Nutritious food for 3 year old baby

Feeding & Nutrition Tips: Your 3-Year-Old

Log in | Register


Ages & Stages

Ages & Stages



Text Size

​It's important to help your children develop a healthy attitude toward eating at an early age. By age three, children are less likely to use eating—or not eating—to be defiant. Generally, (although almost certainly not always), they will learn to better interact, participate, and enjoy family meals.  

5 Tips for Parents:

  • Accept strong preferences about foods. Your three-year-old may be enthusiastic about eating, but he or she may have very specific food preferences. Some preferences may vary from day to day. For example, your child may gobble down a particular food one day, and then push away the same food the next day. She may ask for a certain food for several days in a row, and then insist that she doesn't like it anymore. As irritating as this behavior can feel, it is very typical for a three-year-old. It is best not to make an issue of it. Instead, continue to offer a variety of healthy foods, and let your child choose which of them and how much he or she will eat.

  • Encourage, but don't force trying new foods. Offer very small amounts of a new food for your child to taste (an "adventure bite"), along with other foods he or she already likes. Do not expect your child to eat a full portion of an unfamiliar food.

  • Offer nutritious food choices at every meal. As a parent, your job is to make sure that your three-year-old has nutritious food choices at every meal. After offering healthy options at the table, let him or her make the decision of how much to eat. If your child shows picky eating preferences—resisting vegetables, for example—don't get discouraged or frustrated. Keep offering a variety of healthy foods, even if your child did not like them before. Developing a taste for foods can require up to 15-20 repeated exposures. This is also an important time to establish healthy snacking and meal habits.

  • Meals can be simple and nutritious. Remember, meals at this age don't need to be fancy. In fact, most three-year-olds prefer simpler preparation. If you only a few minutes to prepare a meal, try simple meals that include a protein source, whole grain, fruit, vegetable, and dairy. For example, a turkey or peanut butter sandwich, a serving of carrots, an apple, and a glass of milk. A simple lunch like this takes less time to prepare than driving through a fast-food restaurant—and it is much healthier!

  • Turn off the TV—especially at mealtimes. Television advertising can be a big challenge to your three-year-old's good nutrition. Young children are easily influenced by ads for unhealthy foods like sugary cereals, fast food, and sweets. The best way to avoid this is put in place a "media curfew" at mealtime and bedtime, putting all devices away or plugging them into a charging station for the night.

Additional Information from

  • Feeding & Nutrition Tips: 4-to 5-Year-Olds

  • 5 Great Reasons to Cook with Your Kids 

  • Preschoolers' Diets Shouldn't Be Fat-Free: Here's Why

  • Sample Menu for a Preschooler

  • 15 Tips to Survive the Terrible 3's​

Last Updated
Section on Obesity (Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics)

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Follow Us

Back to Top

Sample Meal Plan for Feeding Your Preschooler (Ages 3 to 5)


Many dietitians offer services virtually and they are covered by most employee health benefit plans. Find a dietitian here.

Need some ideas to feed your preschooler?  Use these sample meal plans and tips on healthy eating to help you feed your little one.

What should I feed my preschooler?

Preschoolers between the ages of 3 and 5 are able to eat a variety of healthy foods. Offer your child the same foods that the rest of the family eats. Offer foods with different tastes, textures and colours according to Canada’s Food Guide.

How much should my preschooler eat?

Let your child decide how much to eat from the foods you offer. Do not force your child to eat or restrict the amount of food you allow them to eat. Some days they might eat more. Some days they might eat less. A child’s appetite can change from day to day.

Use the sample meals below as general guidelines only. Plan meals and snacks around the same time each day so your child will be hungry when it’s time to eat.

Sample Meals for Preschoolers: 3 to 5 years old

Sample Menu 1 


Mini mushroom omelettes or breakfast cups
Strawberries and banana slices

Morning Snack

Quark and berries parfait


Cream of parsnip and carrot soup
100% whole wheat unsalted crackers or pita bread
Raw vegetables (carrots, celery sticks, red pepper slices) with salad dressing for dipping

Afternoon Snack

Apple slices with nut butter or cheddar cheese


Mini meatballs
Whole wheat pasta with tomato and vegetable pasta sauce

Bedtime Snack

Granola and fruit bites

Sample Menu 2 


Oatmeal pancakes with apple sauce

Morning Snack

Yogurt and fruit smoothie


Tuna grilled cheese or mini sandwiches on multigrain bread or whole wheat crackers
Cucumber slices with dip
Orange wedges

Afternoon Snack

Hummus with raw vegetables (carrots, celery sticks, red pepper slices) baked tortilla chips or whole wheat pita bread


Tofu vegetable stir fry with brown rice 

Bedtime Snack

Chocolate and almond bliss bars

Children and high mercury fish

For children between one and four years of age limit frozen/fresh tuna, shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy and escolar to 75 grams per month. These fish contain high levels of mercury. Young children between five and 11 years of age can have up to 125 grams of these large, predatory fish per month.

