Nicole Bando | Dietitian & Lactation Consultant

Nicole Bando Family Dietitian and Lactation Consultant Logo


Search by typing & pressing enter

Search by typing & pressing enter

Search by typing & pressing enter

Nutrition and Breastfeeding Articles

‘It is hard to know what to believe with so much conflicting nutrition
information. ​I provide you with the latest evidence-based facts.’


Fruit: how much a day?

Fruit contains vital nutrients including fibre, slow release carbohydrates, and myriad vitamins, minerals, plant nutrients & antioxidants (prevent damage to cells). The amount of fruit an individual needs depends on their age and stage. The type of sugar found in fruit is generally slow release energy and different to the free sugar added to processed foods, making it an excellent component of the daily diet. Leave the skin on for added fibre, to assist regular bowels and happy gut bacteria. Choose a variety of fresh, frozen or canned in juice. Watch out for products such as fruit straps, stringers & puffs as they tend to be high in fruit puree, concentrates & added ingredients, making them high sugar, low nutrient options.

What is a serve of fruit?

–  1 medium apple, banana, etc.

–  1 cup of canned fruit in juice

–  2 small stone fruit or kiwi

–  30g dried fruit = 4 dried apricots halves, 1 ½ tb of sultanas (include dried fruit occasionally, around once per week).

So how much does a child or adult need per day?

–   1-2 years: ½ serve = e.g. ½ medium apple, ½ cup canned fruit or 1 small apricot

–   2-3 years: 1 serve = e.g. 1 medium apple, 1 cup of canned fruit or 2 small apricots

–   4-8 years: 1 ½ serves = e.g. 1 apple & ½ cup strawberries,

–   9-18+ years: 2 = e.g. 2 medium apple/banana, etc. or 4 small apricots/kiwi/plums.

Aim to mix up the variety of fruit across the day and week. For example, a 4 year old may have 1 medium apple, and 1 small apricot to reach 1 ½ serves.

If your child loves fruit and is eating more than is recommended, it may mean they are missing out on other foods from the core food groups. Also, excessive fruit can lead to tummy upsets, due to the overload of fructose (this does not mean they are fructose intolerant). Try these alternative healthy snacks:

  • Vegetable sticks e.g. carrot, cucumber and celery with dips
  • Corn on the cob
  • Boiled eggs
  • Cheese on crackers
  • Yoghurt
  • Nuts (if older than 5 years)
  • Snack size canned chickpeas and edamame
  • Popcorn (if older than 5 years)

See our article on Healthy Lunchboxes for other healthy snack ideas:

Eat for Health. Recommended number of serves for children adolescents and toddlers. 2015. Available at

By Emma McShane, Dietitian, edited by Nicole Bando, APD

Children, water and other drinks:

Water is essential for our body’s vital functions; to maintain healthy cells, eliminate by-products and excess electrolytes (salts), regulate body temperature, aid digestion and more. In a child over 12 months, it is the first choice of fluid. Many drinks (other than milk and water) contain sugar (or artificial sweeteners), colourings and limited nutrients. These drinks can impact healthy growth and reinforce a preference for sweet foods. Why not try to flavour water with mint leaves, frozen fruit pieces, orange or lemon rind?

Are sugar free drinks ok?
Sugar free drinks contain large amounts of artificial sweeteners, colours and flavouring to substitute the sugar. They are not a great choice for children as can promote preference for sweet foods. Carbonated drinks are acidic and can erode tooth enamel.

Is fizzy water ok?
Fizzy water is recommended in small amounts, as the bubbles can cause tummy upset. Research has also shown that excessive sparkling water can erode tooth enamel.

What about juice?
Consume in small amounts, for a child this may mean ½-1 glass occasionally. The sugar content of juices is high, as it can take 4 pieces of fruit to make 1 cup of juice! Juicing removes vital components of fruits and vegetables, such as fibre which is important for our bowels and stomach health. When making juice, use 1 piece of fruit and add vegetables such as carrot, celery, cucumber, spinach etc.

Are probiotic drinks ok?
Kefir is a great example of a healthy probiotic drink for children and adults. It’s a great source of Vitamins A, D, protein and calcium. Alternative, high sugar probiotic drinks on the market are not recommended for children.

Smoothie recipe:

Smoothies can be a good way and versatile way to use up fruit and vegetables in your fridge, and cook with your child. Try using this structure to make a smoothie for 1:

  1. Liquid base – e.g. 1 cup milk/alternatives (e.g. soy milk with added calcium)
  2. Add 1 piece of fruit, try frozen for a creamy consistency.
  3. Vegetables – add in 1-2 vegetables such as spinach
  4. Flavour – add a teaspoon of nut butter, cinnamon or 1 tb of cacao.
  5. Extras: 1 tb chia seeds, 2 tb of yoghurt or 2 tb of oats will boost the nutrition of the smoothie.
  6. Add a handful of ice.
  7. Blend and enjoy!!

