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How to Incorporate Fiber Into Your Child’s Diet

May 6, 2021 • Our Blog • General Health
Adding fiber to your child’s diet offers many health benefits — but make sure you stay away from supplements.  Eating more fiber is one of the easiest — and often tastiest — ways to improve your diet. Fiber has a huge number of health benefits for both children and adults, and incorporating it into your child’s diet can be a lot easier than you think. The reason many people are familiar with the health benefits of fiber is that it can help prevent or relieve constipation — a problem that can be particularly common in children. That isn’t the only reason you should try to incorporate fiber into your child’s diet, though. Eating fiber can increase the feeling of fullness, which can help with weight control for both children and adults. Fiber also lowers cholesterol, helps prevent heart disease and diabetes, and can even help lower the chances of getting some types of cancer. 

How to Incorporate Fiber Into Your Kid’s Diet

Before you start working to bring more fiber into your child’s diet, you should first understand how much fiber your child should be getting. As a general rule, leading health organizations recommend that both kids and adults consume around 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories they eat. That generally means that kids aged one to three should get about 19 grams of fiber per day and kids between the ages of four and eight should eat around 25 grams of fiber daily. To reach that number, you’re going to need to make some conscious efforts to increase the fiber in your child’s diet. The good news is that foods that are high in fiber tend to have other health benefits as well, so by adding these foods to your child’s diet, you’ll be increasing their overall nutrition.  In addition to trying to include fruits and vegetables at every meal and choosing whole grains instead of refined grains, some ways you can incorporate fiber into your kid’s diet include: 
  • Topping yogurt, oatmeal, and cereal with nuts and fruits
  • Adding beans to salads and soups
  • Replacing unhealthy snacks with air-popped popcorn, whole-grain crackers, or vegetables and fruits — especially berries with seeds or apples and pears with the peel still on
  • Making sandwiches with whole-grain bread, wraps, or a whole-grain English muffin
  • Switching to a high-fiber cereal instead of a sugary one. While kids may not love cereals like muesli, many like Raisin Bran-style cereals, which have about 5 grams of fiber per bowl
  • Adding bran to baked goods

Avoiding Too Much Fiber

As with anything in life, when it comes to fiber, you can have too much of a good thing. Too much fiber — especially in the form of supplements like pills or Metamucil — can lead to tummy aches and diarrhea. It’s best if kids get all their fiber from their food. You should also be careful to increase the amount of fiber in their diet gradually to avoid bloating, gas, or cramps.  In addition, it’s important for kids to continue drinking plenty of water as they add fiber to their diets. Water can move fiber through the intestines, helping to ensure your child is getting the maximum benefit from it. 

When to Speak to a Pediatrician

If your child is consistently “stopped up” and simply adding fiber to their diet isn’t helping, you should speak to your pediatrician before starting to add adult fiber supplements to their diet. They can guide you toward the right supplements or make suggestions on more long-term dietary changes that will help your child feel better.  At Kids’ Health, our pediatricians can help you understand the best ways to bring more fiber into your child’s diet. They can also help you navigate the right path forward if you need to consider alternate methods to help reduce your child’s constipation.  A leading pediatric clinic serving the Beverly, Massachusetts, area, Kids’ Health takes a comprehensive approach to healthcare to help your kids feel their best. Call us or reach out online to schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment today....