Parents often ask me during well child visits, how many calories does my child need on a daily basis?

Children have different calorie needs depending on their age, gender and activity level. Children who are more physically active will have a higher calorie requirement compared to their more sedentary counterparts. Calorie requirements will differ for a 2 year old vs 10 year old. For girls, the calorie requirements are less compared to boys at any age.

During the 1st year of life calorie requirements are higher because of infant’s rapid growth. By the time a baby is 1 year old, they have tripled their birth weight.  After infancy, children usually would gain 4 pounds to 7 pounds per year and grow about 2 inches per year till middle childhood.

The rate of weight gain increases during puberty. Energy requirements are higher for adolescents because of their rapid growth during puberty.

A two to three year old child needs approximately 1000 calories per day.

For ages 4 years to 8 years, the calorie needs may vary from 1,200 to 2,000 calories per day depending on their gender and activity level.

For a child 9 years to 13 years, calorie needs range from 1,600 to 2,600 calories per day.

For adolescents ages 14 years to 18 years, the calorie needs range from 2,000 calories per day to 3,200 calories per day, again varying according to gender and activity level.

Shown below is the chart for calorie requirement for children, adolescents and adults from the US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services.

This blog provides general information and discussions about health and nutrition. The information and other content provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials is not a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog, website or in any linked materials.