Basic nutrition principles are similar for kids in that they need macro and micro nutrients just like adults. However, different ages need different amounts.
I am a numbers person so I find these types of guides super helpful. The chart below gives you an idea of what kids need in certain age groups. The ranges are based on activity level. The less active child needs the lower number and the more active child needs the higher amounts.
|Age||2,3||4-8 girls||4-8 boys||9-13 girls||9-13 boys||14-18 girls||14-18 boys|
|Protein||2-4 oz||3-5 oz||3-5.5 oz||4-6 oz||5-6.5 oz||5-6.5 oz||5.5-7 oz|
|Fruit||1-1.5 cups||1-1.5 cups||1-2 cups||1.5-2 cups||1.5-2 cups||1.5-2 cups||2-2.5 cups|
|Veggie||1-1.5 cups||1.5-2.5 cups||1.5-2.5 cups||1.5-3 cups||2-3.5 cups||2-3.5 cups||2.5-4 cups|
|Grains||3-5 oz||4-6 oz||4-6 oz||5-7 oz||5-9 oz||6-8 oz||6-10 oz|
|Dairy||2 cups||2.5 cups||2.5 cups||3 cups||3 cups||3 cups||3 cups|
If you’re more of a visual learner, Real Moms Nutrition has some handy guides for kids showing some of these numbers in terms of food choices and serving sizes. Check them out for fruits and vegetables and protein. Her protein numbers are based on the RDA which is the minimum amount needed each day, so keep that in mind.
Of course the above are guidelines and we are not looking for perfection in meeting these on the daily. However, I think it’s a good idea to every now and then, take a look at your child’s normal intake and see where it falls within this guide. Is there an area they are over eating? Is there an area where they are lacking?
Every so often I have my kids count their fruits and vegetables (or other groups) for the day. We try to include them with all meals and at least 1 snack, but sometimes dinner is broken up with evening activities and smart choices are not always made at snack time. So we’ll take a few days of counting to get back on track. Not a bad idea for adults to do the same 🙂
Here are some more Healthy Kid tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Click here to read more.
Give your kids a nutrition check up today!