How to make meals interesting for your child?
Early childhood, which includes the preschool stage (2–5 years), is the phase of physical, emotional, and mental development and forms the foundation for the child’s future well-being. Adequate and wholesome nutrition plays a vital role during this stage. The kind of food or beverage a preschooler consumes affects his/her health. Children in the age range of 2-5 years have a daily energy requirement of approximately 1000 to 1400 calories per day.
To help support the child’s growth & development during this phase of life a preschooler needs to consume nutrient-dense meals, hence the diet should comprise of all the below-mentioned food groups in the right amounts:
Cereals, millets and pulses
- These are needed as they are an important source of energy and nutrients.
- Try and include whole grain products as part of their diet like multigrain cereals, whole wheat rotis, etc.
Milk, egg and fish
- Milk and milk products are an important source of calcium and protein. While the egg & meat products are a good source of protein & micronutrients too.
- The diet can comprise of some curd based smoothies, fruit yoghurts, egg rolls or sandwiches, lean meats like chicken and fish can be there as well as part of the diet.
Vegetables and fruits:
- Give your child fresh, seasonal and locally available fruits and vegetables.
- Leafy green vegetables need to feature too as part of the diet may be in the form of spinach paratha, soups, add your veggies to the cereal preparations, like vegetable upma, pulao, khichdi etc.
- Carrots, cucumber, beetroot can form excellent finger food as salad sticks can be served to the child with exciting dips.
Oils and fats:
- Include vegetable oils, butter and ghee in small amounts in your child’s diet.
- Nuts like walnuts, almonds need to be added to the diet. These can be in the form of a crushed nut with milk or added to fruit custard to provide some crunchy texture.
The below table illustrates the food portions that are recommended for children between 2-5 years of age which will enable you to better understand & plan the kind of foods that you need to incorporate in your child’s diet in the appropriate amounts.
Also remember, the key to getting all the food groups as part of your child’s diet is to include 3 main meals & 2 small meals as part of their diet. Use a variety of cooking methods like boiling, roasting, baking and steaming in order to introduce a variety of foods to your child.