By Richard Tenczar, MD, FAAP
May 17, 2021
Category: Child Health
When you turn to your pediatrician for nutritional advice or help, they will always take a personalized approach to help your child meet their nutritional goals, whether that’s losing weight, getting more regular activity, or eating a healthier diet. You may have questions about your child’s nutritional needs, particularly as they grow. We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions regarding childhood nutrition.
Is fruit juice healthy?
Many people seem to think that juice is healthy, and while it does contain vitamin C, there are certainly better sources for ensuring your child gets enough of this important nutrient. Today, most fruit juices found at the grocery store are chock full of sugar and can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk for cavities. A better alternative is whole fruits since they provide more nutritional value than juice will.
How many calories should my child consume a day?
How many calories your child consumes will depend on their gender, age, and activity level. A recommended calorie range for kids between 6-12 years old is between 1600-2200 per day. Verywell Family provides a more detailed breakdown by age and gender.
I’m worried that might child might not be getting the nutrients they need. What should I do?
First, it’s important to keep in mind that kids don’t need to eat as much as we do, so their portions will be considerably smaller than ours. If your child is growing then chances are good that they are getting the nutrients they need; however, if you find that your child is refusing meals or isn’t eating it’s important to bring this up with your pediatrician as soon as possible.
How can I prevent my child from becoming overweight or obese?
To help your child maintain a healthy weight they must be eating a healthy, balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. Make sure that they are also getting at least one hour of physical activity every day. Limit sugar and processed foods.
Is snacking okay for my child?
Young children may seem voraciously hungry and may beg for snacks. How many are actually okay? It’s normal for little ones to want food every 3-4 hours. While snacking can be a great way to prevent kids from overeating during mealtimes you don’t want to ply them with treats (and you want to be sure you’re providing them with nutrient-rich snacks rather than sugary ones).
A snack mid-day between lunch and dinner is typically the best time. If it’s only going to be a couple of hours before a meal, then something small like a piece of fruit or a slice of cheese with crackers is good. If your child isn’t going to eat for more than four hours then you’ll want a snack that incorporates protein, fat, and carbs to satiate their appetite.
If you are concerned about your child’s health because they are “picky eaters” or are struggling with their weight, you must speak with their pediatrician to find out options that can help them lead a healthier lifestyle.