Your Child's Nutrition

4-18 Years of Age

Hilliard Pediatrics, Inc. - Dr. Tim Teller, MD


This guide aims to help you make smart choices about your growing child and teenager’s nutrition.

The Food Groups

What used to be called the “Four Food Groups” (Meats, Breads and grains, Milk and dairy, and Fruits and vegetables) is now divided up a little differently. The food groups are now referred to as Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Milk, and Meat and beans. This helps emphasize the importance of the Grains and Vegetables in our diets. A healthy diet includes foods from all of the food groups each day.

Average Calories per Day

This is a good approximation of the average number of calories a healthy child needs every day. There are differences between children, based on whether they are a boy or girl, are physically active, and other factors. What is most important is a child growing well over time. We will follow their height and weight at their routine check-ups.

The following is the average number of calories needed per day. The website has excellent information about calories needed per day for your age and weight.

Gender4-8 Years9-13 Years14-18 Years

A 1000 calorie diet would include a daily intake of 3 ounces of grains, 1 cup of vegetables, 1 cup of fruit, 2 cups of milk, and 2 ounces of meat or beans. A 2000 calorie diet would include a daily intake of 6 ounces of grains, 2 ½ cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of milk, and 5 ½ ounces of meat or beans. The website has helpful specific information about what would be an example of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for children of different weights and calorie need.

Some Important Minerals in our Diet

  • Helps strengthen bone.
  • From milk, cheese, yogurt, green leafy vegetables, beans, and canned salmon. Calcium is also added to some fruit juices (orange and apple juice). Amounts of calcium in foods (approximate):
    • Milk - 8 oz = 300-400mg
    • Cheese - 1 oz = 200mg
    • Yogurt-  1 cup = 400mg
    • Broccoli - 1 cup = 200mg
  • Recommended requirement by age:
    • Children (up to 8 yrs.) - 400-600mg
    • Preteens and Teens (9-18 yrs.) - 800-1200mg
  • Prevents anemia.
  • From red meat, whole grains, eggs, legumes.
  • Amounts of iron in foods (approximate):
    • Hamburger - ¼ pound = 4mg
    • Raisins - ¼ cup = 1.5mg
    • Watermelon - 6 x 1.5” slice = 3mg
    • Macaroni - 1 cup = 1.5mg
    • Hard-boiled egg - one egg = 1.1mg
    • Sunflower seeds - ¼ cup = 4mg  
    • Cheerios® - 1 ¼ cup = 8mg
    • Life® cereal - 2/3 cup = 8mg
    • Raisin bran - ¾ cup = 18mg
    • Chicken - ¼ pound = 1.5mg
    • Tuna - ¾ cup = 1.8mg
    • Cooked peas - ½ cup = 1.4mg
  • Recommended requirement by age:
    • Infants - ½ mg per pound
    • Children (1-3 yrs) - 7mg
    • Children (4-8 yrs) - 11 mg
    • Preteens and Teens (9-18 yrs) - 8mg
    • Teen Girls Who Have Started Their Period - 15mg
  • Teenagers needing an iron supplement because of anemia will be recommended to take an over-the-counter iron supplement: Ferrous sulfate 325mg, 1 by mouth twice a day. We will tell you more about the medication in the office when we discover the iron-deficient anemia.
Vitamin A
  • For bone development, growth and eye health.
  • From carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, and butter.
  • Recommended requirement by age:
    • Infants - 375mcg
    • Children (1-3 yrs) - 400mcg
    • Children (4-6 yrs) - 500mcg
    • Children (7-10 yrs) - 700mcg
    • Teen Girls - 800mcg
    • Teen Boys - 10000mcg
Vitamin C
  • For preventing scurvy and may help immune system (controversial).
  • From kiwi, broccoli, oranges, strawberries, lemon, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits.
  • Recommended requirement by age:
    • Infants - 40-50mg
    • Children (1-3 yrs) - 15mg
    • Children (4-8 yrs) - 25mg
    • Children (9-13 yrs) - 45mg
    • Teens (14 and above) - 65-75mg
Vitamin D
  • For preventing rickets and other bone problems.
  • From fatty fish (salmon, tuna, catfish), whole eggs, mushrooms, and in milk products (where it is added).
  • Recommended requirement BIRTH to 18 YEARS is 5 micrograms (mcg).
Vitamin E
  • For preventing poor nerve conduction and works as an antioxidant.
  • From kiwi, avocado, eggs, milk, almonds, hazelnuts, and spinach.
  • Recommended requirement by age:
    • Infants (0-6 months) - 4mg
    • Infants (7-12 months) - 6mg
    • Children (1-3 yrs) - 5mg
    • Children (4-8 yrs) - 6mg
    • Children (9-13 yrs) - 9mg
    • Teens (14 and above) - 12mg
  • Many children and adults do not get enough fiber in their diet. Fiber keeps our bowels moving and helps us feel full after eating.
  • Fiber sources include vegetables, fruits, beans, peas, nuts, and whole-grain breads and cereals.
  • If you children are following the “Eat 5” guideline about eating 5 servings of vegetables and fruits each day, they are very likely getting enough fiber.
  • As a guideline, add 5 to your child’s age to know how many grams per day of fiber is recommended
    • For example, a 6 year old needs 6 (years of age) + 5 (add 5) = 11 grams per day of fiber.

Who Needs a Daily Vitamin?

Many children with a well-rounded diet will not need a daily vitamin. However, if your child does not regularly eat a well-rounded diet, we recommend they take a daily children’s daily vitamin. These are available as liquids, chewables, and “gummi” chewables. Review the label instructions to be sure your child is getting the proper dose. Remember that your child will not “eat better” or “grow better” if they take a daily vitamin.

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Last Updated: 07/2019