How can I encourage proper nutrition and good mealtime habits?
There are many ways to set your pre-school aged child on the right path:
- Prepare meals, provide regularly scheduled snacks and limit unplanned eating.
- Focus on eating, not playing with food or playing at the dinner table. (Poor behavior at mealtime should not be allowed.)
- Continue to offer a variety of foods, even foods your child has previously refused them. Have the attitude that, sooner or later, your child will learn to eat most foods.
- Make mealtime as pleasant as possible. Do not put pressure on your child to eat, or force your child to clean his plate. Children will be hungry at mealtimes if snacks have been limited during the day.
What does the USDA suggest for my pre-school aged child?
The USDA has recently revised its eating guidelines; the new focus is on variety, moderation, proportion size and gradual improvement in eating habits. The USDA's "My Pyramid" plan can be personalized based on your child's age, gender and activity level. Based on information you provide, "My Pyramid" recommends appropriate calories as well as fruit, vegetables, grain, meat/bean, milk and oil servings per day to ensure that your child gets adequate nutrition.
More information can be found at Mypyramid.gov.