Healthy foods are important for growing children. Make sure your child eats a well-balanced diet. They need more calories during times when they’re growing fast. The number of calories they need slowly increases as they near puberty.
It’s also important for children to get regular exercise and stay active. This helps them:
- Grow normally
- Build strength and endurance
- Build strong bones and muscles
- Gain key motor skills
- Stay at a healthy weight
- Have good overall health and well-being
Getting the right calories for healthy growth
It’s important to know how many calories your child should eat for the best energy and balance. Children should not be on diets that limit calories unless told to do so by your pediatrician.
This chart shows the average number of calories children ages 2 to 18 should have each day. The numbers are based on their gender and how active they are.
Suggested daily calories for children 2-18
|2–3||Male or female||1,000||1,000||1,000|
Suggested food amounts from each food group
|Food group||1,000 calories||1,200 calories||1,400 calories||1,600 calories||1,800 calories||2,000 calories|
|Fruits||1 cup||1 cup||1 ½ cups||1 ½ cups||1 ½ cups||2 cups|
|Vegetables||1 cup||1 ½ cups||1 ½ cups||2 cups||2 ½ cups||2 ½ cups|
|Grains||3 ounces||4 ounces||5 ounces||5 ounces||6 ounces||6 ounces|
|Protein||2 ounces||3 ounces||4 ounces||5 ounces||6 ounces||6 ounces|
|Dairy||2 cups||2 ½ cups||2 ½ cups||3 cups||3 cups||3 cups|
|Food group||2,200 calories||2,400 calories||2,600 calories||2,800 calories||3,000 calories||3,200 calories|
|Fruits||2 cups||2 cups||2 cups||2 ½ cups||2 ½ cups||2 ½ cups|
|Vegetables||3 cups||3 cups||3 ½ cups||3 ½ cups||4 cups||4 cups|
|Grains||7 ounces||8 ounces||9 ounces||10 ounces||10 ounces||10 ounces|
|Protein||6 ounces||6 ½ ounces||6 ½ ounces||7 ounces||7 ounces||7 ounces|
|Dairy||3 cups||3 cups||3 cups||3 cups||3 cups||3 cups|
Most children go through times when they don’t like eating a lot of different foods. The good news is that this usually doesn’t hurt their overall health. Plus, they usually grow out of this stage.
It’s normal for children’s eating habits to change. They may not need or want as much food during stages of slow growth. Their tastes also change.
The best advice is to give your child all types of foods and several choices. You don’t need to worry as long as your child is gaining the right amount of weight for their age.
The right amount of weight is about four to seven pounds per year when eating a variety of healthy foods. If you are worried, talk to your pediatrician.
This depends on how active your child is. If they are not very active, start slowly and build up. Things you can do together include riding bikes, walking around the neighborhood, jumping rope, dancing and playing tag.OR
Parents are key when it comes to getting children to be more active. Help your child find something they enjoy doing. If your child likes it, he or she will probably want to do it more often.
Studies show that habits learned early lead to a healthier adult life. It’s never too late to form healthy habits. Talk to your pediatrician about how to get started.OR