vital protein sources as well as containing essential oils to help with the development of our immune and nervous systems. Compared to meat and other proteins, fish also contains some unique essential minerals and vitamins that assist with general functionality and immunity.

Examples of fish and seafood include:

  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Haddock
  • Cod
  • Prawns
  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Swordfish
  • Lobster
  • Crab
  • Halibut
  • Bass

Paediatrician guidelines state that children aged 2 to 8 should consume 3 to 6 ounces of fish per week, whereas children aged 9 and above should consume 8 to 10 ounces per week. As with other protein sources, try to rotate the varieties of fish and seafood that you serve in order to boost your child’s vitamin and mineral intake.


Vegetables are vital for boosting almost every process and function within the human body from energy release to skin repair and sustenance. When your child eats a variety of vegetables, they can access a broad spectrum of micronutrients and minerals.

Typical examples of vegetables are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Potatoes (all types)
  • Parsnips
  • Cauliflower
  • Sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Cucumber
  • Asparagus

One cup is considered to be an average serving size for a child. You should always seek to serve vegetables or fruit with every meal to enhance your child’s intake of essential vitamins and minerals.


Fruit is vital for vitamin and mineral content, healthy digestion, and energy release. Eating a wide variety of fruit throughout the week is the best way to provide your child with access a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals.

Examples of fruit include:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Lemons
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Peaches
  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Limes
  • Mandarins
  • Mangoes

Typical fruit serving sizes for a child would be 1 cup, or a quantity that could fit into the palm of their hand. Fruit is high in naturally occurring sugar, so it’s always a good idea to try to time your child’s fruit intake with periods of physical activity to ensure that their energy levels remain consistent and no crashes occur.


Grains are important for healthy digestion while providing an array of vitamins, proteins, and minerals that are vital for everything from bone, muscle, and skin development to boosting natural immunity.

Within this category you’ll find:

  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Wheat
  • Quinoa
  • Bread
  • Bagels
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • Cereals

Portion sizes for grains should be kept to roughly 1 ounce with every meal. You can also equate this to roughly the size of your child’s fist when it is clenched.

It’s always a good idea to ensure that the majority of your child’s grains are whole grains that have not been processed. This will lock in their nutrient content and ensure that your child reaps as much benefit from eating them as possible.

Milk & Dairy

Milk and dairy is vital for strong bones, teeth, skin, hair, and nails. It is also vital for skeletal development and soft tissue repair and sustenance.

Examples of dairy include:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Cream
  • Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Ice cream

Children aged between 4-8 need 2.5 cups of dairy per day on average, whereas children aged 8 and above require 3. It’s a good idea to provide young children with one cup of milk with every meal to assist with their skeletal growth.


Protein is a vital building block required for skeletal and muscular and soft tissue development. The amino acids it provides also assist with cognitive and brain development and function including enhanced focus, energy levels and alertness.

Serving examples include:

  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • All varieties of seafood
  • Pulses
  • Beans

Typical protein serving sizes for children are two tablespoons with nuts, eggs, nut butters and seeds, and 1 ounce for pulses and beans. Protein sources should be rotated as different meat and protein varieties also come equipped with different supplementary vitamins and minerals.

This will ensure that your child receives the widest range of nutrients possible throughout the week. For meat, fish and dairy guidelines please see the individual sections.

Fats & Oils

Fats and oils are absolutely vital for the development of a healthy immune and nervous system while also assisting with the development of skin cells and soft tissue repair, growth, and hormone regulation.

Examples of this food group include:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Olive oil
  • Eggs
  • Nuts seeds
  • Dairy
  • Margarine
  • Salad dressing
  • Nut butters

Serving sizes for most fat sources would be the equivalent of between 1-2 tablespoons. Fat can lead to anxiety for some parents due to misleading press, but remember that while fat is the most calorie-dense nutrient available, it is still an essential component in balanced nutrition intake and should never be completely avoided.

