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National Nutrition Month: How many calories should your child be eating?

March 28, 2018 Updated: September 8, 2020

Pinwheel Party Snacks

March is National Nutrition Month, a time to focus on healthy eating and and proper nutrition. We’ve been sharing helpful tips from the USDA’s MyPlate program. For more on the MyPlate program and to find more healthy recipes, fun activities, and meal planning materials, go to www.choosemyplate.gov. 

Young Children

According to the USDA MyPlate Guide, the healthy number of calories a preschooler needs are:

AGESEXDAILY PHYSICAL ACTIVITYCALORIE LEVEL OF FOOD PLAN
2 yrsBoys and GirlsAny level1000 calories
3 yrsBoysLess than 30 minutes1200 calories
30-60 minutes, More than 60 minutes1400 calories
GirlsLess than 30 minutes1000 calories
30-60 minutes1200 calories
More than 60 minutes1400 calories
4-5 yrsBoys and GirlsLess than 30 minutes1200 calories
30-60 minutes1400 calories
BoysMore than 60 minutes1600 calories
GirlsMore than 60 minutes1400 calories

Getting Older Children Involved

You may need some patience when first getting your young chef familiar with the kitchen, but the long-term benefits will pay off as it provides a good opportunity to teach about healthy eating and the importance of sharing household duties.

Here’s a few tips from the MyPlate program to help get young chefs involved:

1.) Create a yogurt sundae!

Top plain, low-fat or fat-free yogurt with fresh, frozen, or canned fruit, like bananas, strawberries, or peaches. Sprinkle whole-grain cereal on top for crunch.

2.) Make pita pockets

Stuff a small whole-wheat pita with sliced bell peppers, salsa, and a slice of low-fat cheese. Melt in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.

3.) Jazz up your favorite cereal

Make a trail mix! Stir 1/4 cup of unsalted nuts, 1/4 cup of dried raisins or cranberries, and 1/4 cup of whole-grain cereal together.

4.) Make a fruit sandwich

Cut an apple into thin slices. Spread peanut butter or almond butter between two slices to create “apple sandwiches.”

5.) Dip your veggies

Create veggie treats by dipping slices of cucumbers, peppers, and carrots in a low-fat salad dressing or hummus.

6.) Pack an afterschool snack

For a healthy afterschool snack, keep a fruit cup packed in 100% juice or water in your bag. Some fresh fruit, like bananas and oranges, are also easy to pack and eat any time.

You don’t have to wait for a party to make these “party pinwheels.” The bite sized sandwich roll ups also make great snacks.

7.) Try a piece of cheesy toast!

Toast a slice of whole-wheat bread and top with a slice of your favorite low-fat cheese.

8.) Freeze your fruit

For a frozen treat on hot days, try freezing grapes or bananas! Don’t forget to peel bananas and pull grapes from the stem before freezing.

9.) Power up with ‘roll-ups’

Roll a slice of low-salt deli turkey or ham around an apple wedge or around a slice of low-fat cheese.

10.) Build a fruit salad

Mix your favorite sliced fruits such as pineapple, grapes, and melon.