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What should your preschooler eat? How much should he eat? If these questions are bothering you, then it’s the time you should read our food guide for preschoolers
As your child grows into a preschooler, you will realize that not only there is a sudden spurt in his daily activities but also change in his eating habits. Your child is growing up; hence, he needs proper nutrition to support his growth, learning and gain energy for his high activity levels.
What Should Your Preschooler Eat?
Your preschooler is big enough to try a variety of foods. The only catch is that he should like them. Try to make food appealing for your child. At his age, he is fascinated with different tastes, colours and textures. So offer him different choices to eat.
How Much Should Your Preschooler Eat?
Leave this on your child, let him decide how much he wants to eat. Your job is to decide what foods need to be offered. His appetite may vary from day-to-day or meal-to-meal. That’s perfectly acceptable. Try not to force him to finish everything on his plate. This will put him off the idea of eating.
The foods are divided into 5 different groups. Ensure your child is eating from each of these groups.
1. Grain Group
At least 6 servings per day 1 slice of bread, 4-5 crackers, 2 rotis, ½ cup cooked rice/pasta
2. Fruits and Vegetables Group
At least 5 servings per day ½ -1 small fruit or vegetable, ½ cup juice or soup, ½ cup chopped (raw) or cooked salad
3. Milk Group
At least 3 servings per day. Your preschooler’s daily intake of milk and milk products should be 2 to 2½ cups. It includes milk, yogurt and cheese. Give your child enough, but not too much milk.
4. Meat Group
2 servings per day – 1 egg, ½ cup dry beans/lentils/peas, 1-3 tablespoons lean meat/chicken/fish
5. Fat Group
3-4 servings each day – 1 teaspoon butter/oil/ghee
What Should Not Be Fed to Preschooler?
If your child has some food allergies, then refrain from those foods. The most common food allergies are milk, eggs, shell-fish, wheat, nuts, etc. Talk to your doctor to be sure.
Secondly, be careful with slippery and sticky food that may cause choking, for example, big pieces of meats, candy, whole grapes, peanut butter and marshmallows. Also, be careful with hard foods such as nuts, raw carrots, raisins, etc. Always give small pieces of food to avoid this.
What are Some Good Snack Options for your Preschooler?
1. Grain group
Whole wheat crackers, dry cereal, toast, puffed rice, air-popped popcorn
2. Vegetable group
Raw vegetables like cucumbers, carrots (cut in strip shape)
3. Fruit group
Fresh fruit like banana, small apple, peach, dried fruit
4. Milk group
Cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt (plain or flavoured)
5. Protein group
Peanut butter, nuts and seeds, hard-boiled eggs, meat slices such as turkey, chicken and tuna salad
Some tips that will help you in giving a balanced, nutritious meal to your preschooler:
- Never skip on your child’s breakfast. That’s the most important meal of the day. Make sure breakfast consists of cereal, dairy, fruits and vegetables.
- Instead of giving larger meals, divide those into smaller meals and give them at regular intervals.
- Feed or give your child food when he is relaxed. This will make him eat well.
- Never push your child into the habit of TV-watching while eating. Most kids tend to overeat while watching TV.
- Never let your child get too hungry before he eats. The chances are that he will end up eating more which leads to child obesity.
- Never get into the habit of using food as a reward.
- Kids change their preferences quite often. What they like today, they might not like tomorrow. Don’t force your child into eating something he doesn’t like.
- Expect your child to eat the same food as the rest of the family. For a picky eater, you may additionally prepare one food that you know your child will enjoy eating.
- Avoid adding salt and sugar in your child’s food.
- Also, feeding your preschooler chips, food made from refined flour, etc. is not much of a help. They are just empty calories.
- Along with the food, give your child healthy drinks like buttermilk, coconut water, fresh fruit juices, etc.
- Eat healthy yourself to inculcate the same healthy eating habits in your child.
With these tips, help your preschooler to eat well, be active and healthy. Healthy food plays a big role in your child’s normal growth and development.