Article by M. Uma, M.Sc. Dietetics and Nutrition, St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulam

Preschoolers are rapidly growing and are active so their energy requirements are also high relative to their body size. A normal preschooler may require upto 1400-1600 Kcal per day.  Adequete intake of protein calcium, iron, vitamins-A and D are important.

A young child’s eating plan should consist of healthy foods.


  • Opt for bright and dark veggies- spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
  • Starchy, white foods have lesser nutrients in them.


  • Choose fresh fruits-strawberries, mangoes, apples etc.
  • Fruit juices should be  consumed as little as possible. While offering , make sure its fresh and without sugar.


  • Use whole grains or multigrain flour, brown rice.
  • Totally avoid white bread or white rice.

Meats and beans

  • Lean protein should be served daily-beef,pork,chicken,  fish,eggs.
  • Prefer steamed, baked, grilled, not fried.


  • Children should be fed with atleast 2 servings of dairy products-  milk, cheese, paneer.


  • Use healthy oil for cooking- olive oil, vegetable oil.
  • Avoid reusing of oil

Fats and sweets

  • Limit intake of butter, cream, sugary foods, soda, and chocolates as much as possible.
  • Excess intake can cause tooth decay.


  • Daily recommended allowance is around 3mg per day.
  • Excess salt intake can lead to high BP at a let stage.
  • Most of the excess comes from regular intake of processed/manufactured foods-chips, ready to eat foods, ketchup etc.

Preschoolers are high spirited, active, opiniated especially in terms of what they want to eat.  It is good to allow them to make choices but some patient efforts are required from parents to help them change their opinion. Food preferences can be influenced by parents, friends, TV advertisements. Studies show that at this age children mimic their parent’s habits. So don’t expect your child to eat better than you do.

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