Ask the Expert – Fiber Requirements for Toddlers

by Naveen Agarwal

in Ask The Expert

Ask The Expert is a weekly column on Littlestomaks.com. The idea is to have a reader-submitted question answered by a nutrition expert or a pediatrician. Feel free to submit your question in the comments section below.

Worried your toddler is not getting enough fiber? How much should he consume on average each day? Check out these handy tips from Registered Dietitian Keri Gans!

Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN

  • MS, Clinical Nutrition, New York University
  • Bachelors of Business Administration, Marketing, Ohio University
  • Private Practice in New York City for over ten years specializing in weight management and disordered eating
  • Registered Dietitian, Speaker, Media Spokesperson, Writer
  • Website: Keri Gans Nutrition
  • Twitter: @kerigans
  • LinkedIn profile – Keri Gans
  • Contact: Email kmgans@aol.com

Question:How much fiber should a 4 year old be getting in his diet? How can I get him to eat fiber rich foods?

Answer:

I really love that you are asking this question. Too many children (and adults) today fall very short on meeting their fiber needs. AND fiber is important for 2 main reasons:

  1. Promotes regularity and prevents constipation.
  2. May help reduce risk of heart disease and certain cancers later in life.

So how much is needed for our children?
1-3 years: 19 grams
4-8 years: 25 grams
boys 9-13 years: 31 grams
girls 9-13 years: 26 grams

First thing you need to do to get your child to eat fiber rich foods is be a role model. If you aren’t eating them and they are not in your house how can you expect your child to? So pack your kitchen with whole grains, fruits and veggies and encourage your child to eat them the following ways:

  1. serve fruit with the skin on them, like apples and pears
  2. have fruit cut-up in the refrigerator for easy grabbing, such as pineapple and melon
  3. top breakfast cereals with berries instead of sugar
  4. serve a breakfast cereal with minimum 3g fiber per serving (if they don’t love start by mixing a lower fiber cereal with it and then gradually increasing)
  5. make waffles or pancakes with whole wheat flour
  6. use whole wheat bread for sandwiches
  7. slice a banana on a peanut butter sandwich
  8. whip up afternoon smoothies for a snack that include low fat milk, low fat yogurt and fruit
  9. keep raw veggies on hand for munching with lowfat dips
  10. make whole wheat pasta and wild rice for the whole family

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Disclaimer – Information provided in Ask The Expert column on Littlestomaks.com is intended to give you general guidance on a question related to toddler nutrition. It is not meant to be treated as medical advice. You are welcome to contact this expert for a detailed consultation on your specific situation to determine what actions, if any, you should take regarding nutrition and health of your toddlers. We do not recommend you to take any action based solely on the information presented in this column. Experts have agreed to provide their professional opinion on toddler nutrition related questions on a voluntary basis and no compensation is offered to them by Littlestomaks.com.

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  • http://www.atasteoftheblogosphere.blogspot.com Drea

    My 2 year old is not a big fan of fruit or veggies, but I give her a fruit smoothie every morning after she eats her eggs. We use whole wheat (pasta, bread, goodies) whenever possible, and I try to sneak veggies into sauces for our dinners. Yet, she still has really hard poop sometimes that is so hard it hurts her coming out (she tells me it gives her an “owie on her bottom”). Any suggestions?

  • http://www.atasteoftheblogosphere.blogspot.com Drea

    My 2 year old is not a big fan of fruit or veggies, but I give her a fruit smoothie every morning after she eats her eggs. We use whole wheat (pasta, bread, goodies) whenever possible, and I try to sneak veggies into sauces for our dinners. Yet, she still has really hard poop sometimes that is so hard it hurts her coming out (she tells me it gives her an “owie on her bottom”). Any suggestions?

  • http://www.growingraw.com GrowingRaw

    I’m pretty consistent about the 10 points you mention, but that is an excellent summary.

    When it comes to smoothies I make them green about half the time. That way my kids get their vegetable greens raw and love it.

    It’s interesting that whenever my kids are with their great grandmother she skins their fruit for them. My Mum and I have always left the skin on so that’s what they’ve gotten used to without knowing any different. My great grandmother had a completely different habit with her kids. I think my Mum did a good job breaking the pattern

  • http://www.growingraw.com GrowingRaw

    I’m pretty consistent about the 10 points you mention, but that is an excellent summary.

    When it comes to smoothies I make them green about half the time. That way my kids get their vegetable greens raw and love it.

    It’s interesting that whenever my kids are with their great grandmother she skins their fruit for them. My Mum and I have always left the skin on so that’s what they’ve gotten used to without knowing any different. My great grandmother had a completely different habit with her kids. I think my Mum did a good job breaking the pattern

  • Trish

    I’ve read elsewhere that the rule is “age+5″ – so my 4-year-old would need 9 grams per day. Which one is true?

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