Get Up and Grow: Healthy foods strong kids 1-5 years

Brochure about keeping kids strong by feeding them healthy foods.

Page last updated: August 2012

Commonwealth of Australia 2012
State of Queensland 2012 (marked photographs only)

Health disclaimer

The information in this publication is for general information only, and must not be used as a substitute for medical advice. You must seek independent professional medical advice before relying on any information contained in this publication.
Readers should be aware that these resources may contain images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are now deceased.

Healthy food helps kids grow strong

Healthy food:

  • helps kids grow healthy and strong
  • can help prevent kids from becoming overweight
  • can help to fight sickness.
At 12 months, kids can eat the same healthy foods that the family eats.

Kids should eat healthy foods every day

‘Everyday foods’ include:

  • plenty of vegetables, beans and lentils
  • fruit
  • breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles (mostly
  • wholegrain), and other grains like oats and barley
  • milk, yoghurt and cheese (mostly reduced fat for kids over 2 years)
  • lean meat such as kangaroo, fish, chicken (without skin), eggs, beans and nuts (but not whole nuts for kids under 3 years).
Most bush tucker is very healthy for kids.

Sometimes foods

‘Sometimes foods’ are high in fat, sugar and salt and are not needed. They can lead to tooth decay and weight gain and leave less room for healthy foods.

Limit sometimes foods to kids. Tell kids they can only have sometimes foods on one day of the week, and in small amounts.

‘Sometimes foods’ are:

  • chocolate, lollies, biscuits and chips
  • pastries, pies and sausage rolls
  • fried foods like chicken and hot chips
  • takeaway and junk food
  • cakes and ice cream
  • juice, soft drinks, cordial and other sweet drinks. Top of page
There is no need to add sugar, salt, honey, butter or margarine to food for babies and kids.

Help kids to enjoy eating healthy foods

  • Talk to kids about the difference between everyday and sometimes foods.
  • Never use food to reward or punish a child – this can lead to unhealthy food habits.

Water is the best healthy drink for our kids

  • Kids don’t need sweet drinks.
  • Make sure kids have plenty of clean water.
  • Give kids water with meals and snacks.

Regular mealtimes give kids energy

  • Kids have small stomachs – they need small meals and healthy snacks.
  • Kids need 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks a day.
  • Kids who eat all the time never learn how it feels to be hungry.

Make meal times fun

  • Give kids new foods to try.
  • Sit down and eat healthy food with your kids.
  • Eating together helps kids learn to share.

Talk to kids about how food helps us grow healthy and strong

All kids need breakfast

  • Breakfast gives kids energy for the day ahead.
  • Missing breakfast can start unhealthy eating habits.
  • Kids who don’t eat breakfast are more likely to be overweight.

Good breakfast food

  • Healthy wholegrain cereals such as wheat biscuits and porridge.
  • Yoghurt and fruit.
  • Baked beans on wholegrain toast.
  • Toast with cheese.
  • Boiled or scrambled eggs.
  • Pikelets with yoghurt and fruit.

Ideas for healthy snacks

  • Wholegrain bread and cereals.
  • Chopped up fruit and vegies.
  • Yoghurt.
  • Raisin toast.
  • Cheese cut into sticks.

Lunchbox ideas

  • Fresh fruit.
  • Boiled eggs.
  • Wholemeal sandwiches, pita wrap or bread roll with:
    • mashed egg and lettuce
    • chicken with cheese and grated carrot
    • cheese
    • lean cold meat, lettuce and tomato
    • mashed banana
    • tuna, corn and lettuce.

Ideas for lunch

  • Soup and a bread roll.
  • Pasta with sauce and cheese.
  • Leftovers from the night before. Top of page
  • Toasted sandwich.
  • Fruit and cheese or yoghurt.

Quick and healthy dinner ideas

  • Soup – chicken, pea and ham, pumpkin and lentil.
  • Eggs – scrambled, boiled or omelettes.
  • Baked potatoes with tuna, baked beans or cheese toppings.
  • Pasta with vegetables or tuna.
  • Sweet potato and chick pea patties,
  • tuna and corn patties.
  • Stir fry beef and vegetables.
  • Curries or stew with rice.
  • Salads.
  • ‘No added salt’ baked beans.
  • Cheese on toast.

Celebration food

  • Try to have healthy food for all celebrations.
  • If you have ‘sometimes foods’ like cakes and ice cream, try to limit the serve size.
  • Try offering a plate of fruit to have with sometimes foods.

Fussy eaters

  • Kids can be fussy eaters when they are sick or tired.
  • Kids may refuse to eat if they have too much food on their plate or if they have filled up on drinks or snacks before meals.
  • Limit drinks or snacks between meals.
  • Set a limit of 30 minutes for a meal.
  • Take away the uneaten food and never force a child to eat.
  • Re-offer foods that have been refused – it may take up to 10 times before it is accepted.
  • Allow the child to decide how much they want to eat.

Food allergies

  • Food allergies can make kids very sick.
  • The most common foods that kids under 5 are allergic to are: cow’s milk, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, sesame, fish and shellfish.

Food allergies can cause:

  • hives and rashes
  • swelling of the lips, tongue or mouth
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • trouble breathing, which can cause loss of consciousness, injury or even death.

Food intolerance

  • Food intolerance is not as bad as an allergy and takes more food to make kids sick.
  • Kids can get headaches, skin rashes and stomach upsets.
If your kids have allergies or intolerances, tell your childcare educator.

Keeping food safe

  • Babies and kids are at more risk of sickness from spoiled food.
  • This is because their immune systems are still developing.
  • Food can be spoiled by many things — hair, chemicals, cleaning products, pests and bacteria.

Food poisoning

  • Bacteria are in most foods but are not always bad for you.
  • Some bacteria can cause food poisoning and make you very sick.
  • Kids may have nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.
  • Food poisoning is very serious in babies and kids because they dehydrate and lose fluids quickly.


  • Gastro-enteritis is mainly caused by a viral sickness passed between people.
  • Washing hands and keeping food safe will help to stop the spread of viral gastro-enteritis.

High-risk foods

These foods can be spoiled easily:

Top of page
  • milk, meat and fish
  • meals made from milk, meat or fish
  • cooked rice.
Canned food is safe as long as the can is sealed. Once the can is opened it becomes a high-risk food.

Serving food safely

  • Make sure all kids and adults wash their hands before making or eating food.
  • Store all high-risk food in the fridge and make sure it is covered.
  • Keep kitchen areas clean.
  • Do not re-heat cooked food more than once.
  • Throw away any food that has been out of the fridge for more than 2 hours.
  • Wash knives and boards used to cut uncooked meat and fish very well before using with other foods.

Keeping kids safe

Kids helping in the kitchen

  • Make sure kids always wash their hands before touching food.
  • Be careful with sharp knives and hot surfaces.
  • Always watch kids in the kitchen.

Keep kids safe from choking

  • Babies and young kids are learning how to eat – keep an eye on them.
  • Kids should sit down when eating.
  • Grate, cook, finely slice or mash apples, carrots andother hard fruits and vegies.
  • Young kids (under 3) should not eat whole nuts, popcorn or hard foods.
  • Never force a child to eat.
  • Never leave a baby alone with a bottle.
  • Kids need an adult around when they are eating.

Information and help