Pregnancy and baby

Baby and toddler food FAQs

How much sugar and salt should my baby have? (6 to 12 months)

Media last reviewed: 03/03/2015

Next review due: 03/03/2017

What healthy snacks can I give my toddler?

You could try:

  • raw vegetable sticks, such as cucumber and carrots
  • a plain yoghurt with a banana sliced into it
  • a slice of toast with cheese spread, hummus or a slice of ham
  • some crackers, breadsticks or unsalted rice cakes with cheese
  • a bowl of cereal with milk
  • a piece of fruit

What can I pack in a lunchbox for my three-year-old when they go to nursery?

Good sandwich fillings are canned tuna or salmon, hummus, hard or cream cheese, ham or peanut butter (see Advice on peanut allergy).

You could add a few vegetable sticks, such as carrots, peppers or cucumber, to munch on and a container of bite-sized fruit – for example, a peeled satsuma or washed seedless grapes. A box of raisins is fine if eaten at lunchtime. Examples of healthier sweet options include a yoghurt, fromage frais, a scone or a currant bun.

If you include a fromage frais or yoghurt, don’t forget a spoon. A piece of kitchen towel is also useful.

If lunchboxes are not refrigerated at nursery, use an insulated box with an ice pack to keep food safe and cool. You can give milk, water or well-diluted fruit juice in a leak-proof beaker.

Find out more about healthy lunchboxes.

How do I get a relative to stop giving sweets to my child?

Suggest they give a non-edible gift instead, such as a small book or pencil. If your child does have sweets, try keeping them for a special 'treat' day once a week. The number of times that teeth come into contact with sugar has as much of an effect as the amount of sugar eaten. 

Therefore, sweets are best eaten in one go rather than over an hour or two. They will do the least damage to teeth if you keep them for mealtimes. For more information, go to Caring for your child's teeth, or talk to your health visitor.

I’ve heard that high-fibre foods aren’t suitable for young children. Why?

Foods that contain a lot of fibre (such as wholemeal bread and pasta, brown rice and bran-based breakfast cereals) can fill up small tummies, leaving little room for other foods. This means that your child can get full before they’ve taken in the calories they need. Bran also prevents important minerals from being absorbed from the diet. It’s good for your child to try different varieties of starchy foods, but don’t give only wholegrain foods before your child is five years old.

My child will only drink sugary drinks. What can I do?

Frequent sugary drinks increase the chance of tooth decay. See Drinks and cups for a list of suitable drinks. If your child will only drink sugary drinks, it can take some time to break the habit. Start to dilute the drinks with water, increasing the amount of water gradually over time, so that the change isn't too noticeable to them. Or offer them smaller quantities in a beaker at mealtimes.

Am I entitled to any benefits to help me buy healthy food for my child?

If you have children under four, you're pregnant and on benefits, or you’re pregnant and under 18, you may qualify for Healthy Start vouchers.

For more information, visit the Healthy Start website, where you can find out if you qualify for vouchers. If so, you can apply online, or get an application form from your GP surgery, midwife or health visitor. You can also call 0845 607 6823 if you would like one sent to you in the post.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 23/09/2013

Next review due: 23/09/2015


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