5 year old feeding schedule: Amounts and food chart
At 5 years old, your child is transitioning from the preschool phase into the realm of being a big kid. Starting kindergarten can change the game a bit when it comes to feeding. Eating lunch at school as well as interactions with peers may influence your family’s feeding dynamic. Keep reading for all you need to know about feeding your five year old.
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5 year old child sample feeding schedule
Around 5 years old, you may begin to see your child become a more curious eater. Typically, picky eating tendencies start to fade a bit and kids at this age really enjoy being part of meal planning and prep. If you can, try to involve them by allowing them to do simple cooking tasks or let them help choose foods at the grocery store.
At this age, kids will eat roughly every 3 - 4 hours but may go longer between meals, especially if they are in school. Sometimes, we see a shift away from a morning snack once kindergarten starts and an uptick in the afternoon snack, particularly if kids are in school for a full day.
Below is a sample feeding schedule for a 5 year old. Use it as a guide, but know it may be adjusted to fit your family’s needs.
|Morning snack (optional)
How much to feed a 5 year old: Food chart
The key to feeding your five year old is to keep offering a variety of foods and to keep modeling healthy eating habits. Involve your child in making choices about their meal when possible. For example, let them choose either strawberries or blueberries with their oatmeal.
5 year old feeding chart
|Scrambled egg, toast, orange slices
|Crackers and cheese stick
|Turkey sandwich, banana, cucumber and hummus, chips
|Apple slices, peanut butter, pretzels
|Pesto pasta with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, bread
Tips for feeding your 5 year old
Tip #1: Eliminate distractions
As much as possible, eliminate distractions during mealtime. Turn off the TV, put away toys and phones, and allow your family to enjoy the time together. This not only allows your child to focus on eating but also helps them learn about table manners and practice having conversations with others.
Tip #2: Focus on breakfast
Breakfast is sometimes called the most important meal of the day and with good reason! Serving your child a balanced, protein-rich breakfast sets them up for success all day long, especially if they are headed to school. Research shows  that eating breakfast positively impacts kids’ school performance.
Tip #3: Create a meal and snack schedule
As your child becomes more independent, it can be tempting to leave more eating decisions to them. However, it is still best that the parent or caregiver sets the meal and snack schedule. This allows children to learn more about their body’s hunger and fullness cues as well as encourages them to eat more consciously at mealtime instead of grazing throughout the day.
Tip #4: Offer a variety of foods
Even though pickiness tends to fade a bit around five years old, kids can get stuck in food ruts sometimes. Adults do too! Do your best to offer a variety of foods and to try new foods with your child. They don’t have to like everything (neither do you!), but this builds skills to try new foods and to eat a variety of foods throughout their lifetime.
Tip #5: Involve kids in the kitchen
Cooking with kids can be messy, but it can also be fun and rewarding! When you can, involve your kiddo in the cooking process. Whether it’s helping plan meals, grocery shopping, or preparing a meal or snack, this involvement makes them more likely to try foods. Additionally, it helps teach them skills they will need in the future to make healthful eating decisions.
Night feedings for a 5 year old
Typically, five year olds should not need to eat overnight. Be sure to offer enough opportunities to eat throughout the day and watch out for foods that could make it difficult to sleep - such as foods or beverages containing caffeine, etc. If your child is struggling with night wakings from hunger, talk to your pediatrician.
At this age, early morning awakenings in children are often attributed to hunger, as it's challenging for many to go over 12 hours without eating. For example, a 5:30 PM dinner could mean a 5:30 AM wake-up. Even children who usually sleep well may find it difficult to return to sleep if they're hungry. If you’re dealing with early risings, consider having dinner a bit later or providing a nutritious snack before starting the bedtime routine.
Note that it’s common for kindergarteners to have sleep issues, whether they’re related to hunger or not. Consider submitting for a customized sleep plan through Huckleberry Premium if you’d like expert help and step-by-step guidance.
Eating with your five year old should be enjoyable, but may also bring about some changes as they start school. Keep enjoying a variety of foods together and include them in meal prep when possible. It’s all about instilling good habits at this age.
5 year old feeding schedule FAQ
Q: How often should a 5 year old eat?
Most five year olds need to eat every 3 - 4 hours although their appetite may vary throughout the day or from week to week. At this age, some kids no longer need a morning snack.
Q: How long between feeds can a 5 year old go?
A five year old usually eats every 3 - 4 hours, but may go longer depending on the child’s schedule. Typically, a child shouldn’t go longer than 4 - 5 hours without food on a regular basis. This ensures they have enough opportunities to eat during the day to support their energy needs.
Q: Can you drop night feeds at 5 years old?
Yes, healthy children can drop night feeds well before 5 years old. Children at this age should be able to consume enough energy during awake hours. Accomplish this by offering plenty of opportunities to eat throughout the day. If you are concerned about night wakings due to hunger, call your pediatrician.
Q: Why is my 5 year old eating less than usual?
Your child’s appetite may vary from day to day, especially if they are in a growth spurt or if they aren't feeling well. Eating less isn’t a cause of concern in the short-term, but if it persists or they are losing weight, contact your healthcare provider.
Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.
Adolphus, K., Lawton, C. L., & Dye, L. (2013). The effects of breakfast on behavior and academic performance in children and adolescents. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737458/