Introduction

Nutrition for kids is based on the same principles as nutrition for adults. Everyone needs the same types of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and fat. What's different about nutrition for kids, however, is the amount of specific nutrients needed at different ages.

So what's the best formula to fuel your child's growth and development? Click on the tabs to the left for nutrition basics for girls and boys at various ages, based on dietary guidelines published by the Institute of Medicine.

If you have questions about nutrition for kids or specific concerns about your child's diet, talk to your child's doctor or a registered dietitian.

Ages 2 to 3: Girls and boys
Calories 1,000 to 1,400, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 5 to 20% of daily calories (13 to 50 grams for 1,000 daily calories)
Carbohydrates 45 to 65% of daily calories (113 to 163 grams for 1,000 daily calories)
Total fat 30 to 40% of daily calories (33 to 44 grams for 1,000 daily calories)
Sodium 1,000 milligrams a day
Fiber 19 grams a day
Calcium 500 milligrams a day

Ages 4 to 8: Girls
Calories 1,200 to 1,800, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 10 to 30% of daily calories (30 to 90 grams for 1,200 daily calories)
Carbohydrates 45 to 65% of daily calories (135 to 195 grams for 1,200 daily calories)
Total fat 25 to 35% of daily calories (33 to 47 grams for 1,200 daily calories)
Sodium 1,200 milligrams a day
Fiber 25 grams a day
Calcium 800 milligrams a day

Ages 4 to 8: Boys
Calories 1,400 to 2,000, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 10 to 30% of daily calories (35 to 105 grams for 1,400 daily calories)
Carbohydrates 45 to 65% of daily calories (158 to 228 grams for 1,400 daily calories)
Total fat 25 to 35% of daily calories (39 to 54 grams for 1,400 daily calories)
Sodium 1,200 milligrams a day
Fiber 25 grams a day
Calcium 800 milligrams a day

Ages 9 to 13: Girls

Calories 1,600 to 2,200, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 10 to 30% of daily calories (40 to 120 grams for 1,600 daily calories)
Carbohydrates 45 to 65% of daily calories (180 to 260 grams for 1,600 daily calories)
Total fat 25 to 35% of daily calories (44 to 62 grams for 1,600 daily calories)
Sodium 1,500 milligrams a day

Fiber 26 grams a day
Calcium 1,300 milligrams a day

Ages 9 to 13: Boys
Calories 1,800 to 2,600, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 10 to 30% of daily calories (45 to 135 grams for 1,800 daily calories)
Carbohydrates 45 to 65% of daily calories (203 to 293 grams for 1,800 daily calories)
Total fat 25 to 35% of daily calories (50 to 70 grams for 1,800 daily calories)
Sodium 1,500 milligrams a day
Fiber 31 grams a day
Calcium 1,300 milligrams a day

Ages 14 to 18: Girls
Calories 1,800 to 2,400, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 10 to 30% of daily calories (45 to 135 grams for 1,800 daily calories)
Carbohydrates 45 to 65% of daily calories (203 to 293 grams for 1,800 daily calories)
Total fat 25 to 35% of daily calories (50 to 70 grams for 1,800 daily calories)
Sodium 1,500 milligrams a day
Fiber 26 grams a day
Calcium 1,300 milligrams a day

Ages 14 to 18: Boys

Calories 2,200 to 3,200, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 10 to 30% of daily calories (55 to 165 grams for 2,200 daily calories)
Carbohydrates 45 to 65% of daily calories (248 to 358 grams for 2,200 daily calories)
Total fat 25 to 35% of daily calories (61 to 86 grams for 2,200 daily calories)
Sodium 1,500 milligrams a day
Fiber 38 grams a day
Calcium 1,300 milligrams a day