The Toddler Serving Size of Grains

Boy eating breakfast
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Giving your toddler the right serving size of grains (as well as the right type of grains) is an important part of ensuring an overall healthy diet. Whole-grain foods are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Even grains in which most of the nutrients have been removed during milling will have had most of the important nutrients added back in after processing.

You may know that current research studies suggest that fiber may offer protection against a number of diseases, including heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes in adults. However, the greatest benefits of fiber for toddlers have to do with ... well, poop! Toddlers need lots of regularly occurring, easy-to-pass bowel movements during potty training.

Good Sources of Grains

It's easy for your toddler to consume too many servings of grains over the course of the day. If, for example, your toddler has a half-cup of brown rice, some crackers or a tortilla, and a piece of toast, they have met their daily grain needs. Toddlers who eat large portions of particular foods, including macaroni and cheese, pizza, and breaded chicken nuggets, will max out their grain requirement quickly and possibly exceed it.

In general, your toddler needs 3 ounces of grains per day, which can come in the form of the following foods (each item listed is equivalent to one ounce of grains): 

  • 1 whole-grain mini bagel
  • 1 2-inch refined grain biscuit
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread
  • 5 whole-wheat crackers
  • 7 refined grain crackers
  • 1/2 English muffin
  • 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
  • 1 packet instant oatmeal
  • 1 4-inch whole-grain pancake
  • 2 3-inch refined grain pancakes
  • 1 cup whole-grain cereal flakes or Os
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown or wild rice
  • 1 ounce uncooked white rice
  • 1/2 cup cooked whole-grain pasta
  • 1 ounce uncooked refined-grain pasta
  • 1 6-inch whole-grain tortilla

The Right Type of Grains

Foods should be made with whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice. By substituting whole-grain pasta for the refined-grain pasta in macaroni and cheese, you'll get the benefits of more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. And, whole grains fill up your little one quickly so you can serve smaller portions and leave more room for other, more nutritious foods.

Your child may eat two or three times more refined-grain pasta than whole-wheat pasta. Barilla whole-wheat pasta is made with 51% whole grains. It doesn't take much longer to cook than pasta made with refined grains. Eden Foods also makes a line of whole-wheat pasta that uses 60% whole grains and tastes great. You might be surprised by what your child will like.

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  1. Reynolds A, Mann J, Cummings J, Winter N, Mete E, Te Morenga L. Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Lancet. 2019;393(10170):434-445. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31809-9