When choosing the most appropriate food for our little ones, it is convenient to know the different nutritional needs depending on the growth stage in which the little one is. What should be the feeding of the preschool child? We will tell you!
The relationship between preschool children and food
Children of preschool age, between 3 and 5-6 years old, are generally characterized by being very active individuals, both physically and intellectually. Since they have many more resources for movement than when they were babies. Still, they are also in a stage of high absorption of knowledge, in which progress in communication skills is critical.
On the other hand, during these years, children go through a stage in which their interest in new foods diminished, increasing the rejection of incorporating these foods into their diet and, even, being able to reject some that previously established.
Although this rejection of food is usually a cause of stress in parents. In normal conditions in which the child is healthy and offered a balanced diet. The stages usually pass without having any consequence on their health or their growth. It is not a problem of lack of appetite, but a key piece in the intricacies of its natural maturation process.
It is convenient to continue with the usual meals without too much variation, including both new foods and others already known in the child’s dishes daily, allowing him to become familiar with any of the new options without forcing and, of course, respecting his signs of satiety.
Besides, at this age, the child must have sufficient autonomy to eat alone, handling the cutlery with skill. Since his psychomotor development allows it. However, the most important thing is that the meal is a family moment in which parents can set an example and allow their children to observe and imitate both their chewing movements and the use of cutlery, without forgetting that the instance of the Parents is key to accepting new foods.
Healthy Eating Guidelines for Preschool Children
An average of 5 or 6 meals a day should be established, depending on the schedules and the age of the child, and accompany them with water as the only and main drink. In general, these meals should be spaced about 3 hours apart, with particular emphasis on two more caloric snacks, lunch and dinner, but without skipping any.
Children of this age need between 1250 and 1500 kcal per day, depending on their age and the type of physical activity they do. This figure is very general since the baseline needs of each child should be calculated individually, taking into account not only their age and gender but also their weight and height. 200-400 kcal is usually added to these basal needs, depending on the intensity of physical activity that the child performs in her daily life.
The distribution of macronutrients in the diet of the preschool child does not usually differ too much from that of older children, with 55-60% of the energy coming from carbohydrates without exceeding 10% of heat from simple sugars, 25- 30% of energy from fat, making sure that the vast majority are mono and polyunsaturated fats (not exceeding 10% saturated fats) and a protein intake of between 15 and 20% of the total energy intake.
The breakfast is a must, and should, therefore, be avoided crackers and sugary cereals, as well as traditional soluble cocoa. These foods contain excessive amounts of simple sugars and should be substituted for more natural versions. Pure soluble cocoa is the right choice, as well as oatmeal or whole grains, and of course, toast.
The dairy is paramount and should be taken at the least two servings. Due to its contribution of micronutrients necessary for growth, we must include dairy (or other foods rich in calcium and vitamin D) in the child’s diet. Milk, cheese, and yogurts can be offered both for breakfast, lunch, or a snack, accompanied by fruit or nuts to complement the supply of nutrients.
The lunch and dinner do not have to consist of three courses, but rather in various portions of different foods for nutritious provide the necessary variety. Also, foods with high nutrient density should be chosen since, at these ages, children still eat small amounts, and thus we ensure that the contribution of micronutrients is not compromised. Legumes, nuts, meat, and fish or egg, for example, are nutrient-dense foods.
To ensure an acceptable fruit consumption, it is better to offer it between main meals and not as dessert, and preferably in whole portions rather than squeezed.
Menu for children between 3 and 6 years old:
And now comes the most difficult. Taking into account everything we’ve told you, what do I put on the table every day? What do I prepare for the child? Without going into quantities, here we have designed some ideas for ‘oriented menus’.
You can read more articles similar to Preschool Children food, in the Kids Food category at Kidsrush.com