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Baby's Diet  

Preschool Nutrition

You should now be giving your child homogenized whole cow's milk. You can also begin to use 2%, low fat, or skim milk instead. Your child's diet should resemble that of the rest of the families, with 3 meals and 2 nutritious snacks each day. You should limit milk and dairy products to about 16oz each day and 100% fruit juice to about 4-6 oz each day and offer a variety of foods to encourage good eating habits later.

Feeding practices to avoid are continuing to use a bottle, giving large amounts of sweet deserts, soft drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, sugarcoated cereals, chips or candy, as they have little nutritional value. Also avoid giving foods that your child can choke on, such as raw carrots, peanuts, whole grapes, tough meats, popcorn, chewing gum or hard candy.


Your child's nutrition is important to her overall health. Proper nutrition can also prevent many medical problems, including becoming overweight, developing weak bones, and developing diabetes. It will also ensure that your child physically grows to her full potential.

The best nutrition advise to keep your child healthy includes encouraging her to:

  • Eat a variety of foods
  • Balance the food you eat with physical activity
  • Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables and fruits
  • Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol
  • Choose a diet moderate in sugars and salt
  • Choose a diet that provides enough calcium and iron to meet their growing body's requirements.

You can also help promote good nutrition by setting a good example. Healthy eating habits and regular exercise should be a regular part of your family's life. It is much easier if everyone in the house follows these guidelines, than if your child has to do it alone. You should also buy low-calorie and low-fat meals, snacks and deserts, low fat or skim milk and diet drinks. Avoid buying high calorie deserts or snacks, such as snack chips, regular soft drinks or regular ice cream.

The Food Guide Pyramid for young children was designed by the US Dept. of Agriculture to promote healthy nutrition in children over two years of age. It is meant to be a general guide to daily food choices. The main emphasis of the food pyramid is on the five major food groups, all of which are required for good health. It also emphasizes that foods that include a lot of fats, oils and sweets should be used very sparingly.


What counts as one serving?

To ensure good nutrition in your child and that they grow up healthy, they will need to eat a large variety of foods. The amount of foods that they eat is much less important. Remember that your child's appetite may decrease and become pickier over the next few years as his growth rate slows. As long as they are gaining weight and have a normal activity level, then you have little to worry about. You can still offer them a variety of foods, but can decrease the serving sizes if they don't eat a lot.

Grain group servings include 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta, 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, and 1 ounce of ready to eat cereal. Your child should eat 6 servings from this group.

Vegetable group servings include 1/2 cup of chopped or raw vegetables, or 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables. Your child should eat 3 servings from this group.

Fruit group servings include 1 piece of fruit or melon wedge, 3/4 cup of 100% fruit juice, 1/2 cup of canned fruit, or 1/4 cup of dried fruit. Your child should eat 2 servings from this group.

Milk group servings include 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 2 ounces of cheese. Your child should eat 2 servings from this group.

Meat group servings include 2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish, 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans. You can substitute 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or 1 egg for 1 ounce of meat. Your child should eat 2 servings from this group.

Fats, Oils and Sweets

No more than 30% of your diet should come from fats. For a 1600 calorie diet, that would equal 53g of fat each day, with most preschool children requiring even less. The type of fat that you eat is also important. Saturated fats in foods such as meats, dairy products, coconut, palm and palm kernal oil, raise cholesterol more than unsaturated fats, which are found in olive, peanut, and canola oils, or polyunsaturated fats in safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean and cottonseed oils. Limit saturated fats to no more than 10% of daily calories.

Sugars supply a large amount of calories, with little nutritional value. They include white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, honey and molasses and foods like candy, soft drinks, jams, and jellies.

Selection tips:

  • use lean meats and skim or lowfat dairy products
  • use unsaturated vegetable oils and margarines that list a liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient on the label
  • read the nutrition label on foods to check for the amount and type of fat it includes
  • limit foods that contain a large amount of saturated fats
  • limit foods high in sugar and avoid adding extra sugar to your foods

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