Age & Food Group Grains Vegetables Fruit Milk & Dairy Protein Fish Meat Fats Oils
2-3 Years
3 ounces per day
1 cup per serving
1 cup per serving
2 cups daily
2 ounces per day
3-6 ounces per week
2 ounces per day
1-2 tablespoons per serving
1-2 tablespoons per serving
4-8 Years
5 ounces per day
1 1/2 cups per serving
1 1/2 cups per serving
2 1/2 cups daily
4 ounces per day (male) 3 ounces per day (female)
3-6 ounces per week
4 ounces per day (male) 3 ounces per day (female
2 tablespoons per serving
2 tablespoons per serving
9-13+ Years
5 ounces per day (female) 6 ounces per day (male)
2 cups per serving (female) 2 1/2 cups per serving (male)
1 1/2 cups per serving(male and female)
3 cups daily
5 ounces per day (male) 4 ounces per day (female)
8-10 ounces per week
5 ounces per day (male) 4 ounces per day (female)
2 tablespoons per serving
2 tablespoons per serving

Fats and Oils in Kid’s Nutrition

fats and oils in kids nutrition - food pyramid for kids

Considering the amount of bad press that fat has received over the years it’s completely understandable that some parents are keen to avoid it when providing their children with a healthy nutrition intake.

The guidelines state that a child under the age of 4 should source roughly 30-35% of their calories from fats, whereas children aged 4 or over should source roughly 25-35% of their calories from them. But with all of the speculation about fat potentially leading to weight gain, should they be avoided altogether?

The reason why an excess fat intake can easily lead to fat gain is because fat is the most calorie dense nutrient per gram when compared to all others. It yields 9 calories per gram whereas carbohydrates and protein only yield 4. However, removing fat isn’t a viable solution.

This is because we need fat to establish an effective immune and nervous system, not to mention the development of healthy skin, hair, and nails. Without it, these areas would not develop and function optimally. Fat is as vital of a nutrient as any other source.

The key is to stick within the above percentage ranges to avoid excess calories as this could indeed lead to excess weight gain.

Fresh vs Frozen Food

fresh vs frozen food - food pyramid for kids

There has always been considerable debate about whether or not it’s safe and viable to freeze food. Not only that, but it can be hard to know whether or not this is going to diminish the nutrient content of the food that you choose to freeze.

Freezing itself is not an issue with the majority of food types. Though the list of “freeze safe” foods is extensive, some of the most common food varieties that it’s completely safe to freeze are:

  • Dairy
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Grains
  • Baked goods (home or store bought)

Some examples of common food types that it isn’t safe to freeze are:

  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Cucumber
  • Cream based sauces or soups
  • Fried products
  • Frosting or icing that has been made with raw egg whites
  • Cooked rice
  • Gelatin
  • Cooked pasta

It’s not so much the freezing of products that’s an issue, but more the circumstances that they are frozen under.

The key is to freeze food at its freshest. This is the most ideal way to preserve all of its nutrient value. In the same way that you should always aim to eat food at its freshest, freezing it at its freshest will ensure that no degradation has started to occur and therefore the full nutrient contents will be accessible.

Effective thawing is also vital. If you don’t allow food to fully defrost before eating then this can alter the integrity of its nutrient content.

Try where possible not to interrupt the natural thawing process with a microwave or through any other means as this can alter the molecular structure of the food and the goodness it contains.

Other than the circumstances mentioned above, there is no proven reason why freezing food isn’t safe or a completely viable means of accessing the vital nutrients that it contains.


Getting meal times right for kids can seem super daunting at first, but hopefully now that you’ve seen the above information, you feel a little more at ease about what serving sizes should look like.

Even though every child is different, it’s hard to get food quantities wrong when using the information contained in a food pyramid. As some pyramids vary concerning the detail they go into, and any time you’re in doubt, simply come back to the information we’ve provided about the separate sections and age groups for further clarification.

Though the information we’ve provided here is based on extensive research, it’s still always a good idea to regularly consult with a paediatrician to ensure that you’re keeping on top of any intolerances/deficiencies that your child may have. Not all food options are viable for all children.

As long as you adhere to the advice provided in today’s post, you’re sure to raise a healthy, happy child.