For children between one to four years of age limit albacore (“white”) canned tuna to 75 grams per week. Young children between five and 11 years of age can consume up to 150 grams or albacore (“white”) tuna per week. Albacore ("white") canned tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. 

Tips for feeding your preschooler (3 to 5 years)

  • Let your child decide what and how much to eat from the foods your offer. Continue to offer a variety of familiar foods and new foods at each meal.
  • Always supervise your child while eating. Cut foods into bite size pieces to avoid choking.
  • You can switch from full fat milk (3.25%) to skim, 1% or 2% milk. Fortified soy, rice, almond or coconut beverages can also be introduced at this age. Use this chart to see the nutrients in different milks and beverages.
  • Offer water between meals. Sipping on milk or juice between meals can decrease appetite. If you give your child juice, offer 100% fruit juice and limit it to 4 - 6 oz (125-175 mL) a day.
  • Eat meals and snacks prepared at home more often. Prepare healthy homemade recipes. Try chicken tacos, vegetarian chili and fruit and oatmeal muffins.

Bottom Line

It is normal for young children to refuse to eat new foods, change their minds about foods they ate before, or want the same food every day. Continue to have meals and snacks at the same time each day and include a variety of foods. 

Continue to offer food without pressure. You are responsible for what foods are offered, when and where. Your child is responsible for if they eat and how much.

If you have questions or concerns, talk to your health care provider or dietitian.

You may also be interested in:

How to Build a Healthy Preschooler (3 to 5 years)
Picky Eating: 10 Fun Tips to Get Kids to Try New Foods
Cooking with Kids of Different Ages

Last Update – May 16, 2022

how to feed a child aged 3-7 years - "Healthy Child Internet Cabinet"

Nina Anatolyevna Toritsyna

Chief Children's Dietitian of the Health Department of the Administration of Yekaterinburg

From birth, the baby, along with food, receives useful substances that form it immunity and ensure normal development. At preschool age, proper nutrition is also very important for the child to endure school loads in the future comfortably, be healthy and active.

Most children aged 3 to 7 spend most of their time in kindergarten, which is responsible for organizing a balanced diet in accordance with age. It is necessary to observe the principles of rational nutrition at home:

Important: strict adherence to the diet!

  • the menu should be varied;
  • nutrition should supply the child's body with energy, trace elements, vitamins and other useful substances;
  • food must be properly handled and prepared (boiled, steamed, stewed, baked).

In order for the child to grow up active, mobile and healthy, it is important for parents to provide his menu with the main useful substances and monitor the sufficient number of calories :

3 years 4-6 years 7 years 900 32 9004

Where are kept


Animal proteins: meat, fish, milk and dairy products, eggs. Vegetable proteins: bread, cereals, legumes, vegetables


Butter and vegetable oil, milk and dairy products, meat, fish


Sugar, fruits, confectionery

In addition to the above useful substances, the child should receive trace elements and minerals . They are responsible for the proper development and functioning of the whole organism.

Table of the average daily norm of the physiological need of the body for the main micro and macro elements




(products containing the element)

Daily allowance for children 3-7 years old


Formation of bones and teeth, blood coagulation systems, processes of muscle contraction and nervous excitation. Normal heart function.

Milk, kefir, fermented baked milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese.

800-1100 mg


Participates in the construction of bone tissue, the processes of storage and transmission of hereditary information, the conversion of the energy of food substances into the energy of chemical bonds in the body. Maintains acid-base balance in the blood.

Fish, meat, cheese, cottage cheese, cereals, legumes.

800-1650 mg


Synthesis of protein, nucleic acids, regulation of energy and carbohydrate-phosphorus metabolism.

Buckwheat, oatmeal, millet, green peas, carrots, beets, lettuce, parsley.

