LESSON 6: Meeting Nutritional Needs Throughout Life
Part 3: Nutritional Needs of Children 2-10 Years
Part 3: Nutritional Needs of Children (2-10 Years)
Children have a high need for energy and nutrients but they have small stomachs and cannot eat large portions of food at one time. For this reason, they need to eat foods rich in protein and other nutrients often: at least 3 times a day, with 2-3 snacks during the day. Although the child is still growing rapidly, the rate of growth is slower than in the first 12 months of life. At the end of the third year of age, girls and boys will have achieved about 50 per cent of their adult height. Both girls and boys grow at approximately the same rate until they reach puberty and they need the same amount of food and have the same nutrient needs. Very active children of either sex may need slightly more food to meet their energy needs than do less active children.
To think about
What are the special nutritional needs of children 2 to 10 years old?
How often do children this age need to eat?
School aged children who are hungry or have poor diets are likely to grow slowly, have little energy to study, play or do physical work; they do not concentrate or perform as well in school as they could. Because hungry children cannot learn well, they should all have three good meals each day and nutritious snacks, at school and at home, in between meals. It is important for children to have a nutritious meal before going to school, especially if they have to walk long distances to get there. A meal and nutrient-rich snacks while at school help keep up their energy. If schools do not provide meals or snacks, children should take food from home to eat at school. Whether these meals and snacks are provided by the family or by the school, it is important to include a variety of the different foods necessary for children’s nutritional needs. Early food experiences may have important effects on food likes and dislikes and eating patterns in later life.
Download Part 3 (1.2Mb)
Start the day right
Discuss why it is important for children to have a nutritious meal before going to school.
How can families make sure children eat a good breakfast in the morning?
What breakfast foods are served to children in your community?
Are they nutritious, quick and easy to eat in the morning?
Prepare a sheet of paper with the word BREAKFAST written in a vertical column or print out the Work sheet “Start the day right” (503kb).
List the foods that are good breakfast foods for children in your area and write them down next to the corresponding letter.
Colourful lunch bags
Print out or draw a chart with five columns and the headings as shown on the Work sheet “Colourful lunch bags” (520kb) . Fill in each column with nutritious and healthy foods and snacks that can be taken to school and eaten during the break. If you have younger brothers, sisters or friends, choose the foods to write in the chart together with them. Tell them that each day they should try to pack to school one item from at least three different colour groups. Remind them that they helped make the selection and will be eating foods they chose themselves!
- Fact sheet “Nutrition of children (6 months – 2 years)” (2.2Mb)
- Work sheet “Start the day right” (516kb)
- Work sheet “Colourful lunch bags” (328kb)
Download Part 3 Materials (1.6Mb)
Review these four key points to remember about a healthy diet for children under ten. See if your knowledge has improved and share it with people who are responsible for preparing foods, meals and snacks for children in your family.
Nutritional needs of children 2-10 years old
- Children have high energy needs but small stomachs and need to eat at least three good meals a day with healthy snacks in between.
- Girls and boys this age need the same amount of food and have the same nutrient needs.
- Schoolchildren who are hungry cannot concentrate and learn well. Their day should start with a nutritious meal before going to school.
- It is very important to include a variety of different foods in children’s meals in order to meet all of their nutritional needs.