Understanding the early determinants of food intake, in particular the role of food sensory quality, is a necessary step to improve the prevention of unhealthy food habits. However, the extent to which food intake varies according to salt, fat and sugar content is imperfectly known. The present study aimed at evaluating whether toddler food intake varied during lunches or snacks in which salt, fat or sugar contents had been modified in common foods. Seventy-four children (30 (se 0·5) months old) participated in the study in their usual day-care centres. Every other week, they were served lunches composed, among other items, of green beans and pasta with varying salt (0, 0·6 and 1·2 % added salt) or fat (0, 2·5 and 5 % added butter) levels and afternoon snacks composed of fruit purée varying in sugar level (0, 5 and 10 % added sugar). During each meal, children could eat as much as they wanted from the target foods. Each food was weighed before and after the meal. Salt level had a positive impact on the intake of the target foods. On the contrary, no impact of added fat or added sugar levels was observed. This implies that fat and sugar addition could be avoided in foods for children without having an impact on palatability, allowing the energy density of children's diet to be limited. Salt addition should be limited, but its suppression in vegetables, whose intake is to be promoted, should be considered cautiously.