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Health TipsRecipe

Creating Balance: How to Balance Your Child’s Plate for Optimal Nutrition and Health

By 02/05/2016May 23rd, 2017No Comments

Just like our own diets, when it comes to feeding your child, balance is of uttermost importance! Balance in terms of nutrition means including a source of each macronutrient at every meal and snack. Having a healthy balance is the best way to make sure your child’s nutritional needs are being met and they are eating a wide variety of foods daily. To break this down, I am talking about:



  • Carbohydrates are important for energy production, growth and offer a concentrated supply of B vitamins and other minerals.
  • Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, the preferred and primary source of energy for the brain. The brain requires a supply of 100mg/min of glucose in adulthood and approximately twice as much in childhood!


How much does my child need?

  • 0-12 months 60-95g/day
  • There is no set recommended carbohydrate intake for over 12 months. However, usually 50-60% of overall energy intake should be from wholegrain complex carbohydrates.


Portions (approx)

  • 1 cup of cooked rice has 60g carbs
  • 1 banana has 20g carbohydrates
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa has 40g carbs
  • ½ cup raw rolled oats has 35g carbs


Protein (amino acids)

  • Protein is critical for growth, development and repair of muscles, organs, glands and cells; essential amino acids must be consumed in the diet.


How much does my child need?

Individual needs will vary but generally the set requirements are:

  • 0-12 months 1.43g-1.60g/kg of body weight
  • 1-3 years 1.08g/kg body weight
  • 4-8 years 0.91g/kg body weight
  • 9-13 years 0.94g/kg (males) and 0.87g/kg (females)


Portions (approx)

  • 1 cup of milk has 10g protein
  • 200g tub yoghurt has 12g protein
  • 1 cup of lentils has 14g protein
  • 1 egg has 6g protein
  • 1 palm size piece of meat has 20-30g protein


Healthy Fats

  • The human brain is nearly 60% fat and one of the most abundant types of fats in the brain is omega-3 DHA.
  • The nervous system also relies on an adequate intake of fats.


How much does my child need?

  • 0-12 months approx. 30g total fat per day
  • 1-3 years 40mg total omega-3 polyunsaturated fats
  • 4-8 years 55mg total omega-3 polyunsaturated fats
  • 9-13 years 70mg total omega-3 polyunsaturated fats


Portions (approx)

  • ½ cup avocado 25g fat
  • 1 tbsp olive oil has 16g fat
  • 1 egg has 4.5g fat


Omega- 3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids

  • 100g tofu 0.5g PUFA’s
  • 10g chia seeds 1.9g PUFA’s
  • 1 x 105g can salmon 1,315mg omega-3
  • 2 eggs 80mg omega-3



Putting it all together on the One Plate


To show you how to optimally balance your child’s plate here are some meal ideas using the information above, each meal contains a source of carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat:





  • Rafferty’s Garden Beef with Vegetables and Basmati Rice Baby mash – contains a healthy source of protein, fats and carbohydrates
  • Salmon and vegetable frittata with mashed sweet potato



  • 1 serve of roast lamb with roasted vegetables (potato, eggplant, capsicum, pumpkin) and home-made pesto dressing
  • Chicken, tofu and brown rice noodle stir-fry





Here is my recipe all children will love for a super yummy avocado pesto rich in good fats and protein:





Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (AGDHA) 2005, Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, Australian Government.