What Nutrients do Children Need?

The nutritional needs of a child are more than that of an adult. Childhood is an important phase of physical growth, cognitive development and maturation of immunity. 60% of an adult’s standing height is achieved by 5 years. 90% of the human brain is developed before age 6. A child’s immune system continues to grow until age of 5. An unbalanced diet results in a nutrition gap leading to low resistance to day to day infections due to a weakened immune system. Also the child fails to reach its full potential of growth and development with the added risk of obesity.


Also Read:Nutrition for your Baby

Tips and Tricks for your little ones’ mealtimes

    • Provide 3 balanced meals with healthy snacks in between.
    • Avoid snacking before meals.
    • Have a structured meal plan. The table below provides a brief overview of how you can go about it.
Food group 1 to 3 years 4 to 6 years
Cereals and grains 2 cups per day 4 to 6 cups per day
Vegetables 2 cups per day 3 cups per day
Fruits 1 fruit/ a tall glass of fruit milkshake or smoothie/ a fruit bowl
Protein 1 cup pulses per day plus 1 portion(50 g) egg/fish/meat
Dairy 500 ml milk and dairy all inclusive
    • Introduce new food at the beginning of a mealtime.
    • Make food interesting – play around with taste/texture/colour/shapes.
    • Allow your child to help out during cooking.

Also Read:Spotting Iron Deficiency Anaemia in Children and Ways to Overcome it

  • Be creative. Sly and creative. Sneak healthy ingredients into foods your child already likes.
  • Make feeding times fun. Speak animatedly. Share fun stories.
  • Do not force feed.
  • Encourage your child to eat by himself/herself. It is ok if they make a mess.
  • Stock up on healthy nutrient dense food instead of fatty/sugary foods.
  • Be a positive role model.
  • Be the change you want to see!


Food chart for 1 to 2 years children

Dr. Lakshmi Prashanth-Dec-11-2015-02-58-33-Dr-Lakshmi-Prashanth

Article by Dr Lakshmi Prashanth, MD (AIIMS)
Consultant Pediatrician
Kauvery Hospital