Is your child eating the variety of fruit and vegetables they need?

Ensuring your child eats a variety of colorful fruit and vegetables is essential for their growth development.

Ensuring your child eats a variety of colorful fruit and vegetables is essential for their growth development. Fruit and vegetables are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals that can help protect your child’s health. According to USDA’s Choose My Plate any type of fruit/vegetable and 100 percent fruit/vegetable juices are part of these two food groups.

The amount of fruit and vegetables your child need varies depending on their age, gender and level of physical activity. Using the below chart can serve as a guide when determining your child’s fruit and vegetable needs. If you have specific questions related to your child’s dietary needs/restrictions, please consult with your health provider.  

Children

Fruit

  Vegetables  

2-3 years of age → 1 cup

 

  2-3 years of age → 1 cup

 

4-8 years of age → 1 to 1 ½ cups

 

  4-8 years of age → 1 ½ cups

              Girls

 9-13 years of age → 1 ½ cups

 

 9-13 years of age → 2 cups 

 

 14-18 years of age → 1 ½ cups

 

14-18 years of age → 2 ½ cups

              Boys

9-13 years of age → 1 ½ cups

 

 9-13 years of age → 2 ½ cups

 

14-18 years of age → 2 cups

14-18 years of age → 3 cups

Taking some simple steps to help your child increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables isn’t as difficult as it seems. Learn how to handle eating challenges and how to avoid conflict. If your child is a “Choosy” eater, involve your child in the selection process and offer two to three food choices during the meal prep or when shopping together. Most importantly, focus on your child’s positive eating behaviors and be patient. Treat food jags casually, since they may only last for a short period of time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggests the following tips to increase these foods.

  • Keep several forms vegetables and fruit on hand (fresh, canned and frozen)
  • Serve fruit and vegetables as a snack (tip: smoothies are a great way to sneak in a vegetable)
  • Encourage fruit instead of sugary desserts (tip: top off some strawberries with low-fat yogurt)

Michigan State University Extension offers various educational programs for adults, families and children. If you are interested in learning about our nutrition education programs, please contact your local County Extension office or visit our website.

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