Pre-schoolers are at an age when they start to show independence and have a reputation for being fussy eaters. Have no fear - good nutrition at this age is still achievable. All it takes is a little bit of food and nutrition knowledge and, of course, lots of patience!
The nutritional needs of preschoolers
Preschoolers have an established daily routine and need regular mealtimes to be part of this. Parents and preschools should provide suitable foods at mealtimes, including morning and afternoon tea. It is up to the child to eat from what is offered. Food should be attractively presented and should be in bite sizes so that the child can just pick up a bite and put it in their mouth. Unless the food is colourful and attractive, the child would not be interested in trying out the food and would be more interested in continuing his play.
After a day at preschool and possibly attending activities in the afternoon, some children will not be hungry at dinner time. They may have eaten enough during the day at earlier meals. So make the mealtime a pleasant social time together. It is an opportunity for parents to show their children appropriate eating behaviours, including eating a variety of foods, tasting new foods, even if the preschooler is not actually eating.
The nutritional needs of preschoolers can be met by offering foods from all the food groups.
What are appropriate foods?
Based on recommendations of Indian Council of Medical Research you need to include the following foods in your preschoolers’ diet every day:
- 5-6 servings of cereals (like roti, whole wheat bread rice, pasta, noodles etc)
- 2-3 servings of milk and milk products like (glass of milk, milk shake, yoghurt, paneer, cheese etc)
- 1 small portion of meats like chicken, fish, eggs and 1 portion of pulses like lentils, chickpeas, green gram etc
- 3-4 portions of fruits and vegetables
The amount of food a preschooler chooses to eat will vary according to their size and activity levels.
What food to send to preschool in tiffin
Choose foods from the core food groups.
- Breads or cereal based foods like sandwiches, parantha rolls with veggies, sprouts, whole wheat bread with a veggie or egg filling, rolled up, pasta or rice based salad, crackers with a spread, fruit-based muffins
- Include a dairy food for lunch or breakfast (eg a cheese sandwich, yogurt, custard)
- Firm fresh fruits, as well as dried fruits, are easy to send for morning tea or lunch
- Choose easy-to-eat vegetables such as cucumber sticks, celery, carrot sticks and capsicum. Remember to cut them appropriately for small fingers
- Handy finger foods like cutlets, hard boiled eggs, small sandwiches, rolls, whole fruits are easy to pick up and at school
Pre-schoolers are at an active and growing age. They need their food to be nutrient rich and tasty. The foods you provide to your pre-schooler needs to provide the energy requirement of an active mind and a growing body along with introducing the child to newer foods.