Nutritional Needs of Young Children (Age 5-10)

Children should be carefully fed so as to maintain and encourage good growth and meet their energy needs. Side by side, physical exercise should be promoted, as well as drinking plenty of plain water. The child should run and play outdoors for at least an hour every day, if possible.

Regular growth assessment is helpful in maintaining adequate dietary intake and physical growth.

Young children are extremely active, but eat little at a time. They should receive a lot of high-energy foods, such as carbohydrates in the form of whole-grain cereals, full-fat dairy or soy milk, vegetable oils, fruits (two servings) and vegetables in boiled, baked, steamed or sautéed form (three servings). A little butter is also helpful in adding energy for their needs.

Children between 5-10 years need about 1,500 to 2,000 kilocalories a day from their food.

Image Credit: GSerban / Shutterstock

Choosing Foods for Children

Foods for children should contain some from each of the five food groups, the amount depending on the age, physical growth and level of activity of the child.

Plenty of water should be given to all children. Milk can be used as a contribution to morning and afternoon tea. Snacks should be appealing and nutritious, such as small amounts of freshly cut brightly colored vegetable sticks with delicious hummus or tomato ketchup (without added sugar or salt).

All food meant for children should be prepared and stored with excellent hygiene and flavor, without too much heat or spice.

Discretionary foods are to be added to the diet only on occasion and in small quantities. These include unnecessary sources of saturated fats, sugars and salt, such as cakes, desserts and processed foods.

How to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

Vegetarian Diets for Children

A family with vegetarian tastes should take care to make sure the diet of children in the family is adequate to support physical and mental growth and development. It must provide sufficient energy, iron and other essential minerals and vitamins, to promote healthy bone and brain growth.

Fats from healthy sources must be present to enable the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, such as vitamins A, E and D. Milk and milk products, or soy milk and soy products, should be a daily part of the diet, as should legumes.

Each meal should include a serving of lentils, nuts or other leguminous protein, such as baked beans, chickpeas, hummus, nut butters and curries. Pulses need to be cooked completely to facilitate good digestion and reduce bowel gas formation.

Further Reading

Written by

Dr. Liji Thomas

Dr. Liji Thomas is an OB-GYN, who graduated from the Government Medical College, University of Calicut, Kerala, in 2001. Liji practiced as a full-time consultant in obstetrics/gynecology in a private hospital for a few years following her graduation. She has counseled hundreds of patients facing issues from pregnancy-related problems and infertility, and has been in charge of over 2,000 deliveries, striving always to achieve a normal delivery rather than operative.

Last updated Oct 10, 2022


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