Children’s food in the Brussels public hospitals is studied between 1830 and 1860, i.e. prior to the discovery of specific diets per age category. In the 1830s, children received ‘fractions’ of the adults’ diet according to their age (¼, ½ and ¾), without any special treat (e.g. additional milk). Consequently, children were malnourished. In the 1850s, however, conditions improved. First, the adults’ diet bettered; second, the classification of children changed (moving from ¼ to ½, from ½ to ¾, and from ½ to the full regime); and third, strict eating rules disappeared for children. Explanations may be found both outside and within the hospital, announcing the dietary innovations of the last quarter of the century.