The preschool age of 1-6 years is a period of rapid growth and development. Toddlers (1-2yrs) have a short attention span and are easily distracted from eating. They have limited muscle coordination. Their eating behavior can be describes as messy. As the child enters 3-5 yrs old group, attention span is longer and muscle coordination is better.
Children like adults enjoy attention and are quick to realize that food can be a powerful weapon for gaining such attention
Dietary Pattern :
- Young children have a high taste sensitivity. They prefer mildly flavored foods. Excess use of green chillies and other strong flavored spices and condiments should be avoided.
- The feel of food is important to young children and they enjoy foods that can be picked up with fingers such as sandwiches, strips of cheese, cutlets, pizzas, spring rolls, chapatiwrap, poories or narrow wedges of fruit etc.
- The diet should include variety of foods. Frequent change is likely to furnish a well balanced diet.
- Small serving of disfavoured food appetisingly prepared and accompanied by a favorite dessert/dish will encourage the child to eat. Encouragement and praise go much further than nagging.
- Preschool children are almost constantly active. Their interest is readily diverted from food. If they become over tired or excessively hungry, their appetites may lag a great deal. Therefore a selection of variety of foods from the milk, meat, veg., fruit and cereal groups provides a sound basis for the child’s diet. Some snacks in mid morning and mid afternoon are also advisable.
- For the younger child foods such as nuts and navy beans which are difficult to chew should be omitted.
- Distraction by interesting conversation is much to be preferred to coaxing or games which center around the child.
- Excessive use of fried foods and very sweet foods should be avoided as these may cause irritation of the gastro-intestinal tract and the latter predispose to dental caries.
- Milk which is generally disliked in this age group can be incorporated into puddings, custards or sweet desserts, cheese, yoghurts, shakes.