Kids Need Fiber, Too

Parenting in the Early Years

Kids Need Fiber, Too

Dietary fiber is a very important part of a healthy well-balanced diet. Currently, many children are not getting the fiber they need.

Dietary fiber comes from the part of plant foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dried beans, peas, nuts and seeds) that humans cannot digest and/or absorb. Dietary fiber is divided into 2 types: soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not.

Soluble fiber sources, such as psyllium, barley, and oat bran can help lower cholesterol levels.

Insoluble fiber sources such as wheat bran, whole grains, fruits & vegetables, along with additional fluids, aids normal digestion and will help prevent constipation. (Constipation is defined as the passage of hard, dry stools and not necessarily infrequent stooling.)

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends ½ gram fiber per kg of child's weight with a maximum of no greater than 35 grams of fiber daily.

Note: If your child is not meeting his recommended amount of fiber daily, increase it slowly because if advanced too quickly bloating and gas may result. The need for fluid increases as the fiber increases.

Easy Ways to Get More Fiber

  • Offer more fruits and vegetables
  • Combine favorite breakfast cereal with one that is high in fiber to increase the bulk
  • Use oatmeal as extenders for meat loaf, burgers and casseroles
  • Choose whole grain products rather than highly processed products. Bread should indicate whole wheat as the first ingredient on the label
  • Include beans in soups, salads, casseroles and dips
  • Add barley to soups, stews, casseroles and side dishes
  • Blend or process oatmeal to make oat flour. Use up to 1/3 oat flour for all-purpose flour called for in recipes for cookies, muffins and other baked goods. Try using ½ whole-wheat flour and ½ all-purpose flour in any recipe.

Note: Small children under 4 years of age do not have the chewing abilities for some of the above listed foods, which can be choking hazards. Be sure to serve foods in small pieces and age appropriate textures.

Call your child's physician during office hours if your child consistently passes hard, dry stools.

Dietary Fiber Content of Common Foods

Excellent Sources

Food Serving Size Fiber (grams)
Fiber One, cereal 1/2 cup 12
All-Bran, cereal 1/3 cup 10
Kidney Beans 1/2 cup 9
Bran Flakes, cereal 1 cup 8

 

Very Good Sources

Food Serving Size Fiber (grams)
Baked Beans 1/2 cup 6
Whole Wheat Pasta 1 cup 6
Corn on the cob 1 medium 5
Oat Bran, cooked 1/3 cup 5

Good Sources

Food Serving Size Fiber (grams)
Banana 1 medium 4
Prunes 3 4
Oatmeal, cooked 1 cup 4
Apple, with skin 1 medium 3
Carrot, raw  1 medium  3
Peas, cooked   1/2 cup  3
Whole-wheat Bread  1 slice  2
Popcorn   1 cup  2
Bran Muffin  1 small  2
Cereal Bar   1  1