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Children need a well-balanced and healthy diet for their optimal growth and development. As a mother, you are aware of the fact that your child requires nutritious food, but how much food should your child be consuming on a daily basis or, in other words, what is an ideal calorie intake for your kid is the real question. Go through the following article for estimated calorie requirements of children and more on this topic.
Are Calories Bad for Your Child’s Body?
What exactly are calories? In simple words, a calorie is a unit of measurement of energy that you may get by consuming a particular food; however, it is not used as a parameter to estimate the weight or length of any food product. For example, if an apple has approximately 80 calories, this means this is the amount of energy your kid may get after eating that apple. Most edible things contain calories and the human body needs calories as they provide energy to the body for its proper functioning.
Thus, it may be clear that calories are not harmful, rather important for your child. However, it is essential that your kid gets his share of calories by eating healthy and nutritious food items and not by eating junk food.
Why Does Your Child’s Body Need Calories?
As discussed in the above section, calories provide energy to the body, thus, they are required for your child’s proper development. Apart from providing energy to perform daily chores, calories are also necessary for various organs to function properly. Just the way consuming calories is essential, it is important to burn them too. Though the body burns some calories even when you are sitting, watching TV, standing or sleeping, it is not sufficient. It is important that your kid is active in a day for almost an hour or more than that. When your kid is active, he is not only burning the calories but is also strengthening his body and maintaining a healthy weight.
Recommended Calorie Intake for Children
Now, the next question in your mind may be how many calories should a child eat per day? Well, it may depend on various factors such as age, weight, gender, activity level, body composition and the medical condition of the child. Thus, after assessing all these parameters, you can establish your child’s daily intake of calories. Following are the average calorie intake requirements of children of different age groups:
1. For a Baby
As a parent, it will be easy for you to understand if your baby is not getting enough calories because your baby may appear cranky, fussy, may not sleep properly and exude other such signals. However, to establish an average calorie intake for babies, all you have to do is simple mathematics. A baby requires approximately 120 calories per kilograms of weight and, thus, if your newborn baby is 3 kilograms then his average calorie intake may be 360 calories.
2. For a Toddler
Toddlers or kids between 1 to 2 years of age are super active and are often busy exploring around the house. On average, a toddler requires approximately 45 calories per pound of his body weight. This means that he may roughly need 1000 to 1400 calories per day. You should divide these calories into 4-5 meals in a day because toddlers have smaller tummies and are very restless, so they might spend less time eating.
3. For a Preschooler
Your average three-year kiddo requires the same amount of calories as a toddler, that is 45 calories per pound of his body weight. However, as he descends into his fourth year, this calorie intake may increase up to 2000 calories in a day. You may find feeding your preschooler a great task as, by this time, kids tend to get fussy and may take a long time to be through with their meals.
4. For School-Aged Children
Children around this age may start relishing their meals and may be consuming roughly 1600 to 2500 calories in a day. Your average 5 to a 7-year-old kid may require 41 calories and your 7 to an 11-year-old kid may require 32 calories per pound of his body weight. However, it is very easy for school going kids to become addicted to junk food, which may lead to obesity issues.
Is Dieting Ok for Children?
Unhealthy eating habits may sometimes lead to weight gain and obesity in a child but that does that mean that a child should diet to let go of that extra body weight? The answer is a big NO! Children should not diet until or unless they have been advised by the doctor to do so due to some medical condition. There is no denying that obesity leads to various other medical issues but dieting is not recommended for children. Eating right and removing unhealthy, refined and sugary food from your kid’s diet is the best way to help him lose weight.
Healthy Balanced Diet for Kids
It is essential for children of every age group to consume a healthy diet that should include the following:
- Milk and dairy
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Poultry, meat or fish
- Carbohydrate-rich foods such as whole wheat bread, pasta, rice etc.
- Healthy fats in the form of butter, cheese and oil.
It is a must for your child to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet that will help him grow and develop. In case you have any concerns about your child’s diet or how much your child should eat in a day, you should seek your doctor’s help for the same.