Daily Food Plan for Preschoolers
Learn about Beverages
Offer your preschooler water and fat-free or low-fat milk as beverage choices. You may also offer small amounts of 100% fruit juice.
- When your preschooler is thirsty, water is a good beverage choice. It provides the fluid your child's body needs.
- Be sure to have water available when your child is playing outdoors or doing other physical activity.
- Make sure your preschooler drinks fluoridated water. It helps build and maintain strong teeth. Many community tap water supplies contain fluoride. Check with your water supplier to make sure. If your water supply is not fluoridated or is from a well, check with your doctor about a possible need for fluoride supplements.
- Bottled water is not better or safer than regular tap water, and is an added expense.
- "Flavored" waters or "vitamin" waters may have added sweeteners. Be sure to read the Nutrition Facts label on these beverages.
- Milk and milk products provide many vital nutrients that your preschooler needs for growth. Milk is a good choice to offer as a beverage at meals and snacks.
- While some children don't drink enough milk, others sometimes prefer to fill up on milk and avoid other important foods. Preschoolers need about 2 to 2 ½ cups from the Dairy group each day. Help your child get enough but not too much milk.
- Choose fat-free or low-fat milk. These have the same amounts of calcium, protein, and vitamin D as whole or 2% milk, but less saturated fat and calories.
- All types of fluid milk are typically fortified with vitamin D. Some yogurts are also fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin-D fortified products help build and maintain bones.
- Make sure you serve only pasteurized (not raw) milk to your preschooler.
100% Fruit Juice
- Fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruits provide more fiber than juice. Offer them most often.
- Look for beverages that have 100% fruit juice on the label. 100% fruit juice can be a healthy part of a preschooler's beverage choices in small amounts.
- You may offer your preschooler up to ½ cup to 3/4 cup (4-6 ounces) of 100% fruit juice per day.
- Sweetened beverages such as fruit punch and fruit drinks look like fruit juice, but may contain little or no fruit. These drinks, as well as some flavored waters, sweetened teas, and sports drinks, provide calories, but little or no nutrients.
- Make sure you serve only pasteurized juices to your preschooler.