Do your best
Your child will not starve
Get a variety of foods over the course of a week
Food preferences change quickly at this age, keep introducing foods even if they don't like them at first.
OK, now we can get to the technical stuff.
Children ages 3 through 5 years old generally need about 1200 to 1800 calories a day, but those who are very active may need as many as 2000 calories.¹ They can meet their basic nutritional needs by eating the types and amounts of foods listed below each day. The lower end of the range provides 1200 calories, the higher end provides 1800 calories. These are general guidelines only.
- Offer whole grains half the time (1 ounce equivalent = Examples: whole wheat bread, 1 slice bread; ½ cup cooked whole grain pasta, brown rice, cereal, rice, pasta; ¾ to 1 cup oatmeal, whole grain barley, ready-to-eat low sugar cereal) whole grain wheat flakes cereal
Vegetables: 1-½ to 2-½ cups
- Offer a variety of colors and types of vegetables daily
Fruits: 1 to 1-½ cups
- Make most choices fruit, (½ cup dried fruit = not juice, preferably unsweetened 1 cup fruit)
Milk: 2 to 3 cups
- Offer fat free or low fat (1 cup yogurt or 1-½ ounces types most often cheese = 1 cup milk)
Meats and Beans: 3 to 5 ounce equivalents
- Offer a variety of choices (1 ounce equivalent = 1 ounce each week fish, seafood, skinless poultry, lean beef and pork; 1 egg; 1 Tbsp. peanut butter; ¼ c. cooked dried beans)
Oils: 4 to 5 teaspoons
- Best sources are fatty fish, nuts, seeds, cooking oil (like canola, olive, and soybean oil)
Extra calories: 180 calories
- Best sources are extra foods from the 5 main food groups; limit added sugars
- Offer in place of sweetened drinks