Concerns over obesity and the increase in childhood diabetes have many parents focusing much more on their child’s diet and daily calorie intake. As children grow, they do need to increase how many calories they eat each day. Sometimes, it can be more than what an adult needs. A child’s calorie needs varies by her activity level and growth rate. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends feeding children a minimum of five times a day to meet their needs. This includes three meals and two snacks; breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner.
Types of Calories
Healthy calories are the important factor when thinking of what to feed your child. Except for the toddler stage, the types of calories are relatively the same throughout childhood. The Mayo Clinic recommends for most children that 25 to 35 percent of their daily calories come from healthy fats, 10 to 30 percent from proteins and 45 to 65 percent from carbohydrates. Toddlers need a higher amount of fats in their diet.
Age 2 to Age 3
At this age, the Mayo Clinic recommends that children consume 1,000 to 1,400 calories per day. This recommendation is given for both boys and girls. This is the age where fat is extremely important to a child’s diet. The Kids Health website states that these fats are a key component in the healthy development of the brain and nervous system. Healthy fats, such as peanut butter, whole grain bread and milk should constitute 30 to 40 percent of a toddler’s calorie intake, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Age 4 to Age 8
As you can guess, as kids age and grow, their caloric needs also grow. At around 4 years of age, you may find that boys have a significant need for more food than girls do. From the age of 4 to 8, girls need about 1,000 to 1,800 calories, while boys need 1,400 to 2,000 calories, says the Mayo Clinic.
Age 9 to Age 13
By the age of 9 to 13, kids are starting to need the same number of calories as adults. For girls, this ranges from 1,600 to 2,200 calories a day and, for boys, the number is 1,800 to 2,600 calories a day, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Closer to hitting their teenage years, kids will become increasing hungry as their body matures and grows.
Age 14 to Age 18
Fast-growing boys in this age group often seem to eat nonstop. And that is for good reason. To keep up with their energy needs, teenage boys need to eat 2,200 to 3,200 calories a day, according to the Mayo Clinic. Girls will also have an increase in their daily calories needs at this age, although not quite as dramatic as boys; teenage girls need to consume 1,800 to 2,400 calories a day.
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