Preschoolers are at an age when they start to show independence and have a reputation for being fussy eaters. Have no fear – good nutrition at this age is still achievable. All it takes is a little bit of food and nutrition knowledge and, of course, lots of patience!
The nutritional needs of preschoolers
Preschoolers have an established daily routine and need regular mealtimes to be part of this. Parents and preschools should provide suitable foods at mealtimes, including morning and afternoon tea. It is up to the child to eat from what is offered.
After a day at preschool and possibly attending activities in the afternoon, some children will not be hungry at dinner time. They may have eaten enough during the day at earlier meals. So make the mealtime a pleasant social time together.
It is an opportunity for parents to show their children appropriate eating behaviours, including eating a variety of foods, tasting new foods, even if the preschooler is not actually eating. The nutritional needs of preschoolers can be met by offering foods from all the food groups.
What are appropriate foods?
According to The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating preschoolers need:
- 3 to 6 serves of fruit and vegetables – no more than 200mL fruit juice.
- 4 to 8 slices of bread or equivalent serves (about a cup) of breakfast cereal, rice, pasta or noodles.
- The equivalent of 500mL to 600mL reduced fat milk, which can include yogurt, cheese, calcium fortified soy beverage.
- 1 small serve of meat, chicken, fish, egg or legumes such as baked beans, lentils, chickpeas.
The amount of food a preschooler chooses to eat will vary according to their size and activity levels.
As a mother of a child with a minimal appetite, I noticed the importance of eating together with other children. Children do not only socialize when they eat together but they also try different food.
I am a working mom so I am aware of the difficulty of preparing a healthy snack box for my son. Considering this, we offer a well-balanced, nutritious meal plan including breakfast, morning snack, hot lunch and afternoon snack at Deerfields nursery to give a peace of mind to our parents.
Managing Director/ Deerfields Nursery
- Natalie Sengezer has been in education field for 21 years. She has BA on educational sciences and Cache Level 5 Diploma in Leadership . She has researches on pedagogy and kids nutrition. She has hosted two Health Conferences on kids Nutrition with the cooperation of dieticians to give the knowledge to the parents on how to feed their children and avoid junk and processed food. She has been living in the UAE for 11 years and established two British Curriculum nurseries from scratch in Dubai and Abudhabi. She is a mother of one boy and has great passion for kids, where she gets all her enthusiasm from.