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Preschoolers

Preschoolers

Help your preschooler eat well, be active, and grow up healthy!

Young children look to you as they learn, develop and grow healthy eating habits. Make every bite count.

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Healthy Eating

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Picky Eating

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Serve Safe Food

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Resources

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Healthy Eating

It’s important for preschoolers to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy and fortified soy alternatives. Choose options for meals, beverages, and snacks that have limited added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.

The amount of food preschoolers need depends on a variety of factors, including age, sex, and physical activity level. Use the MyPlate Plan as a general guide to how much they should eat from each food group every day.

Preschoolers have a wide range of normal growth; every child is different. Your child’s healthcare provider will monitor their growth over time using growth charts and other tools. Be sure to discuss concerns you may have about your child’s growth with their healthcare provider.

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Picky Eating

Picky eating is common for many preschoolers as they grow up and become more independent. Try the following tips to help them during this time:

  • Your preschooler may not eat the exact amounts suggested every day. Try to balance the amounts over a few days or a week.
  • Offer different foods from day to day. Encourage your child to choose from a variety of foods.
  • Serve foods in small portions during regular meals and snacks times.
  • Your child may not want to try new foods. Try serving a new food with a food they know and like in the same meal. It may take up to 12 tries for a child to accept a new food.
  • Let your child help prepare meals. Children get excited about tasting foods when they have helped make them.

Serve Safe Food

  • Teach your child how to wash their hands after using the bathroom, before and after eating, after playing with pets, and whenever they are dirty.
  • Some foods are more likely to cause foodborne illness (or food poisoning). Only serve your preschooler foods with seafood, meat, poultry, or eggs that have been cooked to the recommended safe minimum internal temperatures.
  • Avoid serving unpasteurized (raw) juice or milk.
  • Do not serve foods to your child that are hard to swallow. Cut them into small pieces of about a half inch. Some types of hard-to-swallow foods can include peanuts, popcorn, round slices of hot dog, hard candy, whole grapes, and cherry tomatoes.
  • Have your preschoolers sit down at a table when they eat to prevent choking. Do not let them run, walk, play, or lie down with food in their mouth.

Resources

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Healthy Eating for Preschoolers Tip Sheet

English    Spanish

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Behavioral Milestones

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kitchen activities sheet

Kitchen Helper Activities

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Healthy Tips for Picky Eaters

English   Spanish

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food critic activity sheet

Kids Food Critic Activity

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Grocery Store Bingo

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kids coloring sheet

MyPlate Coloring Sheet

English   Spanish

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phrases that help and hinder fact sheet

Phrases that Help and Hinder

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myplate maze activity sheet

MyPlate Maze

English   Spanish

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Team Nutrition’s MyPlate E-books

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Help Me Be Healthy – I am 4

English   Spanish

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Help Me Be Healthy – I am 4 ½

English   Spanish

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Veggie Dice

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Fruit vegetable Sorting Activity Sheet

Fruit and Vegetable Sorting Activity

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Grains and Dairy Sorting Activity Sheet

Grains and Dairy Sorting Activity

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Protein Foods Sorting Activity Sheet

Protein Foods Sorting Activity

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More Print Materials

English   Spanish

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Shop Simple with MyPlate

Find savings in your area and discover new ways to prepare budget-friendly foods.

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Alexa Speakers and Devices

MyPlate on Alexa

Get MyPlate nutrition tips on Amazon Alexa devices or the free Alexa app.

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Start Simple app on phone and watch

Start Simple with MyPlate App

Build healthy eating habits one goal at a time! Download the Start Simple with MyPlate app today.

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MyPlate.gov is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025