Why fibre is important for your growing child

Are you curious to know just how much fibre your child really needs in their diet? We talk about the recommended fibre intake for children.

 Apples are the richest source of pectin – a kind of soluble fibre.

You probably already know that fibre is an important component of your child’s diet. But did you know it is especially well known for its beneficial action on the function of the colon, or what the recommended intake for children is per day?

Water-soluble versus non-soluble 

Fibre can be divided into two groups, as follows:

1. Water-soluble 

This type of fibre is digested by the digestive enzymes in the small intestine and it performs different functions from non-soluble fibre in the body. Water-soluble fibre is the better fibre to treat constipation in children.

2. Non-soluble

This type of fibre is not digested in the small intestine and remains largely unchanged. It increases the volume of the intestine and accelerates the rate at which the contents of the intestines, move, especially in the colon. Overuse of non-soluble fibre in children or having too little water with the fibre, may increase the symptoms of constipation.

Sources of fibre

  • Seeds of legumes: Legumes contain large quantities of both types of fibre. Sugar beans, butter beans, white beans, kidney beans, and other boiled dried beans have a high soluble and non-soluble fibre content.
  • Oats: Rolled oats and oat bran are especially rich in soluble fibre.
  • Fruit and vegetables: Pectin is the kind of soluble fibre that is mainly found in ripe fruit and vegetables. Ripe fruit contains more pectin than unripe fruit – apples are the richest source of pectin.
  • Whole wheat, high-fibre bran, and the skin of fruit and vegetables are examples of insoluble fibre.

How much does my child need?

It is recommended that children ages one to three get at least 19 grams of fibre a day, and children ages four to eight get 25 grams. A three-year-old child would require 8g of fibre per day, and this can be made up of, for example, 20g oats, ½ an apple, a ¼ cup of mixed veggies, and one small banana.

The fibre content in fruit

TypeServing Fibre content (g)
 Fig 1 large 9
 Orange 1 medium 6
 Grapefruit 1/2 medium 6
 Apple 1 medium 5
 Fruit salad (melon, banana, orange) 3/4 cup 4.8
 Raisins 1/4 cup 3.1
 Pear 1 medium 3
 Strawberries 1 cup 3
 Banana 1 medium 3
 Peach 1 medium 3
 Fruit juice 200ml 0.3

The fibre content in vegetables

 Type Serving Fibre content (g)
 Broccoli 1/2 cup 5
 Peas 1/2 cup 4.5
 Butternut 1/2 cup 4
 Potato 1 medium 3.6
 Sweet potato 1/2 cup 4.4
 Green beans 1/2 cup 3
 Carrots 1/2 cup 2.4
 Spinach 1/2 cup 2.4
 Cabbage 1 cup 2