By Holden Funk, clinical dietitian at CHOC
Preschool-age children (ages 4 to 5) are still developing their eating habits and need encouragement to eat healthy meals and snacks. They should eat a balanced diet of grains, protein, fruits and vegetables and diary.
However, kids at this age may often be picky eaters. But with some patience and support from their parents, they can start establishing lifelong healthy eating habits.
Visit choc.org for tips on how to create a balanced meal for your preschooler.
The following mealtime tips can be helpful for families with kids of all ages, but can be especially helpful when feeding your energetic, opinionated preschooler:
In addition to balanced nutrition, physical activity can be beneficial for your preschooler’s growth and development. Since most 4- and 5-year-olds with have a natural tendency to be active, embrace that tendency by planning fun, physical activities to do with your family. And, learning new skills will help them build confidence!
Try the following activities from Playworld with your kids:
This indoor physical activity is perfect for preschoolers, particularly for those four years old and up. No equipment is necessary, and there really isn’t a limit on the number of players you need — though you’ll probably want at least four.
In Duck, Duck, Goose, children sit in a circle facing one another. One person is “it,” and they walk around the circle, tapping the heads of each player and calling each of them “duck” until they call one player “goose.” “Goose” will then stand from the circle and chase after “It” around the circle. “It” needs to reach the spot where “goose” had been sitting before “goose” catches them.
If “it” reaches the spot before getting tagged, “goose” becomes “it.” If “it” gets tagged before reaching the spot, they sit in the middle of the circle until a new “it” is tagged.
Duck, Duck, Goose is great for getting kids moving quickly!
Play a song for kids to dance to. Whenever the song is paused, they must freeze in place. Kids will have fun dancing, and they’ll also develop skills for self-regulation —similar to games like musical chairs.
If outdoors, you can use chalk to draw two parallel lines about a foot apart to create a river. Instruct children to jump over the river by bending at the knees, extending their arms behind their backs and swinging their arms forward when they take off and land on their feet on the other side. If indoors, use tape to create your river instead.
¼ Mini baguette or Italian bread (split lengthwise, or 2 split whole-grain English muffins)
½ cup pizza sauce
½ cup low-fat mozzarella or cheddar cheese (shredded)
¼ cup green and red bell pepper (chopped)
Vegetable toppings (other, as desired)
Italian Seasoning to taste (optional)
1. Toast the bread or English muffin until slightly brown.
2. Top bread or muffin with pizza sauce, vegetables and low-fat cheese.
3. Sprinkle with Italian seasonings as desired.
4. Return bread to toaster oven (or regular oven preheated to 350 degrees).
5. Heat until cheese melts.
Serving size: 1 slice
Calories: 180; Total Fat: 7g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol 15mg; Sodium: 502mg; Total Carbohydrate: 18g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugars: 4g; Protein: 11g
Recipe from myplate.gov
1 pound of carrots
Salt and pepper to taste
Serving size: 1/4 recipe
Calories: 45; Total Fat: 0g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium: 370mg; Total Carbohydrate: 11g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 5g; Protein: 1g.
Recipe from eatright.org
For more on CHOC’s clinical nutrition program