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:

  • Barley
  • Navy Beans
  • Baked Beans
  • Split Peas
  • Lentils
  • Wheat Flour
  • Oat Bran
  • Dates
  • Refried Beans
  • Raspberries
  • Asian Pears
  • Green Peas
  • Couscous
  • Prunes
  • Spinach
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs
  • Artichokes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Shredded Wheat Cereal
  • Broccoli
  • Pears
  • Raisins

Takeaways

  • 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.

References

  1. Tufts University School of Medicine. Dietary fiber for children: how much?
  2. National Fiber Council. Hungry Kids: Fill them Up with High-Fiber Foods.
  3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Nutrient Lists.

Comments

  1. 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…

    Reply

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