How Much Food Does Your Child Need in a Day?
Your child is a ball of energy! Do you ever wonder if your child is eating enough, or too much? The Food Guide Pyramid can help you. Use it to plan sensible amounts for meals and snacks, for your child – and for you!
How much does your child need?
Most children, ages 4 to 6, need about 1600 calories a day. Women who sit a lot need about that much, too. Most men need about 2200 calories daily. Tip for you: The more you move, the more you can eat!
The following servings add up to about 1600 calories.
|Meat & Beans Group||2 to add up to 5 ounces|
*Choose fat-free or reduced-fat dairy foods most often.
This guide can help you plan the total amount your child may need for a day.
Don’t use it to force more food or stop your hungry child from eating. Appetites change from day to day. And each child’s needs are different! Your child may not eat a whole serving at one time. That’s okay. Half may be enough for a small stomach.
- Serve small amounts.
- Start with 1 tablespoon of each food for each year of his or her age.
- Plan for second helpings.
- Let your child’s appetite guide you.
Tip of the Pyramid
The amount depends on the calories needed. Choose foods less often that are high in sugar and fats.
Milk Group Serving Sizes
1 cup milk or yogurt = 8 ounce glass
11/2 ounces natural cheese like cheddar
2 ounces process cheese
1/2 cup ice cream or frozen yogurt
Vegetable Group Serving Sizes
1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables
1/2 cup of other vegetables
1 medium potato
3/4 cup vegetable juice
10 french fries
Meat and Beans Group Serving Sizes
2-3 ounces lean meat, fish, poultry is a serving
Count as 1 ounce of meat:
1/3 cup nuts
1/2 cup cooked dry beans or tofu
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
Fruit Group Serving Sizes
3/4 cup juice
1 medium fruit – apple, banana, orange
1/2 cup chopped or canned fruit
1/2 medium grapefruit
Grain Group Serving Sizes
About 1 cup dry cereal (or 1 ounce)
1/2 cup pasta, rice tortilla, 7-inch size
1 slice of bread
1 pancake, waffle 4” size
2 medium cookies
10 tortilla chips
3 cups popcorn
Nibbles for Health Nutrition Newsletter for Parents of Young Children, USDA, Food and Nutrition Service
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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