Develop Healthy Eating Habits

Follow a Meal and Snack Schedule

Regularly scheduled meal and snack times help your preschooler learn structure for eating.

Your child is more likely to eat healthy meals and try new foods if snacks are not offered too close to mealtime.Dad and daughter setting table

Tips for Setting a Mealtime Schedule

  • Plan for 3 meals and 1 or 2 snacks each day. Preschoolers often do not eat enough at a meal to stay full until the next mealtime.
  • Make sure that the foods offered at each meal and snack contribute toward your child's needs. 
  • Set reasonable limits for the start and end of a meal. When you can see that your child is no longer interested in the meal, excuse him or her from the table.
  • Do not let your child have treats such as candy or cookies to make up for the meal not eaten.
  • Although schedules are helpful, it is also important to listen to your child. For example, if your child says he or she is hungry, offer a small, healthy snack. It's important to allow children to recognize when they are hungry or full.

More information on meals and snacks:

More on Healthy Eating Habits: