3 to 5 years
At this stage, youngsters develop tastes for their favorite foods. Picky eaters can be obstinate about their food likes and dislikes. This is the ideal time to establish lifelong healthy nutritional habits. Be persistent. Studies show that it can take between 10 and 15 tastes of a food before a child accepts it or likes it.
Preschool Care at Wellstar
Since birth, your child’s height and weight have been charted and compared to national growth norms of children the same age (by percentile) at well-baby checkups. The preschool years are a time when a growing number of youngsters are first identified as overweight. A child’s body mass index (BMI) can flag future obesity.
If your child receives this diagnosis, Wellstar’s pediatric and nutritionist team can help your entire family successfully manage this condition. Efforts to change eating habits often include other family members, too. Children with overweight parents are at an elevated risk of becoming overweight. Wellstar can give you guidelines to adopt healthier foods, physical activities, and appetites for winning the food fight for life.
Preschool-age children can be busy, opinionated dynamos. Whether they express a preference for a beloved toy or a particular color (e.g. all pink), three to five year-olds are growing their intellect and motor skills and social independence. At age three, kids are tackling the following milestones. At age five, they’re masters.
- Climbs well
- Bends over without falling
- Walks up and down stairs, alternating feet
- Kicks ball and runs easily
- Pedals tricycle
- Imitates adults and playmates
- Shows affection for familiar playmates
- Takes turns in games
- Understands "mine" and "his”/ “hers"
- Makes mechanical toys work
- Plays make believe
- Sorts objects by shape and color
- Completes age-appropriate puzzles
Wellness visits to Wellstar’s pediatric physicians provide opportunities to ensure that your child is growing up healthy, gets immunizations, and time for you to ask questions.
How Is Your Child Currently Doing?
- How is your preschooler’s overall health?
- Does your preschooler seem to have an abnormal appetite?
- What foods does your child routinely refuse to eat?
- Does your preschooler demand certain foods?
- Does your child eat meals and snacks at regular times?
- Is your child physically active, particularly when compared with other children the same age?
- What activities does your preschooler participate in?
- Does your preschooler watch TV? How many hours on a typical day?
- Does your child have a TV in their bedroom?
- Does your preschooler watch TV during meals daily?
What is Going Well?
- Using the previous information, list areas that are going well relative to your child’s health.
- What steps have you taken to lower the levels of dietary fat in your youngster’s diet?
- How many six-ounce glasses of milk (whole / 2 percent /1 percent / skim) does your child drink daily?
What Problems Exist?
- What childhood health issues are raising concerns?
- Do you have any worries about your child’s appetite?
- Is your child a picky eater, shunning certain food groups?
- How often does your family eat at fast-food restaurants in a typical week?
- What other nutrition-related issues concern you?
- Is it difficult to get your child to be physically active?
What Changes Should Be Made?
- What obstacles are preventing you from resolving the issues that you’ve identified?
- What steps could you begin taking to ensure that your child eats healthier, more balanced meals?
- What measures could you use to lower the levels of dietary fat in your youngster’s diet?
- How can you integrate more activity into your child’s life?
Choose a single problem you’d like to deal with and identify and list solutions to it. Next, begin to implement these strategies and record your successes. Also, identify who can support you and your child in these efforts (for example, spouse, relatives).
Based on your answers in this assessment, write down questions and concerns that you’d like to raise with your pediatrician about your preschooler’s nutrition, physical activity, and other issues relevant to their health. Take this list with you to your next doctor’s visit.
Physical Appearance and Growth
Preschoolers come in all shapes and sizes. Growth patterns vary, but you can expect some changes as your preschooler loses baby fat and develops muscle. You may notice:
- Body looks stronger and more mature. Arms and legs are slender and upper body is more narrow and tapered.
- Gains in height may occur quicker than weight. “Skinny” children fill out gradually as their muscles develop.
- In general, a preschooler’s growth gradually slows both in weight and height.
- After age two, children the same age can vary noticeably in size. If the weight gain is rapid, or if height doesn’t increase in six months, consult your pediatrician.
- Facial features become larger, and features are more distinct as upper and lower jaws make room for permanent teeth.
- Some children this age still have a rounded baby belly or pear-shape.
Good nutrition is an important part of your child’s healthy lifestyle. Stock up on low-sodium, low-sugar, and low-fat products. And, limit junk food in your child’s diet.
Focus on foods with good nutritional value:
- Fresh vegetables and fruits
- Non-fat or low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheeses)
- Lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef)
- Whole-grain cereals and bread.
Television advertising can be an obstacle to your preschooler’s good nutrition. Some studies indicate that children who watch more than 22 hours of TV per week have a greater tendency to become obese.
Children who are much heavier than their playmates may be eating larger portions, larger meals, and snacking more often. They might also be watching more hours of television and spending fewer hours being physically active.
Most children don’t need vitamin supplements. There are few instances in which a child’s diet is likely to leave him/her truly deficient. Consider the following facts:
- Even for the pickiest of eaters, it doesn’t take more than a very few bites from each of the basic food groups for children to get their recommended daily dose.
- Many vitamins can be stored in the body. A balanced diet may be distributed spread over a week or two.
- Those parents who are most likely to give multivitamins are also most likely to be feeding their children healthy diets in the first place.
- Many foods are fortified, for example: vitamin D fortified milk, margarine, and pudding; and the calcium added to orange juice, cereals and breads.