How to Add Fiber to Your Child's Diet

Three Parts:Providing Your Child High Fiber FoodsBulking Up Meals and Snacks with Extra FiberMonitoring Your Child's Diet and Fiber Intake

Adequate fiber intake is an essential component of a nutritious and well balanced diet for your child. Unfortunately, many children, especially in the US, do not get nearly enough fiber from their diet. Many processed foods (like fast food and junk food) have become more prevalent in children's diet and have taken the place of higher fiber foods like whole grains and vegetables.[1] Since fiber is such an essential nutrient for children, it's wise to try to add more high fiber foods to your child's diet. By focusing on specific food groups and limiting certain types of foods, you can easily increase your child's fiber intake.

Part 1
Providing Your Child High Fiber Foods

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    Serve 100% whole grains. One easy way to get in more fiber into your child's diet is by serving them whole grains. Items like bread, rice and pasta are usually well received by children and can offer a valuable source of fiber.
    • Whole grains are a better and more nutritious food compared to refined grains. They're minimally processed which leaves the fibrous part of the grain intact.
    • Refined grains are much more processed and the fibrous part of the grain (the bran) is removed. This leaves items like white rice or white bread much lower in fiber.
    • When preparing meals or snacks for your child, provide them with a serving of 100% whole grains. Measure out 1/2 cup of cooked grains or 1 oz of grains.[2]
    • Whole grains to try include: brown rice, quinoa, oats, whole grain pasta, whole wheat bread, whole wheat wraps/tortillas, whole grain waffles, whole grain English muffins and popcorn.
    • If your child doesn't like the nutty, chewy flavor of some whole grains, consider using white whole grain. For example, you can purchase 100% white whole grain bread and pastas.
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    Focus on higher fiber vegetables. Another food group that provides a valuable source of fiber is vegetables. Although these might not be your child's favorite food, they can help increase their overall fiber intake.
    • Your child should consume a serving of vegetables 2-3 times a day. Measure out 1 cup of vegetables or 2 cups of leafy greens.[3]
    • The highest fiber vegetables include: artichokes, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, corn, potatoes and carrots.[4] With any vegetable, including these, leave the skins on if they're edible - like potato skins. This is where a lot of the fiber is found in many vegetables.
    • If your child isn't a big fan of all of the higher fiber vegetables, that's OK. All vegetables contain some fiber which will be helpful overall.
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    Increase the amount of high fiber fruits. Increasing the amount of fruit in your child's diet is another easy way to get in more fiber. Like grains, fruits are generally enjoyed by most children since they're a little sweet.
    • Similar to vegetables, you should aim to have your child eat about 2 servings of fruit everyday. This might be a small piece of fruit or about 1/2 cup of chopped fruit.[5]
    • The highest fiber fruits include: raspberries, pears, apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries and raisins.[6]
    • In addition, keep the edible skins on the fruit you serve your child. Do not peel apples or pears as this is where a lot of the fiber comes from in these particular fruits.
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    Choose high fiber protein sources. You may not think protein is a great source of fiber. However, some protein sources, especially vegetarian protein sources, do contain a decent amount of fiber.
    • Many protein sources, like chicken, fish or beef, do not contain any fiber. However, foods like beans, lentils, tempeh and nuts do contain some fiber.
    • Since these foods fall into the protein category, they should be measured and portioned as such. Serve 1/2 cup or about 3-4 oz of these fiber-rich foods.[7]
    • The highest fiber foods include: split peas, lentils, black beans, lima beans, baked beans, almonds, pistachios, tempeh and pecans.
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    Serve fiber fortified foods. Another way you can increase your child's fiber intake is by serving them more fortified foods. Some food manufacturers are now producing foods that have added fiber.[8]
    • Since fiber is such a "hot topic", many companies are now adding extra fiber to their foods. Foods that usually do not contain fiber or very low amounts, now have a higher content.
    • Foods that are commonly fortified with fiber include: soy milk, yogurt, OJ, cereals, granola bars and protein bars.
    • Although not fortified with fiber, fruit juices that have pulp also have fiber. Since the pulp is the flesh of the fruit, it contains fiber which makes these drinks higher in fiber.

