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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 typical for many preschoolers as they grow up and become more independent. Try the following tips to help with this behavior in a positive way:

  • 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 at scheduled meals and snacks.
  • Your child may be unwilling to try new foods. Try serving a new food alongside a familiar food in the same meal. It may take up to a dozen tries for a child to accept a new food.
  • Let your child help prepare meals. Children get excited about tasting items when they have been involved in the preparation.

Serve Safe Food

  • Encourage handwashing after using the bathroom, before and after eating, after playing with pets, or whenever they are dirty.
  • Some foods are more likely to cause foodborne illness. Only serve your preschooler foods containing seafood, meat, poultry, or eggs that have been cooked to the recommended safe minimum internal temperatures. Avoid serving your preschooler unpasteurized (raw) juice or milk.
  • Avoid serving foods that are hard to swallow or cut them into small pieces, about ½ inch. Hard-to-swallow foods can include peanuts, popcorn, round slices of hot dog, hard candy, whole grapes, and cherry tomatoes.
  • To prevent choking, have your preschoolers sit down at a table when they eat. Avoid letting them run, walk, play, or lie down with food in their mouth.

Resources

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Healthy Eating for Preschoolers

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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 card

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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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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Alexa Speakers and Devices

MyPlate on Alexa

Get MyPlate nutrition tips for your baby or toddler on Amazon Alexa devices or the free Alexa app.

Learn more

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