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New MyPyramid for pre-schoolers

Pre-school children can be the most enjoyable and the most frustrating of eaters.

A new section of the MyPyramid Web site offers strategies for getting these young children to eat the right amounts of the healthy foods they need. It is designed for care-givers of children 2 to 5 years of age and offers many excellent tips about monitoring growth, developing healthy eating habits, being physically active and selecting, storing and preparing food safely. The Web site has several links with lots of useful information.

Under the “Growing Up Healthy” section, caregivers can enter their child’s age, gender, height and weight and get a personalized BMI chart and height chart that compares their child to others in the same age group. The caretaker is then encouraged to discuss this chart with their health care provider.

In the “Developing Healthy Eating Habits” area, caretakers are provided with realistic suggestions for

• being good role models with their own eating habits,

• offering plenty of food variety,

• serving small portions,

• helping their children to become aware of their own satiety signals,

• following a meal plan and eating schedule and

• creating a happy eating environment with positive conversation starters.

Age appropriate meal plans and snacks patterns are offered for 1,000, 1,200, 1,400 and 1,600 calories. Tip sheets are provided on dealing with picky eaters and the child who resists new foods.

For physical activity, both indoor and outdoor activities options are provided and a strong argument is given for why the caretakers need to be active as well.

The food safety section discusses foods that need to be avoided to prevent food borne illness and choking, ways to teach hand washing skills, packing safe lunches, offering safe snacks and even handling of Easter eggs safely.

Included to help teach these concepts are a downloadable MyPyramid for Pre-Schoolers 8-by-11 poster, a sheet of bookmarks, a coloring sheet, and a handout for training parents and other childcare providers about what the MyPyramid for Pre-Schoolers Web site offers.

For more information on this topic visit the MyPyramid for Pre-Schoolers Web pages to learn more at http://www.mypyramid.gov/preschoolers/index.html.

Ann Hudgins is the UGA Cooperative Extension FACS Agent in Seminole County. She can reached by calling (229) 524-2326.