Kids and Eating – Frequently Asked Questions

Compiled by Linda N. Stuhlman for Best Beginnings workshops

How much does a preschooler (ages 3-5) need to eat per day?

  • Juice: no more than 6 oz. per day, Fruits: 2 or 3 per day (1 cup)
  • Vegetables: 2 or 3 per day (1 cup), Milk or milk products: 2 to 3 cups per day
  • Meat, poultry, fish: 4 oz. per day, Bread, cereal, pasta: 6 servings per day

Why should I limit the amount of juice?

  • Too much juice leads to tooth decay and obesity.
  • Offer water throughout the day. Water is important for good health and brain development.
  • Sports drinks are not a substitute for water but should be considered the same as juice: only ½ to 1 cup per day.

How can I make meal time a happy time at my house?

  • Food digests better when stress is low so try these tips:
  • Have children participate in getting the meal on the table by setting the table, and getting drinks. Family cooperation sets the tone.
  • Have assigned seats and stick to them every meal.
  • Serve dinner family style (put food in bowls for everyone to dish out for themselves)
  • Have a beginning of meal routine: say grace or a sing a song.
  • Let children see you eating healthy foods as they learn by imitating.
  • Start a conversation about each family member’s day.
  • Recognize that children need to eat earlier than 1 hour prior to bedtime.

How can I get my child to try new foods?

  • Recognize that 8 to 12 experiences are necessary for a child to try and then accept a new food. Start with smelling a food, then licking it!
  • Make some fun food; such as faces or shapes.
  • Let children choose a new food to try when you take them grocery shopping.
  • Avoid forcing children to try new foods.
  • Grow a garden. Read books. Visit ethnic restaurants.

What rules should I have for meal time?

  • Have regular times for meals and snacks.
  • Use good manners (parents set an example)
  • Sit on your bottom on the chair.
  • Stay at the table for 5 or 10 minutes. (even if finished eating)
  • Ask to be excused.
  • Take your plate to the sink.


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