One of the most difficult times of the day can be when it comes to dinner time, especially for the parents of 6-year-olds.
It can be hard to know what the right amount of food to feed your 6-year-old is, and as a parent you can often feel very pressured to make sure you get it right.
It’s also an unfortunate fact that childhood obesity is on the rise and becoming more common, and this is something that can be detrimental to the health, and future health, of your child. It can lead to different conditions that can really dimmish the quality of life of your child.
However, whilst it is important not to over-feed your child, it is also extremely important not to under-feed them either, as this can also lead to health problems caused primarily from a deficiency in nutrients.
The key is to make sure that your child is eating enough food to fuel their every-day activities, ensure they are getting the right minerals and vitamins, whilst not over-eating and indulging on the wrong types of food. They need to be eating lots of nutritious food so that they are getting all of their essential nutrients.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about how much a 6-year-old should eat, how often you should be feeding them along with some ideas of the types of food you should give them.
How Much of Each Food Group?
So, in terms of how much you should feed your 6-year-old, there are certain amounts of each food group they should be getting daily.
Firstly, your 6-year-old should be having about 4 servings of dairy daily. So, they should be having the equivalent of at least 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of yoghurt and 1 ounce of cheese. It’s important that your child gets this daily intake because dairy provides them with essential nutrients including calcium, riboflavin and protein. All of these nutrients are extremely important to your child’s growth and development.
Another important food group your 6-year-old should be getting plenty of is meat or any other form of protein. Just as with dairy, they should be having 4 servings of protein every day. This is the equivalent of about 3 oz of meat (such as beef, pork, fish or chicken), 1 oz of eggs and 2 to 3 tablespoons of peanut butter.
Ensuring they consume the recommended daily amount of meat and protein will help to ensure they get their full dose of essential nutrients including niacin, thiamin and iron. Iron is a nutrient of particular importance as it majorly helps with keeping energy levels high.
Fruit and Vegetables
I’m sure you have all heard of the importance of getting your ‘5 fruit and vegetables a day’, and this is something that is particularly important for your 6-year-old. They need to be eating between 3 and 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every single day. They provide crucial vitamins including vitamin A and C, and these 5 servings can be made up of a mixture of fruit, vegetables or even fruit juice. However, it is important not to over-do the amount of fruit juice you give them because they tend to contain a lot of sugar.
Breads and Cereals
The next food group is breads and cereals. This is what is really going to give your 6-year-old that sustained energy that they need and that will allow them to run around to their heart’s content throughout the day!
You should be feeding your 6-year-old 6 or more servings of breads and cereals every single day. This can include whole grain breads, breakfast cereals, pasta, rice and crackers. These are great to include in your child’s main meals as it will really fill them up and keep them happy! Ensuring they get the appropriate daily consumption of breads and cereals will ensure that your child is receiving enough thiamin, iron and niacin.
Fats and Oils
In terms of fats and oils, another key food category, it is important to make sure your child has about 3 servings of these every day. Whilst they might not seem like the healthiest, they are a substantial source of calories for your child, which they need as fuel and to keep their energy levels high. Important nutrients that your child will get from fats and oils include fatty acids and vitamins A, D, K and E.
And then finally, when it comes to the treats that they can have, you should limit this to 3 portions daily. Each portion should be limited to about 100 calories and should really be given in moderation. Treats such as puddings, ice cream and jelly contain a high number of calories from unhealthy fats and sugar which is not great for your child’s health
The overall ‘rule’ is that your 6-year-old should be getting a very balanced diet. They need a mixture of protein, carbohydrates and fats to fully support their growth and development, and to enable them to have enough energy.
How Often Should They Eat?
So, whilst it’s important to know how much you should feed your 6-year-old, it’s also important to know how often they should be eating.
One of the best ways to feed your 6-year-old is to make sure they get all their 3 meals a day, and that they also have some substantial stacks throughout the day. This is crucial to making sure that your child can get enough nutrients and energy to fuel all their antics! Children naturally have a faster metabolism than adults, and they generally need feeding very regularly in order to sustain their focus and energy. You want to keep that child’s excitement thriving!
Something that is important to note when considering how much your 6-year-old should eat, is that every child is different. The exact amount they should eat will differ depending on their weight, height and how active they are. So, some children may really need to eat a little bit more or less than others. If you are unsure then please consult your doctor or dietician, and they can help guide you in the right direction about how much your 6-year-old should be eating.