Preschool-aged children (ages 4 to 5) are still developing their eating habits and need encouragement to eat healthy meals and snacks. These children are eager to learn, especially from other people and will often imitate eating behaviors of adults. They need supervision at mealtime as they are still working on chewing and swallowing skills.
The following are some helpful mealtime hints for preschool-aged children:
- Prepare meals, provide regularly scheduled snacks, and limit unplanned eating.
- Poor behavior at mealtime should not be allowed. Focus on eating, not playing with food or playing at the dinner table.
- Keep offering a variety of foods. Have the attitude that, sooner or later, your child will learn to eat most all foods.
- Make mealtime as pleasant as possible. Do not put pressure on your child to eat, or force your child to "clean" his/her plate. This may lead overeating which can cause your child to gain too much weight. Children will be hungry at mealtime if snacks have been limited during the day.
- Provide examples of healthy eating habits. Preschoolers mimic what they see their parents doing. If you eat a lot of junk food, your child will not learn to eat healthy.
Healthy food choices
A healthy eating routine is important at every stage of life and can have positive effects that add up over time. MyPlate is a guideline to help you and your child eat a healthy diet. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has prepared MyPlate to guide parents in selecting a vaiety of nutrient rich foods for children at every stage of life.
The benefits of healthy eating add up over time, bite by bite. Small changes matter. Start Simple with MyPlate.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: focus on whole fruits.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: vary your veggies.
- Make half your grains whole grains.
- Vary your protein routine.
- Move to low-fat or fat-free dairy milk or yogurt (or lactose-free dairy or fortified soy versions).
For more information about MyPlate, visit https://www.myplate.gove/eat-healthy/what-is-myplate