Grade School Mealtime Guide
The servings below show an overall average, but can vary based on your child's specific age, gender and activity level. Be sure to adjust based on your child's hunger cues.
Serve a variety of color and texture. While most of a child's daily nutritional intake, snacks can support and enhance your child's healthy eating plan.
Children can get ¼ of their calories from snack foods. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to and plan the types of snacks your child eats. While packaged foods offer convenience, a little bit of planning goes a long way in offering your child nutritious and healthy options for snack time.
How can I encourage healthy snacks?
* Place emphasis on enjoying the tastes of fruits and vegetables rather than just focusing on their healthfulness. While they may not reach for fruit or vegetables as a first choice, you’d be surprised how fast a plate or bowl of fruits and vegetables can disappear when offered!
*Make healthy snack options available. Items like pre-cut fruit and vegetables with dips, yogurt, whole grain crackers or pita, hummus and unsalted nuts or butters can be snack staples that are delicious and nutritious.
Media Influencing Eating Habits
Studies show that TV viewing was associated with eating less fruits and vegetables and more sweets, soft drinks and fast food. Excessive TV watching is associated with obesity in children.
When children eat in front of a TV or other device, it is easy to be distracted and eat past when they are full. Advertising also features many unhealthy foods such as sugary cereals, fast foods, and sweets. In fact, young children prefer and choose food that have been associated with popular food brands or characters seen on advertisements.
What you can do:
Make your meals media-free. Putting aside devices, in a different room if possible, and serving meals at a table can help your child focus on the food and on interactions with other people at the table.
Mealtimes are an opportunity for family members to talk about their days and connect. It is also a great opportunity to model healthy eating and teaching your child about healthy, balanced meals. Eating three meals together as a family is associated with positive health outcomes in children!
Routine supplementation is not neccessary for for healthy growing children who consume a varied diet. Talk to your pediatrician about your child's dietary intake. Some specific diets like a vegetarian one may require additional supplementation if nutritional deficiencies are identified by your doctor.
What if I just want to give a daily multivitamin?
A standard pediatric vitamin-mineral product containing nutrients in amounts no larger than the DRI (daily recommended intake) poses little risk. Remember that most vitamins for kids are attractive in taste, shape and color so please ensure you keep them out of reach to avoid accidental ingestion and vitamin toxicity.
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Sources: Pediatric Nutrition. 8th Ed. 2019. American Academy of Pediatrics. Frank R. Greer, MD, FAAP; Ronald E. Kleinman, MD, FAAP. *This website has been developed by Ahimsa LLC. This site offers health and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. While many of our experts are practicing clinicians, viewing this site, receipt of information contained on this site or the transmission of information from or to this site does not constitute a physician-patient relationship. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Always seek the advice of your child’s own physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Please click here for more information on our disclaimer.