This article is for children above 2 years of age. For less than 2 years of age, see the article on weaning. You may also want to see articles on adult nutrition and old-age nutrition.
IntroductionChildren at this age can have the same food as that prepared for the rest of the family. They should have three meals a day and nutritious snack twice daily, between the meals.
Basic guidelines for nutrition are as follows:
- Adequate Calories as per age
- 3 yr old child requires One-third of adult’s calorie-requirements
- 6 yr old needs about half the adult calories
- 10 yr old – three-quarters of adult calorie
- Teenagers have the same calorie-requirement as adults
- Adult requirement is around 2400 calories per day
- Right proportions of protein, fat and carbohydrates
- One-tenth of intake should be proteins
- One-third can be fat
- And remaining carbohydrates
- Roughly 50% of a meal should be cereals. 40% should be vegetables & fruits. Remaining should be sweets and fats.
- Vegetable & fruit intake for 6 yr old child should be more than 200gms. This is half of 400gms requirements for adult – as noted for calorie-requirement above. Similarly, 10 yr old would need 300gms of veggies & fruits. Of the “vegetables and fruits” quantity, two-thirds should be vegetables and a third should be fruits.
- Daily consumption of fat/oil should 10ml, 15-20ml and 25-30ml for 3 yrs, 6 yrs and 10 yrs of age, respectively. Refer here for types of fat.
- Daily sugar consumption (including sweets, chocolates etc.) should be 10gms, 15-20gms and 20-25gms for 3 yrs, 6 yrs and 10 yrs of age, respectively.
- Protein requirement is roughly 1gm per-kg of body weight.
- Ideal weight of 2 yr old child is 11-12 kgs.
- 18kg for 5yr old.
- 28kgs for 10 yr old child.
MealsBreakfast is most important meal but school-going kids may not have time for a heavy breakfast. Energy-dense & wholesome foods like dry-fruits (walnuts, almonds, dates, raisins, cashews), eggs, oats, fortified milk are highly recommended.
Lunch-box can have rice-pulav or poori/parathas/chapatis accompanied with curd or vegetables, thick pulses etc. Adequate amount of water must be taken throughout the day.
Dinner should be a balanced meal with rice/pulav, curd/raita, salads/sprouts, pulses, vegetables, chapatis, fruits, desserts, etc. Early dinner is good. Milk before sleeping is also good.
SnacksIt is important to cultivate a healthy snacking-habit in children. Fast-foods and deep-fried snacks should be limited, maximum once in a week. Dry-fruits and fruits along with milk are ideal for snacks. Occasionally, sandwiches with cheese/egg/peanut-butter/jam etc. Also, cornflakes, etc.
Avoid sugary drinks like soft-drinks. Fruit juices are better. Whole fruits are even better!
Avoid highly salty-snacks like chips, kurkure etc.
Pizza, burger etc. should be limited to once in 2 weeks.
Other things to remember
- Brush teeth twice daily.
- Vegetarian diet is better than non-vegetarian.
- Home cooked food is always better than outside or fast food.
- Good dietary habits go a long way towards making healthy and energetic adults.
- Early to bed, early to rise! Ensure 8-12 hours of good sleep every night.
- Encourage regular physical activity.
- Discourage deep-fried foods, cakes, biscuits, chocolates, cookies, pastries, pizza, burgers, fries and other fast-foods.
- Periodic health check-up including eye-examination.
- Track the growth of your child – height and weight – using the mTatva app.
- Keep track of your child’s immunization schedule.
- Ensure good personal-hygiene and good care of skin, hair and nails.
- Ensure correct posture while reading and writing.
Protein & Calorie Content of Common Food Items
|Food Item||Proteins (gms)||Calories (kCal, or “calories”)|
|One cup cooked rice||3.5||200|
|One cup cooked daal (pulses)||6||100|
|250ml Milk w/o sugar||10||200|
|1 Egg (boiled)||6||70|
|1 Slice of Bread||3||80|
|One cup vegetables||Nil||150|
|One spoon oil (5ml)||Nil||45|
|One teaspoon sugar (5gm)||Nil||20|