Nutrition for kids: Guidelines for a healthy diet
Nutrition for kids is based on the same principles as nutrition for adults. Everyone needs the same types of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Children, however, need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages.
Consider these nutrient-dense foods:
Protein. Choose seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
Fruits. Encourage the child to eat a variety of fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruits rather than fruit juice. If child drinks juice, make sure it’s 100 percent juice without added sugars and limit his or her servings. Look for canned fruit that says it’s light or packed in its own juice, meaning it’s low in added sugar. Keep in mind that one-quarter cup of dried fruit counts as one cup-equivalent of fruit. When consumed in excess, dried fruits can contribute extra calories.
Vegetables. Serve a variety of fresh, canned, frozen or dried vegetables. Aim to provide a variety of vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy and others, each week. When selecting canned or frozen vegetables, look for options lower in sodium.
Grains. Choose whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, brown or wild rice. Limit refined grains such as white bread, pasta, and rice.
Dairy. Encourage your child to eat and drink fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soy beverages.
0-12 months: Infants up to the age to six months are exclusively breastfed. As baby grows, gradually introduce baby to a wide range of new tastes and textures so that, by the age of one year, the baby is enjoying a varied and healthy diet.
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Average Energy Requirements (calories/kcals) of children aged 1 to 5:
Age Male (kcal) Female (kcal)
1 765 717
2 1004 932
3 1171 1076
4 1386 1291
5 1482 1362
Toddlers (1-3): The period Between 1 and 3 years old, toddlers develop in fascinating, exciting and surprising ways. Physically, socially, emotionally and verbally, they are becoming more independent and able to express their budding personality. A healthy, balanced diet is necessary to provide a toddler with the right balance of nutrients they need for optimal development. Two vital vitamins for this stage are iron and vitamin D.
Pre-School Children (3-5): Children growth and development is rapid. A child can play with a group of friends, using their imagination to play games. They’re capable of making decisions. Their daily energy and nutrient requirements are high.
Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI):
AGE IRON RNI (mg) CALCIUM RNI (mg) VITAMINS RNI (ug) SALT(g) SODIUM(g)
1-3 6.9 350 400 2 0.8
3-5 6.1 450 400 3 1.2