The Australian feeding infants and toddlers study
Project Status: Completed
Project administered by: SAHMRI

What a child is fed during the first two years of life is critical to ensure their optimal growth, health, and development to reach their full potential.

Sub optimal feeding practices during this period have long-term health consequences that persist into adulthood.

Despite recognising the importance of early life feeding practices, it is remarkable that there is no national data on what young children are being fed. The 2021 Australian Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (OzFITS) was designed to fill this gap. OzFITS was a cross-sectional survey of over 1100 parents of children under two years of age throughout Australia.

child cooking

Why are we interested in what babies eat and drink?

The first two years of a baby’s life set the foundation for dietary patterns later in life. Previous national nutrition surveys did not include children under two years, therefore information on their diets is limited.

In this study, we sought to find out what children under two years of age are eating and drinking. Our study also aimed to find out how today’s diets and feeding practices compare to Australian dietary guidelines.

With this information, we will provide better nutrition information to parents and caregivers about nutrition in the early years.

This study is now complete and found the following:


  • We found high breastfeeding rates, with over 40% of toddlers still breastfeeding. Most infants started solid foods at around 6 months, which is in line with recommendations.
  • Of concern, 9 out of 10 toddlers consumed discretionary foods. Discretionary foods are calorie dense but low in nutrition. Some examples include sweet biscuits, processed meats, confectionary, and potato chips. Because young children have high nutrient and low energy requirements, it is recommended that discretionary foods are not included in their diets.
  • Less than 1/3 of toddlers consumed the recommended serving of cereals and grains.
  • The amount of meats and alternatives eaten by the children in our study was below the recommended intake. We also found that over 90% of infants aged 6-12 months and 25% of toddlers did not consume enough iron.
  • Two out of three toddlers did not eat the minimum recommended serving of vegetables.


    • Offer less milk and breastmilk as your baby older and eats more food.
    • Iron is an important nutrient for growth and brain development. Include an iron-rich food at each meal such as red meat, iron-fortified cereals, legumes, or leafy green vegetables.
    • Eat some fruit (not too much).
    • Teach your young child to eat more vegetables they can be offered as meals or snacks.
    • Offer healthy snack foods.
    • Offer family foods from the five food groups, consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

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    This project was funded by the Nestle Nutrition Institute