Best Nutrition For Preschoolers

Submitted by Nick on October 3, 2012

Children grow at a very fast pace, and their bodies need sufficient nutrition to see them through this phase. A parent's main worry is their child's eating habits. While some children eat well, most of them can be very fussy when it comes to food. Maintaining a healthy diet is very important to provide your preschooler with the nutrition he needs, preventing health problems like eating disorders, obesity, iron deficiency anemia and dental caries, amongst other issues.


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Preschooler Development Guide

Calcium's Important

Learn your child's nutrient needs, and remember that iron and calcium requirements change as your child grows older. Children at preschool age have their appetites come and go in spurts, just like the way they grow. It is common for them to eat a lot one day and then not want to eat anything the next.

During this very important phase, you should keep a check on whether your child is getting the calcium intake he needs. Calcium is needed to build strong bones and teeth, which is why it is called the body's building block. Milk is the best source of calcium. If your child is lactose intolerant, there are other options, such as lactose-free milk, soy milk, tofu, calcium fortified drinks, sardines, waffles, cereals and oatmeal that have calcium in them. Your doctor might also recommend calcium supplements as well.

Fiber Fuel

Another important source of nutrition is fiber which comes from vegetables, beans, fruits and whole grains. Fiber prevents heart disease, constipation and helps indigestion. Your child at this age can be quite opinionated about his food and would prefer his macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and the likes, but you should encourage him to include fiber in his diet. Make mealtimes a fun experience, explaining in a fun sort of way through games if necessary, the benefits of fiber and the harmful effects of not eating it.

Low fat diets are usually recommended for adults but children under five should get enough fat in their diet. This fat should ideally come from meat, oily fish and full fat milk rather than high fat foods like biscuits, cookies, chocolates, chips and junk food. However, as children approach school age, their diet should move towards being low in fat and high in fiber.

Your child's diet should be rich and balanced with the nutrients from the four main food groups which are:

  • Fruits and vegetables – provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and is a great source of antioxidants.
  • Meat, fish and alternatives – provide proteins, vitamins and minerals like iron.
  • Milk and dairy foods – provides calcium and proteins for growth and vitamins and minerals.
  • Cereals, bread and potatoes – starchy foods that include rice pasta provides energy, vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Foods like cakes, biscuits, aerated drinks, chocolates, sweets, pastries, chips etc have very low nutritional value and should be given in limited quantities. It is also important to restrict your child's intake of salt. Children between 1 to 3 years old should have only 2 grams of salt per day. The calorie intake for boys between 1 to 3 years old should be 1,230 per day and for girls, 1,165.

Your preschooler's health can be quite a cause of worry, but there are a few tips that can help you get your child get the nutrition they need without too much stress:

  • Respect his appetite
  • Make a routine
  • Be patient with new foods
  • Make mealtimes fun
  • Take your child grocery shopping
  • Reduce distractions like the TV or games during meals
  • Don't bribe with dessert
  • Set a good example by eating healthy yourself
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