To help your child grow up active, healthy and strong, you need to make sure he’s eating the daily recommended servings of fruit. It’s not always easy to understand or follow national guidelines, so use these tips to ensure that you’re fueling your kids right.
Recommended fruit Servings for kids
Your child’s growing body requires the vitamins, minerals and nutrients provided from a well rounded diet full of colorful fruits. As your child grows, the number of calories and nutrients she needs to maintain her health will gradually increase, along with the number of recommended daily fruit servings. Consider the following guidelines from Health Canada:
- Girls and boys 2 to 3 years old should eat four total servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Girls and boys 4 to 8 years old should eat five total servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Girls and boys between 9 and 13 years should eat six total servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Girls between 14 and 18 should eat seven total servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Boys between 14 and 18 should eat eight total servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
While Health Canada doesn’t differentiate between fruit and vegetable servings, you can look to other countries for more specific fruit guidelines. In fact, the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a calculator that lets you plug in information regarding your child’s age, sex and activity level to get a more tailored daily fruit recommendation. Generally speaking, the recommendation will fall between 1 and 2.5 cups of fruit each day.
Differences Between Sexes
Until age 14, boys and girls follow the same general fruit consumption guidelines, but after puberty, boys’ recommendations increase. That’s because, until puberty, boys and girls are similar in height, weight and muscle mass. After puberty, however, boys grow taller, gain more muscle mass and must consume more daily calories than girls to remain healthy. At this point, the calories consumed from fruit must increase to remain in proportion with the total daily calorie intake.
To ensure that your child consumes the right number of fruit servings each day, you need to know what a serving of fruit looks like. Any half-cup equivalent of fruit, berries or 100-percent fruit juice is considered a single serving. If you don’t have a measuring cup handy, eyeball the fruit in question. If it’s the size of a tennis or billiards ball, then it’s approximately a single serving. If you’re serving dried fruit, aim for about a quarter cup’s worth — or the amount equivalent in size to an egg.