MyPlate Tips for Preschoolers

The foods and drinks your preschooler has throughout the day are important for his or her health. Fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy are a part of a healthy eating style and together provide the nutrients their bodies need. Limit the amount of added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat in your preschooler’s meals, drinks, and snacks. 

FruitsFruits – Focus on whole fruits

  • Serve a rainbow of choices. Fruit can be a quick and easy way to make meals and snacks healthier and more colorful. 
  • Choose from fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits. Purchase canned fruit in water or 100% fruit juice instead of syrup.
  • Limit fruit juice. While 100% fruit juice can be part of a healthy diet, it does not contain the dietary fiber found in other forms of fruit.
  • Offer raisins or other unsweetened dried fruit instead of chewy fruit snacks or strips, which usually contain very little fruit.

VegetablesVegetables – Vary your veggies

  • Serve a variety of colorful choices. Brighten children’s plates with red, orange, and dark-green vegetables.
  • Choose from fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables. Prepare and serve vegetables without added salt or solid fat.  
  • Try a dip. Kids love to dip their foods. Whip up a quick dip for veggies with yogurt and seasonings such as herbs or garlic. Serve with raw vegetables like broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower.

GrainsGrains – Make half your grains whole grains

  • Make at least half their grains whole grains by offering 100% whole-grain cereals, breads, and pasta.
  • Vary the choices for whole grains. Rolled oats, oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, quinoa, wheat berries, and millet are whole-grain foods. 
  • Choose toppings wisely for toast, hot cereals, pasta, and rice. Instead of adding butter, stick margarine, and regular full-fat cheese, use vegetable oils, low-fat cheeses, or marinara sauce as toppings. 

Protein FoodsProtein Foods – Vary your protein routine

  • Choose a variety of protein foods such as seafood, beans, lean meats, poultry, and eggs. 
  • Limit highly processed poultry, fish, or meat (like hotdogs, chicken nuggets, and fish sticks). Even some “reduced-fat” meats and cold cuts, like sausage, bologna, and salami, may be high in saturated fat and sodium.
  • Add beans to children's favorite foods. Add beans and peas to tacos, casseroles, stews, pastas, and side dishes.  

DairyDairy – Move to low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt

  • Serve unflavored, fat-free, and low-fat milks most often. They have less added sugar and fewer calories than flavored, whole, or reduced-fat milk. 
  • Low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese provide much needed calcium. Try making a dip for fruits or vegetables from yogurt. 
  • Blend dairy into smoothies. Combine low-fat or fat-free yogurt with bananas and cocoa powder for a smoothie, or try milk, ice cubes, and frozen berries.