For Children Under 5
Children form their eating habits early in life. They need to learn to eat a variety of foods to grow and stay healthy. Young children may not always eat the way you want them to. You can help your child try new foods and feel good about eating. Here are some tips for feeding children:
- Offer healthy choices for meals and snacks.
- Offer small amounts of food and drink and let your child ask for more.
- Make eating a fun activity.
- Be a good role model by choosing a healthy diet yourself.
- Shows you and your family the kinds of foods to eat every day.
- Shows you foods to eat more often like breads, cereals, fruits, and vegetables.
- Shows you foods to eat less often like sweets and fats.
- Offer preschool children at least the lowest number of servings listed for each food group on the Pyramid.
- Examples of serving sizes for a young child are:
- 1/2 slice of bread
- 1/4 cup of fruit or vegetable
- 1/2 cup of cooked beans
- 1 ounce of lean meat, fish, or poultry.
- For milk products, offer children at least 2 cups of milk or a comparable amount of milk products each day. For children 2 years and older, milk and milk products should be low fat.
Fun Food Activities
- As you do an activity, talk to your children about foods. Ask what they think, too.
- Have children help with simple food preparation. They can wash foods like greens or potatoes. They can break food like broccoli into pieces.
- Have children help with recipes. They can measure food in a cup or mix foods together. Often children are more willing to try foods they have helped to prepare.
- Have a tasting party to give children a chance to try new foods. Never force a child to eat a certain food.
- Have a picnic indoors or outdoors.
- Make foods interesting by making them in special shapes or decorating them.
- Help children set up a play kitchen, restaurant, or store with empty food boxes and cartons.
- Read books about foods. You can find them at your library.
- Visit a fruit and vegetable stand or bakery.
- Have children name foods as you go up and down the grocery store aisles.
Adapted from Go Glow Grow - Foods For You
United States Department of Agriculture
Food and Consumer Service
Program Aid No. 12554