Good nutrition for kids plays an important role in helping children and adolescents achieve good health. Read on to learn more about healthy foods for kids and teenagers.
As your child grows and develops, you should provide him with a healthy diet. Here are some tips to guide you:
My Healthy Plate as a guide when planning your child's meals and snacks. No one food can provide all the nutrients he needs, so make sure that your child consumes a variety of food from the 4 food groups:
Related: Guilt-Free Treats to Meet Your Child's Nutritional Needs
Choose healthier oils and remember that food high in sugar and salt should only be eaten sparingly.
Since the energy and nutrient needs vary from birth to pre-school and school-going ages, there are specific recommended number of servings for each of the food group for different age groups. Having the right number of servings in the daily diet will help your child get all the nutrients he needs.
Recommended number of servings^ per day
6 months (181 days) - 12 months
Brown Rice and Wholemeal Bread
½ - 1
Meat and Others
Of which are dairy foods or calcium containing foods
For infants aged 6 months – 12 months, their dairy foods or calcium-rich foods servings should be provided in the form of 750ml breast milk or infant formula.
Get your child to adopt healthy eating habits from a young age, and he will be more likely to continue having a preference for them as an adult. Helping your child make better food choices now will have a big impact on his health and quality of life in the future. Be a role model and
Make Healthier Choices too!
Fat is an essential nutrient in your child's diet. It provides energy and helps absorb, transport and store vitamins in the body. However, too much fat, particularly saturated and trans fat can lead to excessive weight gain and health problems like heart disease and stroke.
Learn more about fats here.
Note that if your child is under 2 years of age, fat restriction is not recommended as he is still growing rapidly and requires more energy to fuel his growth.
Related: Healthier Alternatives to Palm Oil
Fruit and vegetables are bursting with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals (beneficial plant substances) and fibre. Get your child into a routine of eating fruit and vegetables by offering him a variety of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables every day. If your child simply refuses to eat them, gently encourage him to try. If he still refuses, come up with creative ways to present the fruit or vegetables. For example, cut them into different shapes and sizes. It might take several attempts before he tries them. The key is not to give up!
Wholegrain food such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and oats are more nutritious than refined grains (e.g. white rice) because they contain more vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre. So, remember to include them as an essential component of your child's diet.
Related: Why are Wholegrains Good for You?
Calcium is the key building block for strong, healthy bones and teeth. During childhood and teenage years, bones grow longer and stronger, which makes this the best years for your child to invest in his bone health. The best calcium sources are dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Other good sources include fortified food (e.g. soybean milk), dark green leafy vegetables and fish with edible bones (e.g. sardines).
Reducing the salt intake in children and teens reduces the risk of high blood pressure in adulthood. Take action to influence your child's liking for less or non-salty food early in life. Limit the use of salt, sauces and salty processed food (e.g. luncheon meat, salted vegetables and chips).
Added sugar only provides extra calories to your child's diet, with little other nutritional value. Consuming more calories than he can burn through physical activity can lead to undesirable weight gain. Sugary food and drinks also increase the risk of tooth decay, especially if dental hygiene is neglected. Most children have a sweet tooth, so encourage them to consume less food and drinks containing added sugar.
recommended dietary allowances for Singaporean children and teenagers
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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