150-250 mg

sodium and potassium

They create conditions for the emergence and conduction of a nerve impulse, muscle contractions and other physiological processes in the cell.

Table salt is sodium. Meat, fish, cereals, potatoes, raisins, cocoa, chocolate - potassium.

Not exactly established


A component of hemoglobin, the transport of oxygen in the blood.

Meat, fish, eggs, liver, kidneys, legumes, millet, buckwheat, oatmeal. Quince, figs, dogwood, peaches, blueberries, rose hips, apples.

10-12 mg


Necessary for normal hematopoiesis and metabolism of connective tissue proteins.

Beef liver, seafood, legumes, buckwheat and oatmeal, pasta.

1 - 2 mg


Participates in the construction of thyroid hormone, provides physical and mental development, regulates the state of the central nervous system, cardiovascular system and liver.

Seafood (sea fish, seaweed, seaweed), iodized salt.

0.06 - 0.10 mg


Essential for normal growth, development and puberty. Maintaining normal immunity, sense of taste and smell, wound healing, absorption of vitamin A.

Meat, ryaba, eggs, cheese, buckwheat and oatmeal.

5-10 m

A sufficient amount of vitamins in the daily diet of children is the key to the proper functioning of all vital processes.

Vitamins are practically not synthesized by the body itself, so parents must always control that they are supplied to the child in sufficient quantities with food. At the same time, their insufficient amount can cause a number of diseases.

Table of the average daily norm of the physiological need of the body for basic vitamins



Foods containing the vitamin

Daily allowance for children 3-7 years old

B vitamins

IN 1

Necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous system, cardiac and skeletal muscles, organs of the gastrointestinal tract. Participates in carbohydrate metabolism.

Wholemeal bread, cereals, legumes (peas, beans, soybeans), liver and other offal, yeast, meat (pork, veal).

0.8 - 1.0 mg

IN 2

Maintains the normal properties of the skin, mucous membranes, normal vision and blood formation.

Milk and dairy products (cheese, cottage cheese), eggs, meat (beef, veal, poultry, liver), cereals, bread.

0.9 - 1.2 mg

AT 6

Supports the normal properties of the skin, the functioning of the nervous system, hematopoiesis.

Wheat flour, millet, liver, meat, fish, potatoes, carrots, cabbage.

0.9 - 1.3 mg

AT 12

Supports hematopoiesis and normal functioning of the nervous system.

Meat, fish, offal, egg yolk, seafood, cheese.

1 - 1.5 mcg

PP (niacin)

Functioning of the nervous, digestive systems, maintaining normal skin properties.

Buckwheat, rice groats, wholemeal flour, legumes, meat, liver, kidneys, fish, dried mushrooms.

10-13 mg

Folic acid

Hematopoiesis, body growth and development, protein and nucleic acid synthesis, prevention of fatty liver.

Wholemeal flour, buckwheat and oatmeal, millet, beans, cauliflower, green onions, liver, cottage cheese, cheese.

100-200 mcg


Regeneration and healing of tissues, maintaining resistance to infections and the action of poisons. Hematopoiesis, permeability of blood vessels.

Fruits and vegetables: rose hips, black currants, sweet peppers, dill, parsley, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, mountain ash, apples, citrus fruits.

45-60 mg

A (retinol, retinal, retinoic acid)

Necessary for normal growth, development of cells, tissues and organs, normal visual and sexual function, ensuring normal skin properties.

Liver of marine animals and fish, liver, butter, cream, sour cream, cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, carrots, tomatoes, apricots, green onions, lettuce, spinach.

450-500 mcg


Participates in the processes of calcium and phosphorus metabolism, accelerates the process of calcium absorption, increases its concentration in the blood, provides deposition in the bones.

Butter, chicken eggs, liver, liver fat from fish and marine animals.

10-2.5 mcg


Antioxidant, supports the work of cells and subcellular structures.

Sunflower, corn, soybean oil, cereals, eggs.

5-10 mg

Thus, the diet of a preschool child should include all food groups.


It is best to make a menu for a child a few days in advance, so parents can make sure that it turns out to be varied and contains the necessary nutrients.

