How Many Calories a Day for Children?
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How Many Calories a Day for Children?

Calorie counting may sound like another for your to-do list, but maintaining a basic idea of how many your children require will keep them healthy. Feed them enough food to fit within the required caloric window. Whether you have a picky eater or a super muncher, you can rest knowing exactly what they need each day.


Calories translate into energy in the body. The number of calories a child ingests each day should measure up to the amount of growing and activity he is doing. Too few calories will inhibit your child’s development and growth. Too many calories per day will cause excessive weight gain, which can lead to disease such as diabetes. Any old calories won’t do. Those calories should be chock full of nutrients, such as protein, vitamins and minerals, necessary for growth.


A University of Cincinnati NetWellness site titled “Dietary and Exercise Recommendations for Children and Adolescents for Healthy Living” outlines the number of calories children need per day. It explains that up until age four, boys and girls require the same number of calories per day. After age four, boys need approximately 200 more calories per day than girls do.


Infants up to age two require 900 calories per day. During their toddler years, in ages two to three, children need an additional 100 calories per day, a total of 1,000. As children start heading off to school and growing into little people, from ages four to eight, they need 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day. Finally, those preteen years require 1,600 to 1,800 calories per day. After that, children start developing young adult bodies, requiring about the same calories as adults, depending on their activity level.


Because every child grows at a different pace and has a slightly different activity schedule, you should consult with your doctor about exactly how many calories your child requires. Children go through growth spurts at different times. Growth spurts require children to eat more calories to keep up with the development. Talk with the doctor about your meals and your child’s preferences to determine whether or not she is eating enough.


In March 2010, the University of North Carolina School of Global Public Health published an article titled “U.S. Children Snacking More,” which explains that children are eating 168 more calories than they did in 1977. These calories are from junk food snacks, which add no nutrition. When counting your child’s calories, make sure they are not comprised of empty caloric snacks.

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