Fiber Recommendations for Children

Child Nutrition Basics

Whole grain bread can help make your child's lunch even healthier.
Whole grain bread can help make your child's lunch even healthier. Photo by Getty Images

Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet, and most experts recommend that both children and adults eat a high fiber diet.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in their Guide to Your Child's Nutrition, 'people who eat a lot of fiber are less likely to be obese, have heart disease, or develop problems affecting the bowel, including constipation and cancer.'

Eating foods high in fiber is especially important to prevent and treat constipation in your children.

Fiber Recommendations for Children

How much fiber do kids need?

The usual recommendation is that the amount of fiber that a child needs to eat each day should be equal to their age in years plus 5. So a 5-year-old needs 10g of fiber each day and a 12-year-old needs about 17g.

Many nutrition experts think that isn't enough fiber, though.

The latest recommendations are that kids should eat about 14g of fiber for every 1,000 calories they eat. So obviously older kids who eat more calories should also get more fiber in their diet.

Some general fiber recommendations for children include that:

  • 1 to 3-year-olds should get about 19g of fiber each day
  • 4 to 8-year-olds should get about 25g of fiber each day
  • 9- to 13-year-old girls should get about 26g of fiber each day
  • 9- to 13-year-old boys should get about 31g of fiber each day
  • 14- to 18-year-old girls should get about 26g of fiber each day
  • 14- to 18-year-old boys should get about 38g of fiber each day

    How much fiber do your kids get in their diet each day?

    Foods High in Fiber

    In general, good sources of fiber include many fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), and whole-grain breads and cereals.

    To find foods high in fiber for your family, read the nutrition label of foods to see how much fiber is in it.

    In general, a food that is high in fiber would have at least 5g of fiber per serving or more. Those that are good sources of fiber have at least 2.5g of fiber per server.

    Foods Low in Fiber

    Another good rule of thumb is that foods high in fat are usually low in fiber.

    Low fiber foods (less than 2g of fiber per serving) include:

    • ground meat
    • smooth peanut butter
    • eggs
    • milk
    • yogurt
    • cheese
    • ice cream
    • white bread
    • white rice and pasta
    • canned fruits without pulp and many fresh fruits without the skin
    • many well-cooked vegetables without seeds, such as spinach, skinned potatoes, green beans, and carrots, etc.
    • well-ripened bananas
    • Jell-O

    While a low fiber diet might help kids with excessive bloating, gas, and diarrhea, it not something that most experts recommend for kids.

    Talk to your pediatrician to make sure your kids are getting enough fiber in their diet.

    Sources:

    American Heart Association. AHA Recommendation. Fiber and Children's Diets.

    Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. 2005.

    USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18. Fiber, Total Dietary (g) Content of Selected Foods per Common Measure, sorted by nutrient content.

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