Here is a sample menu for children from 3 to 7 years old for week :

Day of the week




afternoon tea


Second dinner


Buckwheat porridge with milk
Coffee drink with milk
Bread with cheese

Juice or fruit

Shchi with sour cream
Meatballs with pasta
Dried fruit compote


Carrot-apple casserole
Tea with milk

Fermented milk product


Fish baked with vegetables
Mashed potatoes
Coffee drink with milk
Bread and butter

Juice or fruit

Vitamin salad
Vegetable soup
Homemade roast
Kissel from apples


Curd casserole
Tea with milk

Fermented milk product


Milk rice porridge
Coffee drink with milk
Bread and cheese

Juice or fruit

Beet-apple salad
Peasant soup
Meat cutlet
Boiled cauliflower
Kissel milk


Braised cabbage

Fermented milk product


Macaroni with grated cheese
Coffee drink with milk
Bread and butter

Juice or fruit

Green Pea Salad
Goulash with buckwheat porridge
Dried fruits compote

Cheesecake with cottage cheese

Vegetable stew
Boiled egg

Fermented milk product


Herculean milk porridge
Boiled egg
Coffee drink with milk
Bread and butter

Juice or fruit

Carrot-apple salad
Borscht with sour cream
Fish balls
Boiled potatoes


Cheese pancakes with sour cream
Tea with milk

Fermented milk product


Barley milk porridge
Coffee drink with milk
Bread with cheese

juice or fruit

Cabbage-apple salad
Boiled rice with vegetables, with meat
Kissel from fruit


Fritters (pancakes) with jam

Fermented milk product


Fish in Polish
Boiled potatoes
Coffee drink with milk
Bread and butter

Juice or fruit

Carrot salad
Chicken broth with croutons
Boiled chicken with rice and stewed beets
Rosehip decoction

Homemade bun

Vegetable casserole
Tea with milk

Fermented milk product

How to teach a child the correct behavior at the table?

From the age of 3, it's time to teach the baby to behave properly at the table. First of all, this will save him from the difficulties with food in kindergarten.

  1. The child should sit straight at the table without resting their elbows on the table.
  2. Teach your child how to hold and use a spoon, fork, and drink gently from a cup.
  3. The child should chew food thoroughly, chew with the mouth closed, and not talk while eating.
  4. Teach your child to first check if the food or drink is too hot, blow on the food if it is hot.
  5. Children should not be distracted by television or toys while eating. The child must be calm.
  6. Teach your child etiquette: say "thank you", get up from the table when he is allowed, wash hands before eating.

And remember: your personal example in everything is the main thing!

Union of Pediatricians of Russia

Nutrition for children from 1 to 3 years

The period from 1 to 3 years of life is a crucial stage in the transition to an adult type of nutrition, which has certain features. In order to ensure that all the necessary nutrients enter the child's body and at the same time prevent an excess of individual nutrients, nutrition should be balanced and varied.

The daily amount of food for children aged 1 to 1.5 years should be 1000-1200 g, from 1.5 to 3 years - 1200-1500, the amount of food in one feeding should not exceed 300-350 ml. The diet consists of three main meals per day and two snacks. It is considered optimal when breakfast is 25% of the total energy density of the diet, lunch is 30–35%, dinner is 20%, and additional meals are about 10%. In general, the child can eat the same food as the rest of the family.

In the diet of a child of 1-3 years of age , must be present daily: animal or poultry meat, dairy and sour-milk products, vegetables, fruits, bread, cereals, vegetable and butter; fish and eggs are included in the diet 2-3 times a week.

Cereal products: bread - 2-3 servings per day, cereals and side dishes - 1 time per day
Fruit and/or vegetables: at least 5 times a day
Dairy products: at least 3 servings per day (including those used to make cereals, yoghurts, fermented milk drinks, cottage cheese, infant formula or breast milk).

Domestic pediatricians recommend, when compiling a diet for children aged 1–3 years, preference should be given to specialized children's dairy products of industrial production that meet high quality requirements and safety indicators for this age. Most children's dairy products are additionally enriched with vitamins and/or minerals and other biologically active components, taking into account the physiological needs of children of this age. At the same time, in foreign recommendations, children over 1 year old are offered the gradual introduction of whole cow's milk, which is rich in fats necessary for proper growth and development, the absorption of vitamins A and D, the development of the brain and nervous system of the child.

Meat dishes: 2-3 times a day
Fish dishes: 2-3 servings per week
Eggs: 2-3 per week
Dietary fats: 3-4 teaspoons of butter and/or vegetable oils per day

When cooking, use the minimum amount of salt and sugar, and do not add them to industrial products.

Learn more