Advertisement

How often should children eat each day?

Jodie Shield
Healthcare Specialist

Most children and teens need to eat every three to four hours throughout the day. This translates into the following:

  • Younger kids need to eat three meals and at least two snacks a day.
  • Older kids need to eat three meals and at least one snack a day (they may need two snacks if they’re going through a growth spurt or if they are very physically active).
Parents and caregivers need to offer planned meals and snacks consistently throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to offer snacks a few hours after one meal ends and about one to two hours before the next meal begins. Postponing snacks until a few hours after a meal helps prevent kids from refusing food at a meal and then begging for more food as a “snack” just after the meal ends. On the other hand, putting a stop to snacking immediately before meals encourages a healthy appetite at mealtimes. Above all, remember the bottom line: if snacks are planned, coordinated with meals, and served consistently at regularly scheduled times, kids are more likely to be a healthy weight.
Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens

More About this Book

Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens

In a world of fast food, supersized sodas, and televised temptations, this guide shows how to buck the obesity trend currently in the national spotlight—and have fun doing it. Using a family...

Continue Learning about Healthy Eating For Children & Teens

Making Nutrition Fun Helps Kids Change
Making Nutrition Fun Helps Kids Change
The comic Steven Wright once said his mom made only two dishes for dinner -- take it or leave it. That’s the same menu choices offered by researchers ...
Read More
Reality Bites in Kids’ Fast Food Meals
Reality Bites in Kids’ Fast Food Meals
When Eddie (John C. Reilly) from the animated hit film Sing croons, “Can I get a Happy Meal with big nuggets?” and Johnny (Taron Egerton) the gorilla ...
Read More
How healthy are lunches served at school cafeterias?
HealthyWomenHealthyWomen
School cafeterias are making strides toward serving healthier lunches. Federal nutrition standards r...
More Answers
How common are unhealthy eating habits in children?
Dr. Rovenia Brock, PhDDr. Rovenia Brock, PhD
More than 84% of children consume too much total fat, and more than 91% consume too much saturat...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.