Children’s calorie needs are dependent on their age, height, level of activity and gender too after the 11 years. There is another factor which needs to be considered to understand the optimum level of calorie intake necessary for the child. It is called nutrient density. It means the ratio of micronutrients to the amount of calories in a food. Foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals give enough nourishment to the body with lesser intake. Parents should be able to inculcate the habit of eating such foods in their children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended 40 calories of food intake for kids aged between 1 to 3 years. This means for a 30 inches tall child, the recommended calorie intake is 1200. A missing part of this equation is the activity level of the kid. Kids that are more active will surely need more calories than less active ones. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) gives a generalized guideline of 1200 to 2000 calories for kids aged between 5 and 12.
An average calorie count based on age
0 to 5 months - 650 calories
5 to 12 months- 850 calories
1 to 3 years- 1300 calories
4 to 6 years - 1800 calories
7 to 10 years - 2000 calories
11 to 14 years - 2500 calories
15 to 18 years- 3000 calories
11 to 18 years - 2200 calories
The USDA has a booklet with a Food Guide pyramid that recommends serving sizes of many foods, and instructions on the no. of servings with the appropriate serving sizes that are necessary for a healthy diet.
Children often try to bluff the parents into accepting what they want to eat which is most of the time unhealthy. One of the tricks that a kid uses is to say that he is not hungry as soon as lunch or dinner is served but within an hour, be ready for unhealthy, calorie-laden snacks. You should be able to call their bluff and mould their habits as per the recommended children’s calorie needs with many nutrient-rich healthy foods. The healthy foods should not be confined to the kids only as you can help them best in developing a liking for these foods by setting an example.