Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet for all of us, including children. Yet the fiber intakes of most American children are lower than what’s recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The recommended daily fiber intake for kids is:
Age Fiber (grams)
1 – 3 19 g
4 – 8 25 g
9 – 13 (boys) 31 g
9 – 13 (girls) 26 g
14 – 18 (boys) 38 g
14 – 18 (girls) 26 g
Why children need fiber
Foods with fiber are more filling and discourage overeating. Fiber also helps move food through the digestive system, preventing constipation. In addition, there is some research to suggest that fiber can help lower bad cholesterol, as well as prevent diabetes and heart disease later in life. Luckily, there are plenty of natural ways to incorporate fiber into your child’s diet on a daily basis.
Soluble vs. insoluble
Fiber is classified into two types: soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and may form a gel, and insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water. Most plant-based foods contain both kinds of fiber. Foods that are high in soluble fiber include dried beans, oats, oat bran, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, peas, and potatoes. Foods that are rich in insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole grains, cereals, seeds, and the skins of many fruits and vegetables.
In general, a high-fiber food has 5 grams or more of fiber per serving, and a good source of fiber is one that provides 2.5 to 4.9 grams per serving. Foods that have 5 grams or more of fiber include:
- Navy Beans
- Baked Beans
- Split Peas
- Wheat Flour
- Oat Bran
- Refried Beans
- Asian Pears
- Green Peas
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Brussels sprouts
- Shredded Wheat Cereal
- Most children are not getting enough fiber on a daily basis.
- Fiber can help to prevent overeating and aids in digestive health. Some research suggests it can prevent diabetes, heart disease, and lower cholesterol.
- There are two types of fiber: Soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (doesn’t dissolve in water). Most plant-based foods contain both types.
- A high-fiber food has 5 grams or more of fiber per serving and a good source of fiber is one that provides 2.5 to 4.9 grams per serving.
I’m sure a serving size is a bit different on each of the above items, but is there a general “serving size” rule for kids in the 1-3 year range?
My son will eat most of these foods, but not consistently. Some days he’ll eat the mess out of some beans and rice, and then the next day or week, he rakes it all onto the floor. Kids’ eating habits are so frustrating…
My 3 year old is a very picky eater these days, but one thing she does enjoy eating is black beans and rice. Needless to say, she eats it a lot now. I feel better about having her eat this rather than a grilled cheese or chicken nuggets all of the time. Also, when I make her spaghetti I use whole wheat noodles and she eats it just fine. I think they contain a bit more fiber.