What You Should Know about Kids and Fiber

Dietary fiber is a substance contained in plants, grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts, and is necessary for a number of important functions that contribute to good health. For instance, eating enough fiber is essential for reducing your child's risk of certain cancers, heading off heart diseases, preventing blood sugar swings and even helping maintain a healthy weight.

Kids and Fiber: How Much is Enough?

While all children need to eat enough fiber on a regular basis to reap the health benefits, most young people today fall short of the mark. Furthermore, increasing the amount your child gets needs to be done carefully. This is because if you load her up with fiber-rich foods too quickly, it can cause digestive side effects.

That's why it's always best to follow the recommended fiber intake guidelines for your child's specific situation and when making increases, to do so gradually so her body can adjust.

Recommended Guidelines

Please review the following suggestions from the Institute of Medicine for how much fiber your child needs at different ages.

Babies/Toddlers: While many babies benefit from incorporating fiber into their diet in order to help them regulate their digestive system, it isn't until your child reaches age 2 or 3 that you need to make a conscious effort to incorporate 19 grams of fiber a day.

School-age Children: When your child is between 4 and 8 years old, her fiber needs increase to 25 grams per day.

Tweens/Teens: At around age 9, the fiber requirements become different for boys and girls. For females between the ages of 9 and 18, the necessary amount increases to 26 grams a day, while males between 9 and 13 need a total of 31 grams a day. Once a boy turns 14, his needs increase even further to 38 grams a day.

Fiber Smarts

If you're struggling to add more fiber into your child's diet in order to meet the recommended guidelines, please consider this list of foods you can try.

  • Switch to whole grain breads, crackers and cereals.
  • Serve fresh fruits and vegetables several times a day.
  • Offer low-fat popcorn as a healthy snack.
  • Incorporate peas and beans in your meals.
  • Add sunflower and sesame seeds to your menus to squeeze more fiber in.
  • Introduce dried fruits or stewed ones.
  • Prepare raw vegetables instead of sugary treats.
  • Leave the skin on fruits and potatoes since this contains the fiber she needs.

Drink Up

It's important to note that some types of fibers actually soak up water, so as you increase your child's fiber intake, you'll also need to encourage her to drink more, too.


Dr. Sears


Mayo Clinic


Nutrition Links Program, Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences