Eating habits for pre-schoolers
Once your child starts pre-school, her life will take on a new routine. She will be expected to sit down with other children and eat at regular times. This can be a bit of a struggle for children who are used to grazing at home, or others who are fussy eaters (by the time they’ve picked at half their sandwich, the rest of the group is packing up their lunchboxes).
As a regular intake of food is needed throughout the day to keep your child fuelled up and active, it’s important for you to know how much your child is eating each day. Be sure to ask your child’s pre-school how food intake is monitored; and if your child takes her own lunch each day make sure you see what’s left in the lunchbox at the end of the day before it’s thrown out. If food is provided, ask the carers for feedback.
If your child eats very little during the day – and some do find all the noise and activity very distracting – you may need to be prepared with a wholesome snack the minute your child comes in through the front door.
How do I help my pre-schooler eat well?
Your pre-schooler is still developing the good eating habits that will, hopefully, see her through her life, and so she still needs your encouragement to eat healthy meals and snacks, and to make the right choices about food.
According to The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating each day pre-schoolers need:
- 3-6 serves of fruit and vegetables (but no more than 200ml fruit juice)
- 4-8 slices of bread or equivalent (about a cup) serves of breakfast cereal, rice, pasta or noodles
- 500ml to 600ml of reduced fat milk, or equivalent which can include yoghurt, cheese, calcium fortified soy drinks.
- 1 small serve of meat, chicken, fish, egg or legumes (baked beans, lentils, chickpeas)
Meeting the nutritional needs of your pre-schooler
As your pre-schooler leaves her toddler years behind, she will begin to grow at a more steady and consistent rate, and as a result, she’ll be more consistent in her nutritional needs.
For this reason, it’s not a good idea to restrict your child’s diet. If you’re at all concerned about her weight at this age, talk to your doctor who will know if she falls within the healthy weight range for her height and age. If your child is overweight, it’s generally a better idea to increase physical activity rather than restrict a healthy and balanced diet.
This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot. Sources include Australian Govt’s National Health and Medical Research Council
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