How Much Do Your Kids Really Need To Eat?

  • Parents Only

By: Phoebe Ackland, ellaslist

Fussy eaters that won’t go near anything green, children that refuse to eat breakfast, children that only want sugary treats….there’s a plethora of issues parents face when it comes to kids and food. When the night is over, we don’t blame you for just being happy that your little ones got through the day with seemingly plenty of energy, and that the battle is won for another day, not stopping to consider how much, how little, or how quality the food you are giving them truly is.

According to The Daily Telegraph, 1 in 4 Aussie kids and teens have a significant weight issue, their diets consisting of far too many junk foods. For toddlers, it seems that up to 30% of the calories they ingest come from junk foods, whilst junk foods account for 40% of a teenager’s calories. The cause? Apparently, it’s due to a culture of overeating- consuming more calories than needed. So, how much do children really need? We bet it’s not as much as you think!

daily calorie intake

Toddlers (1-3yrs)

Don’t worry if your toddler seems disinterested in food! Their energy requirements have reduced a lot since they were newborns and infants, according to The Daily Telegraph. They require just 800-1000 calories per day. The Daily Telegraph offers an awesome meal plan for toddlers, consisting of 910 calories, and no junk food!
Breakfast: 1 boiled egg + 1 slice of toast = 160 cal, Small cup of milk (150ml) = 100 cal
Lunch: 1 slice bread + avocado = 140 cal, 100g yoghurt + fruit = 160 cal
Dinner: 50g mince + ½ cup pasta = 160 cal, Cut up salad = 40 cal
Snacks: 20g cheese = 70 cal, 1 fruit = 80 cal

milk and fruit

Primary Schoolers (4-7yrs)

Primary schoolers’ energy requirements differ depending on gender, activity levels, and stages of growth. The Daily Telegraph warns that many children of this age won’t eat much at school but will overeat at home afterwards, mostly with high calorie ‘junk’ foods that quickly topples your daily calorie intake over the limit. They require around 1000-14000 calories per day. Here is The Daily Telegraph’s meal plan for children of this age, weighing in at 1180 calories.
Breakfast: Smoothie with milk and banana = 250 cal
School: Carrot sticks = 20 cal, 1 fruit = 80 cal, Popcorn = 60 cal, Chicken Wrap = 200 cal
After school: Homemade banana bread = 150 cal, Glass of milk = 100 cal
Dinner: 70g chicken + 1 potato + peas = 200 cal
Dessert: ½ cup yoghurt + berries = 120 cal


Pre-Teens (8-12yrs)

Differences in calorie requirements for this age group depends heavily on activity levels, according to The Daily Telegraph. Children who are extremely active could require up to 500-600 more calories per day than an inactive child. A sign of overeating at this age is weight around the abdominal area, so if your child claims to be hungry often but is carrying some extra fat in that area, you know why! Pre-teens require around 1400-1800 calories per day. Check out The Daily Telegraph’s pre-teen meal plan, consisting of 1700 calories.
Breakfast: Ham and cheese toasted sandwich = 300 cal
School: Cut up salad = 60cal, 1 fruit = 80cal, Popcorn = 60cal, Cheese and crackers = 150 cal, Tuna and avocado bread roll = 250 cal
After school: Toasted sandwich = 300 cal, Homemade milkshake = 200 cal
Dinner: 2 lamb cutlets + 1 potato + peas = 300 cal

mango and avocado