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Home :: Children Diet

Child Diet : Healthy Diet For Children

A child needs a balanced and adequate diet to supply the nutrients and energy needed for growth. Although children's food consumption is highly variable from meal to meal, their daily energy consumption is relatively constant because they adjust it at meals. Colorful and crunchy fruit and vegetables can be an enjoyable part of your child's life. Most babies eat fruit and vegetables as one of their first solid foods.

The benefits of fruit and vegetables for children

There are many reasons for everyone to enjoy eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruit. Vegetables and fruit provide important vitamins such as vitamin C and folic acid. They also have other plant substances that are thought important to help prevent some diseases.


A child requires more calories per kilogram body weight than an adult because: (i) basal metabolism is highest during infancy, and then steadily declines throughout life except for a small rise during adolescence; (ii) the physical activity of the child far exceeds that of an adult; and (iii) extra calories are needed for growth. Bodyweight is the best guide for the nutrition of a child.


A child requires relatively more protein than an adult, because it is needed not only for tissue repair but also for growth. About 14% of the calories should be supplied as protein.

The main sources of protein are milk and milk products, meat, fish, fowl, eggs, nuts, cereals and pulses. Children recovering from malnutrition, when fed on a high-protein diet, show accelerated growth.

Carbohydrates and Fats

Carbohydrates and fats are supplied mainly for their calorie value. Care should be taken that sweets are not sucked constantly, as they ferment in the mouth and damage the teeth. Liberal helpings of raw and cooked vegetables and fruits should be allowed at each meal.

Vitamins and Minerals

If the diet is well balanced, supplements of vitamins and minerals are not necessary.


Fluid intake should be sufficient to ensure a free flow of urine. Children who run about and sweat profusely need extra fluids.

Food Habits

It is preferable to give feeds at the intervals suggested below:-

  • 8.00 a.m. Breakfast
  • 10.30 a.m. Fruit juice, biscuits or puris; milk 1 cup
  • 12.30 p.m. Lunch
  • 4.00 p.m. Biscuits, cakes or puris; milk 1 cup
  • 7.00 p.m. Dinner

The meal hours should be regular and nibbling between meals should be discouraged. At mealtime, there should be no comments about likes and dislikes regarding food. If a child does not eat, the parent should not feed forcibly or scold, as this only makes the child obstinate. If after mild persuasion the child refuses to eat, no further attempt should be made to feed at that meal. If the parent's sole complaint is that a child is indifferent towards food, despite being healthy, physically fit, and happily playing about, it is the parent who requires instruction. A child should never be made conscious that he or she obliges the parents by eating. No 'tonics', digestives, or injections have ever produced appetite in a child who refused to eat.

Frequently, the child refuses to eat because of lack of ingenuity on the part of the mother in serving food. Milk and eggs in particular are refused because they are served in a monotonous way, day after day. Milk can easily be made appetizing by the addition of various kinds of flavoring agents and syrups, which increase calories and impart attractive colors. Milk and eggs can be served as custard, pudding or ice cream. Confectionery can also be made into various appealing shapes and shades. An occasional lunch or dinner served in the backyard or garden with friends may create a ravenous appetite. Thus, a little imagination in the preparation and serving of a meal can be richly rewarding.

Diet for school children

School children usually have a good appetite, but their food should be judiciously selected. Their liking for sweets makes the diet adequate in calories but deficient in proteins. Milk and milk products, roasted groundnuts, and Bengal gram are good sources of inexpensive protein relished by children.

Children who are reluctant to go to bed early have difficulty in waking up in the morning, and may rush their breakfast before going to school. School lunch may also be hurried so as to get more time for play during the lunch interval. In the evening, when they return from school, children are usually thirsty and may gulp down a lot of liquid, which dulls their appetite. If good nutrition is to be assured, these bad habits should be corrected.

Things to remember for child diet
  • Remember to offer children a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Focus on serving lots of different vegetables and fruit, not the amounts.
  • Children's serving sizes may be small and will depend on age, appetite and activity levels.

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