Healthy Eating for Preschoolers

Preschoolers need the right nutrition and fuel to keep them going through a busy and active day. They may still be going through an experimental phase when it comes to food, and may be reluctant to try new foods; others may be willing to eat whatever given. However your preschooler prefers to eat, make sure their diet is varied so they are getting all the nutrients they need.

What nutrients does my preschooler need?
It is essential that your little one gets a balanced variety of nutrients for their muscles, teeth and bones to continue to grow and develop appropriately.

  • Protein from meat, chicken, fish, eggs and legumes is vital for growth of muscles and repair of tissues.
  • Your busy preschooler needs carbohydrates from wholegrains like rice, breads, pastas and other grains to provide energy for growth and daily activities.
  • Good sources of healthy fats include nut spreads, oily fish and monounsaturated oils, such as olive oil, and are very important for your little one’s brain development and energy for growth.
  • Your little one will get enough micronutrients, namely vitamins and minerals, if they eat a variety of different fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein-rich foods and wholegrains.
  • The fibre in fruit and vegetables help to keep their tummy regular.
  • Dairy like cheese and yoghurt provides calcium to help your little one develop strong teeth and bones.

How much should my preschooler eat?
Most preschoolers need 3 meals and 2-3 snacks over the course of the day to ensure they are getting a good variety of nutrients. Over the course of these meals, your preschooler should ideally have 3-4 servings of dairy, 2 servings of protein-rich foods, 4-5 fruit and vegetables and 3-4 cereals or grains.

What if my preschooler is under- or over-weight?
If you are unsure whether your little one is the right weight for their height, age and sex, consult your doctor, who will plot your preschooler’s weight on a chart and compare it to other kids their age. If your child is overweight, focus on limiting treat foods that are high in sugar, avoid sugary drinks, provide a balanced diet of fresh and healthy foods and encourage plenty of exercise like walking, swimming or bike riding as a family!

If your child is underweight, and has always been very thin, chances are they have a genetic tendency to be this size, or they’ve just had a growth spurt and need to catch up in weight. However, if your child has drastically lost weight or not gained any weight over some time, consult your doctor.

How do I encourage healthy eating habits in my preschooler?
Be a role model in healthy eating, especially at family meal times where everyone is eating together. Insist on eating as a family at the table for at least one meal per day. Help your child to understand that treats are for special occasions by not having them in the house on a regular basis.

How do I combat fussy eating?
Fussy eating can be very frustrating! Explain to your little one that healthy foods are crucial for keeping our bodies healthy and working well – and for winning that relay at school! Give your preschooler some meal or ingredient choices and engage them in the meal preparation – they’ll believe they are also in control of their eating. Make mealtimes fun – give less-loved ingredients funny names and roles and encourage cooking creativity.

For healthy snack and meal recipes, visit our easy recipes for kids page.

Disclaimer: Breastfeeding is best for babies. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months. PURITY fully supports this with continued breastfeeding, along with the introduction of complementary food as advised by healthcare professionals.