By Emma McShane, Dietitian, edited by Nicole Bando (APD & IBCLC)

Kids & dairy; how much?

Dairy foods naturally contain 10 essential nutrients including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, carbohydrate, protein, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and zinc, essential healthy blood and immune systems, eyesight, muscle and nerve function, skin, energy, growth and repair. Unless you have an allergy or intolerance, or prefer to avoid dairy for personal reasons, it is a great source of nutrition that is vital for strong & growing bones at every life stage.

1 serve equals:
1 cup (250mL) of dairy milk or milk alternative (with 120mg of added calcium per 100mL) ½ cup (125mL) of evaporated milk 2 slices hard cheese (40g) ½ cup (120g) ricotta cheese ¾ cup (200g) yoghurt
Non-dairy alternatives:
100g almonds/almond butter 60g sardines ½ cup canned salmon with bones 100g firm tofu – may differ between brands
The transition from breast or bottle to dairy can feel confusing. It may be surprising to know that not every feed needs to be replaced with dairy. See below for children’s dairy needs:
1-2 years: 1- 1 ½
2-3 years: 1 ½
4-8 years: boys 2, girls 1.5
9-11 years: 2.5, girls 3
12-13 years: all 3.5
14-18 years: all 3.5

E.g. For a 2-3 year old, this equals ½ a cup of yoghurt, 1 slice of cheese and ½ cup of milk spread over the day. Remember that under 12 months, milk cannot be given as a drink. For more information about toddlers & dairy, see this article. Try to include natural yoghurts, with added fresh fruit & avoid high sugar options, such as flavoured milks, yoghurts and toddler milks. Children under 2 years require full cream milk and thereafter may switch to reduced fat.

Milk alternatives & fortification:
If a child is allergic to dairy choose an alternative milk that is fortified with calcium, for growth, healthy bones and teeth. Look for plant milks that contain 120mg of calcium per 100mL. Not all plant milks are created equal (with a large variation in carbohydrate, protein, vitamin & mineral content), so seek additional advice if needed. See our article; ‘Alternative Calcium sources if you can’t have dairy’ for recommended brands and this comparison of plant milks.

If your child is breastfed beyond 12 months, aim to incorporate dairy a couple of times per day. Breastmilk is also a good source of calcium.

Eat for Health. Recommended number of serves for children adolescents and toddlers. 2015. Accessed 22nd September 2022. Available at

Nutrition Australia. Dairy foods – how much is enough?. July 2021. Accessed 22nd September 2022. Available at:

Bonyata K. (2018). Nutrition for Breastfeeding Toddlers. Kelly Mom. Accessed 24th September 2022. Available from:
By Emma McShane, Dietitian, edited by Nicole Bando (APD, IBCLC), October 2022

Fish, eggs & 5 a day: your questions answered

Eggs: how many is too many?

Eggs are a great source of nutrition, including protein, iron, choline, Vitamin D, B12, and selenium. Eggs contain heart healthy monounsaturated fats and also some saturated fat (which can increase cholesterol in excess). Include up to seven eggs a week, this won’t increase risk of heart disease. Those at increased risk of heart disease can eat up to six eggs per week.

How often should I eat fish?

Research supports including 2-3 portions of fish per week. Try to choose sustainably sourced fish and limit high mercury options, such as shark, swordfish, barramundi, orange roughy and ling. Low mercury fish include salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines and shellfish.
Fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (unsaturated fats – known as good fats!) which contributes to brain health and development and reduces risk of heart disease.
Protein, selenium, zinc, iodine, and vitamins A and D are other important nutrients in fish.

Vegetables: what’s 5 a day?

We may have all heard that adults need five serves of vegetables a day. To help figure this out, a serve of vegetables is ½ cup of cooked vegetables, canned or cooked legumes, or 1 cup of green leafy vegetables or chopped salad. To achieve this, aim to include half a plate of vegetables at lunch and dinner.

Did you know that toddlers need 2-3 serves per day, increasing to 5 serves by aged 9? A great way to increase vegetable intake, is to offer them 2-3 times per day, for important nutrients, including potassium, fibre, Vitamins C & A. Eat from the rainbow by choosing lots of different coloured vegetables. If 5 a day feels a bit tricky, start small and try to add some chopped carrot or cucumber to your morning snack. Frozen, canned and fresh are all great options.

By Emma McShane, Dietitian, edited by Nicole Bando (APD & IBCLC), October 2022