Healthy Children - November 2018

Portions for Preschoolers

At child care centers, the amount of food served at meals and snacks depends on the age of the child. A reasonable portion for preschoolers is smaller than teens for adults.

The chart below shows how portions compare for adults and preschoolers. It may not look like a lot, but the amounts shown below are just right for preschoolers’ small stomachs and energy needs.

 

Preschooler

Adult

Breakfast 

- 1/2 cup breakfast cereal
- ½ cup sliced strawberries
- ¾ cup low-fat (1%) milk

- 1-cup breakfast cereal flakes
- 1 slice of whole-wheat bread
- 1 cup low-fat (1%) milk 

Dinner

- 1 ½ ounce oven-baked chicken
- ¼ cup baked sweet potatoes
- ¼ cup cooked brown rice
- ¼ cup fruit salad
- ¾ cup low-fat (1%) milk

- 2 ounces oven-baked chicken
- ½ cup baked sweet potatoes
- ½ cup cooked brown rice
- ½ cup fruit salad
- 1 dinner roll
- 1-cup low-fat (1%) milk 

Teaching Healthy Eating Habits

Offer preschool-sized portions. This helps your child learn to pay attention to whether he or she feels hungry or full. Smaller amounts help your child only eat what his or her body needs. If your child is still hungry, he or she will ask for more. When your child is served smaller amounts, less food is wasted.

Helpful Tips for feeding your preschooler:

  • Use smaller bowls, plates, and cups for smaller portions
  • Let your child practice serving himself or herself smaller portions.
  • Do not force your child to finish everything on his or her plate

Sample portion sizes by types of foods

At home, you can use the chart below as a general guide for the amount of particular food to serve at meals. Children’s appetites vary from day-to-day. Some days they may eat less than these portion amounts; other days they may want more.

Preschool Portions

Dairy

  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup yogurt
  • 1 ½ ounce of cheese

Vegetables

  • ¼ to ½ cup vegetables
  • ½ to 1 cup raw, leafy green vegetables (such as a salad)

Fruits

  • ¼ to ½ cup fruits
  • 1/8 to ¼ cup dried fruit

Grains      

  • ¼ cup cooked rice or pasta
  • ½ slice of bread
  • ¼ cup of cooked breakfast cereal

Protein Foods

  • ½ to 1 ½ ounce lean meat, poultry, or fish
  • ½ to 1 ½ ounce of tofu
  • 1/8 to 3/8 cup cooked beans
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons peanut butter (spread thinly to prevent choking)
  • ¼ to ¾ of a large egg