School-Aged Child Nutrition

School-aged children (ages 6 to 12) continue to need healthy foods and nutritious snacks. They have a consistent but slow rate of growth and usually eat four to five times a day (including snacks). Many food habits, likes, and dislikes are established during this time. Family, friends, and the media (especially TV) influence their food choices and eating habits. School-aged children are often willing to eat a wider variety of foods than their younger siblings. Eating healthy after-school snacks are important, as these snacks may contribute up to one-third of the total calorie intake for the day. School-aged children have developed more advanced feeding skills, are better at feeding skills, and are able to help with meal preparation.

The following are some helpful mealtime hints for school-aged children:

  • Always serve breakfast, even if it has to be "on the run." Some ideas for a quick, healthy breakfast include the following:

    • fruit
    • milk
    • bagel
    • cheese toast
    • cereal
    • peanut butter sandwich
  • Take advantage of big appetites after school by serving healthy snacks such as the following:
    • fruit
    • vegetables and dip
    • yogurt
    • sandwich
    • cheese and crackers
    • milk and cereal
  • Set good examples for eating habits.
  • Allow children to help with meal planning and preparation.
  • Serve meals at the table, instead of in front of the television, to avoid distractions.

Healthy food choices

The food guide pyramid is a guideline to help you and your child eat a healthy diet. The food guide pyramid can help you and your child eat a variety of foods while encouraging the right amount of calories and fat. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services have prepared the food guide pyramid to guide parents in selecting foods for children 2 to 6 years of age. Choose the proper number of servings from each food group for your child each day.