Tips for Preschooler Nutrition
It can be difficult to feed kids of a certain age—despite the need for a balanced diet, picky eaters tend to make their opinions known in the range of two to five years. Maybe they’ll reject a certain type of dish, or maybe they’ll pick one or two favorites and refuse to eat anything else. This phase usually passes by the time they go to school, but what are you supposed to do until then? Well, we have a few ideas for kids’ meals that could help you end the day with clean plates.
First, though, let’s talk about some nutrition information. The preschool years are an important time to develop healthy habits for life, so it’s no use getting children to eat if they only eat sweets or junk food. Generally speaking, kids should be drinking water (instead of juice or soda) as much as possible, especially if they’re thirsty between meals. When it comes to dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt, go for the low-fat or fat-free options. And make sure to serve whole grains for at least half of the daily grain requirement. For more specific information on required calories and the proportion of each food group, check out the food plan and toddler meal ideas from ChooseMyPlate.gov.
So now that you have an idea of what to serve, there’s only the matter of how to serve it. One key factor in enjoying food is the plating and presentation. Even if it tastes delicious, children will be less willing to try a dish if they don’t like how it looks. Here are a few visual elements to consider when you’re preparing your preschooler’s meal:
- Color: Fill each plate with a palette of bright, cheerful hues that will appeal to your child. Certain fruits and vegetables are naturally colorful as well as healthy, which make them a great choice for encouraging a balanced diet. For a more vibrant dye, you can use food coloring and make something like rainbow pasta, a perfect recipe for picky eaters.
- Shape: Grab those cookie cutters and put them to use! Cutting sandwiches into fun shapes will make your meal more engaging, and it doesn’t take much extra work. If you have a little more time on your hands, you can also make custom shapes using a sharp knife—print out a paper pattern or try going freestyle. For a fun, and healthy snack, serve some easy-to-make strawberry hearts.
- Form: Instead of making complex shapes, you can also arrange simpler pieces to create an image, such as with these pizza faces.
One last thing: while the tableware isn’t part of the cooking process, it’s still fairly important to consider. Zak has plenty of dinnerware for kids, including mealtime sets, easy-to-grip flatware>, and divided plates to keep foods separated. Featuring artwork from popular movies, TV shows, and more, kids will be eager to clean their plates when they see their favorite characters come off the screen—it’s just another way to help make meals fun.