Dietitian's Food Series: What Should My Four-Year-Old Be Eating?
With the exception of volume and the added experience of training a four-year-old to get ready for school, there actually isn’t a huge difference between the eating habits of a three to four-year-old. The average four-year-old is active, and as such will alternate between periods of intense hunger to showing little interest in food. Bear in mind this is completely normal! The key thing at this age is to establish good meal time habits, and to help prepare for a more regular food routine when they start primary school.
Nutritious breakfast options at this age include quality breakfast cereals, oats served with yoghurt and fruit, or wholegrain toast with a nutritious topping such as cheese, avocado or an egg. Smoothies also remain a good option, especially if you are having difficulty getting your four-year-old to eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables each day. Some of my favourite breakfast recipe options for four-year-olds include:
While hot options may be on the menu, a simple lunch consisting of a sandwich or a wrap is also a good alternative. Tuna or chicken offer protein-rich lunch options. And, if your four-year-old likes sushi, keep an eye out for brown rice options. Alternatively, a little pasta with tuna or a toasted sandwich are warming and filling lunch options as well. Some of my favourite lunch recipe options for four-year-olds include:
At this age it can often be tough to find nutritious processed snack food options. My best go-tos are small wholegrain muesli bars, roasted broad beans or frozen yoghurt sticks.
By four-years children should be enjoying dinner with the family. This means they will be eating small palm-sized serves of meat, chicken or fish, along with at least one cup of vegetables or salad. At-home meals including Mexican bowls, pizza, veggie chips and san choi bau, are all novel (and nutritious!) meal options that children will enjoy eating. Some of my favourite dinner recipe options for four-year-olds include:
- Lettuce Cups
- Chicken Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
While not necessary to eat again after dinner, if your four-year-old is staying up later and wants a snack before bed, some cheese plain yoghurt or a glass of warm milk are all good choices.