Part 2
Bulking Up Meals and Snacks with Extra Fiber

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    Add oat or wheat bran to foods. If your child isn't a huge fan of fruits, vegetables or whole grains, there are other ways to add more fiber to your child's meals. Oat and wheat bran are great ingredients to use to help increase fiber.
    • Part of what makes a whole grain, "whole", is that it contains the bran of the kernel. The bran is the fibrous shell of the grain. Oat and wheat bran are the fibrous content of the oat and wheat grain.
    • Oat and wheat bran have a slightly nutty flavor, but are a fine texture. They're easily hidden in foods and do not impart a significant flavor. This makes them a great way to bulk up the fiber of foods without your child knowing the wiser.[9]
    • Try adding wheat or oat bran to foods like: baked goods (like cookies, muffins or quick breads), pureed into smoothies, mixed into casseroles like lasagna or mac and cheese or into savory baked goods like meatballs or meatloaf.
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    Use flax and chia seeds more often. Other foods that you can sneak into your child's food are chia and flax seeds. This tiny little seeds contain a significant amount of fiber and can be easily hidden in foods.[10]
    • One ounce of chia seeds has about 10 g of fiber, while one ounce of flax seeds contain about 8 g of fiber.
    • Both chia and flax seeds can be ground into a flour like consistency. Like oat or wheat bran, it can be added to savory baked goods, sweet baked goods or added to your child's smoothie.
    • If your child enjoys nuts and seeds, you can try sprinkling chia or flax seeds onto salads, on top of yogurt or mixed into homemade granola.
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    Blend fruits and vegetables into baked goods and casseroles. If your child doesn't enjoy eating a serving of fruit or vegetables, you may want to consider pureeing or blending them into other foods. This can help increase their fiber from a natural and nutritious source.
    • Try hiding fruit in baked goods. You can use applesauce in place of fat in quick breads, muffins and cookies. You can also add dried or frozen fruit to these baked goods as well.
    • Vegetables are also quite easy to sneak into foods. Shredded or pureed vegetables can be added to quick breads, muffins, waffles or pancakes. You can add shredded zucchini to muffins or pureed pumpkin to a waffle mix.
    • You can also hide vegetables in savory foods. Consider pureeing vegetables into sauces, stews, soups, casseroles or meats (like meatloaf or burgers).
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    Pair high fiber foods together. Try to make the best out of the foods your child loves and their fiber content. Pairing two high fiber foods that your child enjoys, helps maximize how much fiber your child can get at one time.[11] For example, try:
    • Adding artichokes or broccoli to whole wheat pasta
    • Mixing pinto beans together with brown rice or quinoa.
    • Serving a whole grain waffle with peanut butter and sliced banana.
    • Topping yogurt with pears and chia seeds.
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    Consider a child's fiber supplement. Although eating foods is the best way to get in any nutrient, it may be a good back up to have your child take a fiber supplement daily.
    • Always talk to your pediatrician before giving your child any type of vitamin, mineral or fiber supplement. However, fiber supplements are generally considered safe for children.[12]
    • Only give your child one fiber supplement daily. There is no need to give them multiple fiber supplements.
    • Remember, a fiber supplement is only a back up to your child's diet. You should still aim to get all your child's fiber from their diet.

Part 3
Monitoring Your Child's Diet and Fiber Intake

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    Talk to your child's pediatrician. If you think you need to increase your child's fiber intake, start by talking to your pediatrician. They can help provide you with methods to increase your child's fiber intake safely.
    • Most pediatricians and health professionals recommend that children should consume fiber daily. To figure out how much fiber your child needs add 5 plus their age. This is the gram recommendation.
    • For example, if your child is 7, they will need to consume about 13 g of fiber daily.[13]
    • Talk to your pediatrician about your child's current intake and how you think additional fiber will benefit them.
    • Also ask if there are any precautions you and your child should take if you were to increase their fiber intake.
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    Monitor for any symptoms of excessive fiber intake. Although fiber is an essential part to a healthy diet, too much fiber can be a problem. Once you've increased your child's fiber intake, monitor for any adverse symptoms.
    • Too much fiber can cause problems. Your child may complain of a stomach ache, feel bloated or have changes in bowels.
    • Excessive fiber intake may also interfere with the absorption of some vitamins and minerals as well.[14]
    • To avoid any issues with excessive fiber (although rare), only have your child consume the recommended amount. There is nothing to gain by exceeding that value.
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    Make sure your child drinks an adequate amount of fluids. Whenever you increase your child's fiber intake, it's also important to increase their fluid intake. Monitor how much they're drinking during the day to ensure they're getting in enough fluids.
    • For extra fiber to work well, you need to stay well hydrated. Fiber absorbs water through the GI system which enables it to work well in your body.[15]
    • Most kids only need about 5-7 cups of fluids daily. Have them stick to sugar-free, hydrating beverages like water or flavored waters. They can also drink milk if they'd like.[16]


  • Talk to your child's pediatrician before making any significant changes to your child's diet.
  • Always incorporate fiber slowly into your child's diet. A quick increase can cause stomach upset, gas and bloating.
  • The best way to ensure that your child is eating enough fiber is to provide them with fruits, vegetables and 100% whole grains.

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Categories: Nutrition and Lifestyle Eating