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How much fiber does my child need?

Most of us know that eating foods high in dietary fiber is good for us, but when it comes to feeding our children, how much fiber do kids really need?

First, let's look at where fiber comes from. Dietary fiber is any part of food from plants including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, not digested by the body.

In determining the amount of fiber your child needs, consider the following formula that can be used for children from 3-18 years of age: Age + 5 = grams of fiber needed per day.

For example, a five-year-old child would need 10 grams of fiber per day (five years plus five equals 10 grams of fiber). For children less than 3 years it's best to consult their primary provider for advice and for adolescents over 18 years, adult guidelines would be used.

Getting kids to eat a fiber rich diet can be a challenge. When considering the list of foods containing beneficial fiber, you may quickly realize that many of these foods may not be your child's favorites. Here are some tips as you incorporate fiber into your child's diet:

  • Add fiber into the diet slowly. Increasing fiber too fast could cause your child to have adverse GI symptoms.
  • Keep the amount of fiber consistent from day to day and spread it out throughout the day.
  • Too much fiber may cause premature fullness resulting in poor calorie intake.
  • Remember to include enough fluid along with the fiber. Fiber without adequate fluid can make constipation worse.

Consider these tips to increase your child's fiber consumption:

  • Increase fruit and vegetable intake by spreading crunchy peanut butter on apples, bananas, pancakes, or bread or using it as a dip.
  • Sprinkle granola on fruited yogurt.
  • Add dried fruits to cereals, muffins, and breads.
  • Add nuts to baked goods.
  • Offer high fiber snacks such as popcorn, trail mix, whole wheat pretzels, or raw veggies.
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