MyPlate for Preschoolers

Families, Food and Fitness September 25, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF


Healthy Portions for Preschoolers logo

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 logo

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 proportions  that preschoolers should eat each day to get the energy, vitamins, and minerals that they need. For example, fruits and vegetables should cover about half of the child’s plate.



The average preschooler will need somewhere between 1200-1600 calories each day.  A fairly active preschooler will get a healthy balance of nutrients from eating the following:

Food Group

        Serving per day*


1.5 cups


1.5 cups


5 oz

Meat or Meat alternative

4 oz


2.5 cups

*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 ½ cup of fruit by eating a banana strawberry smoothie at breakfast and some grapes at lunch. On another day, it might be a ½ cup of orange juice at breakfast, a ½ cup of applesauce at lunch, and a ½ cup of pears at snack.

Different ways for preschoolers to get their recommended 1 ½ cups of fruit each day

  Day 1 Day 2



Smoothie (1 banana, 1/2 cup berries)





1/2 cup orange juice




1/2 cup grapes

1/2 cup applesauce



1/2 cup diced pears




Healthy Portions for Preschoolers logo   More information on Healthy Portions for Preschoolers: 

MyPlate for Preschoolers

Teaching Children to Listen to Their Bodies


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.