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Meals and Snacks for Preschoolers

Try these two steps to help your preschooler eat healthier:

Step 1: Set and keep regular times for breakfast, lunch, dinner, morning and afternoon snacks
Setting and sticking to a meal and snack schedule for your preschooler is one of the most important steps to ensure that they are eating healthy and getting the foods they need. A predictable schedule helps your child feel more secure about food and they will be less focused on it.

Step 2: Offer a variety of foods from the food groups at each meal and snack

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 3 main meals and 2 nutritious snacks for both toddlers and preschoolers. Offer a variety of nutritious foods from the food groups. Your child will be more likely to get the balance of nutrition that they need to grow healthy and strong.

What and how much should my preschooler be eating to be healthy?

Let the MyPlate food groups guide you in choosing the most healthy foods to serve your child. The chart below outlines what your child needs each day from each food group. Remember to offer child-size portions, which is half of what adults should eat. That is not a lot of food. Aim to serve most food groups at each meal and fill in the rest at snacks.

Serving Sizes + Meal Ideas

  • Breakfast: 1/2 of a banana, tablespoon of peanut butter, 1/2 whole wheat bagel and 1/2 cup of milk
  • Snack: 1/2 cup of yogurt and 1/4 cup of carrots
  • Lunch: 1/2 cup of peas, 1 ounce of chicken, 1/2 cup cooked rice and 1/2 cup of milk
  • Snack: 1 cup dry cereal, 1/2 sliced apple
  • Dinner: 1/2 baked sweet potato, 1 ounce of fish, slice of bread and 1/2 cup of milk

For more meal and snack ideas, MyPlate provides a week worth of sample food choices.

Make a Plan to Get Your Child Eating Healthier

Can you take one small step toward setting meal and snack times and serving more nutritious foods for your child?

1. Schedule Meal and Snack Times

Starting I will  

2. Serve Most Food Groups at Each Meal
During I will include  food groups by serving 
e.g., During breakfast, I will include three food groups by serving cereal with milk and banana

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