Date of this Version



© 1998, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


This NebGuide defines nutritional needs and healthy eating patterns for children ages 2 to 5.

Children Grow at Their Own Rate

Children move though growth spurts throughout childhood. Usually, a child will grow about 2 1/2 inches and gain about four or five pounds each year between the ages of 2 and 5. By 15 months old, most children have developed enough fine motor skills to feed themselves without help, if allowed to do so. Appetites vary with young children as well as adults. Parents and caregivers need to help promote a healthy pattern of eating rather than using controlling techniques such as restricting food intake of heavier children or pressuring smaller children to eat more. Attitudes and habits formed during the early childhood years can help establish lifelong health habits.