MyPlate for preschoolers
April 8, 2013


One important part of helping your child develop healthy eating habits is serving them appropriate portion sizes. Why does size matter? Obesity among preschoolers aged 2-5 years has more than doubled since the mid 1970s. Large food portions are thought to contribute to these trends by causing children to overeat at meals.

MyPlate was developed by the United States Department of Agricultural (USDA) to help children "eat well, be active and be healthy." MyPlate ( shows the types of foods and portions preschoolers should eat each day to get the energy, vitamins and minerals they need. For example, fruits and vegetables should cover about half of the child's plate.

The average preschooler will need somewhere between 1,200-1,600 calories each day. A fairly active preschooler will get a healthy balance of nutrients from eating the following food groups and servings per day:

(Based on 1400 kcal needs of a moderately active 3- to 5-year-old child; actual needs will vary from child to child)

What does this mean for preschooler portion sizes at snacks and meals?

There are many different ways to help preschoolers meet these recommendations each day. For instance, on one day a child might meet their recommended 1 1/2 cups of fruit by eating a banana strawberry smoothie at breakfast and some grapes at lunch. On another day, it might be a 1/2 cup of orange juice at breakfast, a 1/2 cup of applesauce at lunch and a 1/2 cup of pears at snack.


Paula Strawder is the families and health extension agent for the WVU Extension Service.


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