Need some ideas to feed your preschooler? Use these sample meal plans and tips on healthy eating to help you feed your little one.
What should I feed my preschooler?
Preschoolers between the ages of 3 and 5 are able to eat a variety of healthy foods. Offer your child the same foods that the rest of the family eats. Offer foods with different tastes, textures and colours according to Canada’s Food Guide.
How much should my preschooler eat?
Let your child decide how much to eat from the foods you offer. Do not force your child to eat or restrict the amount of food you allow them to eat. Some days they might eat more. Some days they might eat less. A child’s appetite can change from day to day.
Use the sample meals below as general guidelines only. Plan meals and snacks around the same time each day so your child will be hungry when it’s time to eat.
Sample Meals for Preschoolers: 3 to 5 years old
Sample Menu 1
Sample Menu 2
Children and high mercury fish
For children between one and four years of age limit frozen/fresh tuna, shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy and escolar to 75 grams per month. These fish contain high levels of mercury. Young children between five and 11 years of age can have up to 125 grams of these large, predatory fish per month.
For children between one to four years of age limit albacore (“white”) canned tuna to 75 grams per week. Young children between five and 11 years of age can consume up to 150 grams or albacore (“white”) tuna per week. Albacore ("white") canned tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna.
Tips for feeding your preschooler (3 to 5 years)
Let your child decide what and how much to eat from the foods your offer. Continue to offer a variety of familiar foods and new foods at each meal.
Always supervise your child while eating. Cut foods into bite size pieces to avoid choking.
You can switch from full fat milk (3.25%) to skim, 1% or 2% milk. Fortified soy, rice, almond or coconut beverages can also be introduced at this age but they do not contain the same amount of nutrients as cow’s milk.
Offer water between meals. Sipping on milk or juice between meals can decrease appetite. If you give your child juice, offer 100% fruit juice and limit it to 4 - 6 oz (125-175 mL) a day.
Eat meals and snacks prepared at home more often. Prepare healthy homemade recipes. Try chicken tacos, vegetarian chili and fruit and oatmeal muffins.
It is normal for young children to refuse to eat new foods, change their minds about foods they ate before, or want the same food every day. Continue to have meals and snacks at the same time each day and include a variety of foods.
Continue to offer food without pressure. You are responsible for what foods are offered, when and where. Your child is responsible for if they eat and how much.
If you have questions or concerns, talk to your health care provider or dietitian.
You may also be interested in:
How to Build a Healthy Preschooler (3 to 5 years)
Picky Eating: 10 Fun Tips to Get Kids to Try New Foods
Cooking with Kids of Different Ages
Last Update – September 8, 2019