OBJECTIVE: To analyse the association between socio-economic indicators and diet among 2-year-old children, by assessing the independent contribution of parental education and equivalent income to food intake. DESIGN: The analysis was based on data from a prospective birth cohort study. Information on diet was obtained using a semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire. Low and high intake of food was defined according to the lowest and the highest quintile of food consumption frequency, respectively. SETTING: Four German cities (Munich, Leipzig, Wesel, Bad Honnef), 1999-2001.Subjects Subjects were 2637 children at the age of 2 years, whose parents completed questionnaires gathering information on lifestyle factors, including parental socio-economic status, household consumption frequencies and children's diet. RESULTS: Both low parental education and low equivalent income were associated with a low intake of fresh fruit, cooked vegetables and olive oil, and a high intake of canned vegetables or fruit, margarine, mayonnaise and processed salad dressing in children. Children with a low intake of milk and cream, and a high intake of hardened vegetable fat, more likely had parents with lower education. Low butter intake was associated with low equivalent income only. CONCLUSIONS: These findings may be helpful for future intervention programmes with more targeted policies aiming at an improvement of children's diets.