You want your child to eat healthy foods, but do you know which nutrients are necessary and in what amounts? Here's a quick overview of nutrition for kids.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Nutrition for kids is based on the same principles as nutrition for adults. Everyone needs the same types of nutrients — such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and fat. Children, however, need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages.

So what's the best formula to fuel your child's growth and development? Check out these nutrition basics for girls and boys at various ages, based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Consider these nutrient-dense foods:

  • Protein. Choose seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Fruits. Encourage your child to eat a variety of fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruits — rather than fruit juice. If your child drinks juice, make sure it's 100 percent juice and limit his or her servings.
  • Vegetables. Serve a variety of fresh, canned or frozen vegetables — especially dark green, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas.
  • Grains. Choose whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, or brown or wild rice.
  • Dairy. Encourage your child to eat and drink fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soy beverages.

Aim to limit your child's calories from solid fats and added sugar, such as butter, cake and soda. Look for ways to replace solid fats with vegetable and nut oils, which provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Oils are naturally present in olives, nuts, avocados and seafood.

If you have questions about nutrition for kids or specific concerns about your child's diet, talk to your child's doctor or a registered dietitian.

Ages 2 to 3: Daily guidelines for girls and boys
Calories 1,000-1,400, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 2-4 ounces
Fruits 1-1.5 cups
Vegetables 1-1.5 cups
Grains 3-5 ounces
Dairy 2-2.5 cups
Ages 4 to 8: Daily guidelines for girls
Calories 1,200-1,800, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 3-5 ounces
Fruits 1-1.5 cups
Vegetables 1.5-2.5 cups
Grains 4-6 ounces
Dairy 2.5-3 cups
Ages 4 to 8: Daily guidelines for boys
Calories 1,200-2,000, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 3-5.5 ounces
Fruits 1-2 cups
Vegetables 1.5-2.5 cups
Grains 4-6 ounces
Dairy 2.5-3 cups
Ages 9 to 13: Daily guidelines for girls
Calories 1,400-2,200, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 4-6 ounces
Fruits 1.5-2 cups
Vegetables 1.5-3 cups
Grains 5-7 ounces
Dairy 2.5-3 cups
Ages 9 to 13: Daily guidelines for boys
Calories 1,600-2,600, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 5-6.5 ounces
Fruits 1.5-2 cups
Vegetables 2-3.5 cups
Grains 5-9 ounces
Dairy 3 cups
Ages 14 to 18: Daily guidelines for girls
Calories 1,800-2,400, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 5-6.5 ounces
Fruits 1.5-2 cups
Vegetables 2.5-3 cups
Grains 6-8 ounces
Dairy 3 cups
Ages 14 to 18: Daily guidelines for boys
Calories 2,000-3,200, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 5.5-7 ounces
Fruits 2-2.5 cups
Vegetables 2.5-4 cups
Grains 6-10 ounces
Dairy 3 cups
Jul. 09, 2014