Nutritional Needs for Growing Kids

Having young kids in the house is a crazy ride. They eat so little, but still seem to have unlimited bouts of energy. Just imagine if you could harness the energy of a toddler, it would be the ultimate power source!

But to keep all that energy going, your child needs a well-balanced diet with all the nutrients needed for their growth. In that case, it’s up to you to stay on top of your child’s nutrition. Unfortunately, when it comes to nutrition, all the best foods for childhood nutrition are the ones that our kids like to steer clear of. It’s like they have an in-built radar against healthy food! Especially when it comes to fussy eaters, it can be hard to fulfil their nutrition requirements. This is why you should customize your child’s meal plans around their likes and dislikes. This can be a hard task to achieve, but we’ve got a helpful list for you! Here are the top nutrients for children’s growth that you need to include in your kid’s diet, along with tips on how to make them work!


      1.  Protein:

Proteins are a must in every meal plan. They play a key part in the growth, maintenance and repair of body tissue. They also help your body in developing immunity against bacteria and infections. They are absolutely crucial for overall growth, especially when it comes to kids. Protein-rich foods include:


  • Eggs
  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Pulses
  • Paneer
  • Almonds
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Milk
  • Broccoli


Tips for kids:

While most kids love chicken and egg at mealtime, getting the right protein intake can be hard for vegetarian families. You can include pulses & legumes such as beans, chickpeas and cowpeas, in your curries and dishes or prepare paneer dishes as well at mealtimes to fulfil your kid’s protein intake. Giving them some almonds, pistachios and cashews to munch on as snacks in the evenings also work well.

     2.  Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates happen to be the body’s most important source of energy, which puts them high on the list of necessary nutrients for children’s growth. Carbohydrates are of 3 types; starches, fibers, and sugars. Here are some sources of carbohydrates:

  • Rice
  • Cereal
  • Oats
  • Pasta
  • Bananas and apples
  • Kidney beans and chickpeas
  • Beets, potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Green vegetables, cucumber, carrots

Tips for kids:

Since rice is already a big part of Indian cuisine, including carbohydrates in your kid’s diet should be no biggie. In case your kid is not a big rice eater, you can whip up some tasty sandwiches or bread pakodas, roti rolls as snacks to knock that carbohydrate quota right out of the park!

     3.  Fats:

Fats are another great source of energy for growing kids. Fats, along with carbohydrates and proteins, are one of the 3 macronutrients that their body requires daily. It is important to focus on ‘good fats’ rather than unhealthy sources of fats to ensure that it does not negatively impact your child’s growth. Saturated and unsaturated sources of fats fall under good fats, though saturated fats (whole milk, butter, cheese and so on) should be had sparingly. Trans fats are classified as unhealthy fats, they should be avoided when possible. Trans fats include deep-fried foods, baked goods and processed snacks. Some healthy sources of fats for your kid are:

  • Dairy products
  • Tofu
  • Full-fat yoghurt
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts)


Tips for kids:

Fast food cravings can be tough to beat, but try to steer your kid towards healthy fats by serving them yoghurt along with their lunch or breakfast and looking up yummy kids recipes that use tofu.

     4.  Calcium:

This list would be incomplete without calcium, which is essential in developing healthy bones in growing kids. It is also great for strong teeth, most kids have adversity towards brushing so they need all the help they can get in the teeth department! Here are some calcium-rich foods for you to stock up on:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt
  • Beans and lentils
  • Leafy greens
  • Broccoli

Tips for kids:

We know it can be hard to get your kids to eat their greens and beans, but the key to getting around fussy eaters lies in presentation. Try adding paneer bhurji on toast to your breakfast menu and whip up some yummy palak paneer to ace that calcium intake.

     5.  Iron:

Iron is another necessary nutrient for a growing child’s nutrition. It is essential for physical growth, muscle metabolism and cell functioning. Our bodies use iron for haemoglobin production which helps red blood cells to oxygenate our body cells. Iron deficiency in toddlers can lead to anemia. But don’t worry, it is fairly easy to reach the right iron intake levels in toddlers, just make sure to include the following food items in their diet:

  • Red meat and poultry
  • Cereals and oatmeal
  • Beans and green peas
  • Dried fruits such as raisins

Tips for kids:

Meat and poultry is a rich source of iron, which is great news since most kids love eating chicken. Having cereals and oats or toast with baked beans for breakfast is also a good way to get that iron intake in at the start of the day. You can give your kids some tasty dried fruits to munch on as well such as raisins, figs and apricots.



So there you have it, these are the top 5 vital nutrients for children's growth - protein, carbs, fats, calcium and iron. A well-balanced meal should include all five daily, in controlled proportions. Other important nutrients for children’s growth include:

  • Fiber
  • Vitamin A & C
  • Zinc
  • Potassium

Remember, a balanced and nutritious diet is only one aspect of healthy growth. Make sure that your kid is getting enough sleep and physical activity too. Encourage your kids to play outside for at least an hour every day. A good diet, when complemented by a good sleep schedule and healthy exercise, can do wonders for your growing kiddos!