Nutrition for children

Children and adults have different nutritional requirements. Read this short guide to help you balance your child’s diet and ensure they get all the nutrients they need.
Due to new food labelling laws, we can no longer show Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) on our food and drink products. We are only permitted to display ‘Reference Intakes’ based on how much an adult should consume in a day.These differ to children’s requirements; children under ten years old have lower requirements than adults.

What does my child need?

Mini veggie pizzas

Children need a good supply of energy, protein, calcium, iron and vitamins, including A and D.

What’s a balanced diet?

Which foods are good for…


  • Meat, fish, dairy products, eggs
  • Pulses, beans and soya products.

Why is it important to eat protein?

Calcium: for healthy bones and teeth

  • Milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Soya beans, fortified soya milk, tofu
  • Broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables.

Find out more about calcium

Iron: important for healthy blood

  • Red meat, liver, fish, eggs, chicken
  • Broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables
  • Wholegrains and fortified breakfast cereals
  • Pulses, dried fruit and nuts.

Vitamin A: important for the immune system

  • Whole milk, yogurt, butter, cheese
  • Carrots, tomatoes and dark green vegetables
  • Egg yolks.

Vitamin D: for healthy bones and teeth

  • Oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel
  • Eggs, fortified spreads and fortified breakfast cereals
  • Sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D.

The eatwell plate

NHS Eat Well Plate


  • The eatwell plate, designed for adults and children from five years old, is a handy way to check your child is eating a balanced diet.
  • As well as giving them lots of different foods, always encourage children to try new flavours.

More about the eatwell plate

Children’s salt intake


Children should consume a maximum of 4g of salt a day and toddlers under the age of 3 need as little as 2g – less than half a teaspoon. You’ll find salt in many foods children love, such as bread, cheese, ham and breakfast cereals, so always read the label and don’t add salt to children’s food.

How to read nutritional labels