Healthy Habits for PreK and July Newsletter

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young child holding up glass to two adult hands also holding up glasses at table

Encouraging your child to create healthy habits in the early years can help them develop healthy dietary patterns. Parents can help this development by offering a variety of healthy food choices and encouraging a healthy relationship with eating. Below are a few tips for building healthy habits in early childhood. 

Offer a Variety

Preschoolers need a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and dairy (or dairy alternatives). Avoid offering too many processed foods that are low in nutrients and high in added salt and sugars. By offering a variety of whole foods mentioned above, your child will obtain the necessary nutrients and fiber needed in a healthy dietary pattern. 

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, offer a range of colors and types. Encourage your child to “eat a rainbow” of fruits and vegetables. These plant based food sources contain a range of phytochemicals in addition to the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they contain. These phytochemicals have protective benefits that are highly beneficial for health and preventing disease. Choose a variety of colors each day so that you are getting various benefits from the phytochemicals that exist in these foods. Eating a rainbow could look like snacking on carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, spinach leaves, blueberries, and purple cabbage at various points throughout the day. 

Go for whole grain to reap the benefits of unprocessed grains such as fiber, B vitamins, iron, folate, and other minerals. Whole grains include brown rice, popcorn, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta noodles, corn, etc. For more information about the food groups and resources for preschoolers, visit the MyPlate website here. The amount of food needed varies based on several factors. MyPlate offers several plans and resources on their website. Always consult with your child’s pediatrician or a registered dietitian about specific needs and concerns. 

Healthy Drink Choices

Drink options can sometimes contain a lot of calories and extra sugar with very little nutritional value. Encourage your child to choose drinks that will help them stay hydrated throughout the day as well as follow a healthy dietary pattern. Save 100% juice for an occasional option and go for water or dairy at meal time. Plain water can take a few tries for some children to accept just like some foods. You can try to add flavor to water by including slices of orange or other citrus, mint leaves, or frozen cubes of 100% juice. 

Encourage Food Safety

Handwashing is a healthy habit that is important for preventing the spread of germs and also for food safety. Teach your child when to wash hands (such as after using the bathroom, after touching their nose, or before eating) as well as the steps to proper handwashing. It seems straightforward to adults, but children need guidance to develop these healthy habits.

5 Steps to Handwashing:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply the soap. Turn off the faucet to save water. 
  2. Lather the soap by rubbing your hands together making sure to get the back of your hands, between the fingers, and your nails. 
  3. Lather and gently scrub for at least 20 seconds. (This is about the time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song.) 
  4. Rinse your hands under clean, running water. 
  5. Dry your hands on a clean towel. 

The Happy Handwashing Song below (and other similar resources) are made available by the CDC.

Limit Distractions

Family mealtimes are a great way to teach young children how to eat and help develop social skills and healthy relationships with eating. Limit distractions by making sure screens and TVs are turned off and away from the table. Make sure your child is facing other members at the table and talk to them throughout the meal time. This is a time where you can model making healthy food choices and mealtime expectations. 

This month’s Growing Together Newsletter includes an article on table manners as well as other tips for parents of young children. The last page of the newsletter includes an activity calendar for July. Download the pdf newsletter here: July Newsletter


  • USDA. (n.d.). Preschoolers. USDA MyPlate Nutrition Information for Preschoolers. 
  • American Heart Association. (2024, May 20). Get to know grains: Why you need them, and what to look for.
  • CDC. (2023, April 11). When and how to wash your hands. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.