Picky Eater Kid Nutritional Guidelines
By Jason Katzenback
Although many children are picky eaters at some stage in their lives, the experts say not to worry. Unless you are feeding him or her chips and cookies three times each day, these children will most likely meet their weekly nutritional quotas.
However, if you are concerned about their developmental progress, make an appointment with their pediatrician for confirmation. In the meantime, you may want to include a multivitamin in your child's daily diet to balance his intake of nutrients.
Instead of looking at what types of food your child is eating meal-by- meal or even day-by-day, round out the picture by looking at your child's diet week-by-week.
Most children do not eat a balanced diet every day, but over the course of a week or so, their diet will usually fall within healthy eating guidelines. This perspective can help provide you with the total nutrient intake and you will probably feel much better after discovering that they really are eating more nutritional foods overall.
Here are some nutritional guidelines that can help you when looking at your child's dietary needs:
- Children need between 24-28 grams of protein a day, which can be found in just two servings of cheese, beef, chicken, fish, eggs, yogurt, dried beans, milk, or peanut butter
- Approximately 800 mg of calcium (3-4 servings) are needed daily, which can be found in macaroni and cheese, yogurt, orange juice, or a glass of milk
- Children need at least 5 mcg of Vitamin D, which is available in a glass of milk or by playing outside in the sunshine for a few minutes every day
- The requisite 5 mg of iron can be found in lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, or whole grains
- Vitamin A (500 mcg) can be readily found in vegetables, including carrots and sweet potatoes
- Likewise, Vitamin C (45 mg) can found in fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, oranges, and cantaloupes
Of course, whenever in doubt, the Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children remains the standard for nutritional eating for children between the ages of 2 and 6. This includes Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta (6 servings a day); Vegetables (3 servings a day); Fruits (2 servings a day); Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese (2 servings a day); Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts (2 servings a day); Fats, Oils, and Sweets (use sparingly).
Snacks will typically not ruin your child's appetite an hour or so before dinner because he or she has a small stomach. Because your child may not receive enough nutrients during dinner, snacks should be viewed as an important time to meet those needs, especially if they are offered at a regularly scheduled "snack time."
However, beware of snacks that provide little more than calories such as chips, candy, and sodas. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says, "If you are going to offer snacks, make sure they are supplementing meals, not sabotaging them."
Here some healthy snack food suggestions:
- Graham Crackers
- Hard Cooked Eggs
- Raw Vegetables
- Crackers, Rice Cakes, Celery with Peanut Butter
- Dried or Canned Fruit
- Low-fat Pudding
- Animal Crackers
- Home-made trail mix made from dried fruit, nuts and dry cereal
- Bread Sticks
- Baked Chips and Salsa
- Dry Cereal