Bien manger pour bien grandir : les besoins nutritionnels de l'enfant

Eat well to grow well: the nutritional needs of the child

Eat well to grow well. What nutrients are essential for child growth? Update on special needs

The child's nutritional needs

Growth and development involve specific nutritional needs : the resulting nutritional intake of the child varies depending on age, sex, and physical activity.

A large part of energy expenditure is entirely linked to the growth of the child.

Energy expenditure is made up of basic metabolism (the energy necessary for the body to function) added to that of physical activity (sporting activity, recreation, walking, computer and tablet time, etc.). )

We can identify three levels of physical activity: low, moderate, sustained

  • Low activity : we identify a weak activity for calm or sedentary children, who spend time in front of screens and who do not practice weekly sports.
  • Moderate activity : when the child spends his time playing recreational games and practices a regular sporting activity (approximately 1 hour per week), he is considered to have moderate activity.
  • Sustained activity : this level of activity is determined if the child practices a competitive sport with several sports training sessions per week (3 hours per week on average)

For young high-level athletes who practice a competitive or championship sport (More than 4 hours per week), it is recommended to consult a dietician to determine the child's specific nutritional needs. Indeed, the child's energy intake will vary depending on his training hours and his sports practice (tennis, swimming, football, etc.)

Child feeding: mistakes to avoid

Compared to an adult, the child needs a protein intake additional. However, too much protein can be harmful to his metabolism: protein is a large molecule and its filtration by the child's small kidneys can damage them if the intake is excessive.

Providing the necessary amount of energy to the child does not mean eating just anything.

Foods that are too fatty, too salty and especially too sweet can cause excessive weight gain, lack of attention at school, chronic fatigue and... cavities!

If your child is overweight, it is not necessary to eliminate starchy foods but to control them. Indeed, for harmonious growth, starchy foods must be present at every meal, breakfast included.

It is best to eliminate sugary drinks, sodas, candies, pancakes and pastries.

Energy needs depending on the child's age

Energy needs differ in children depending on age:

Age of child Girls Boys
2 years 1050 KCal/ day 1150 KCal/ day
4 years 1250 KCal/ day 1350 KCal/day
6 years 1600 KCal/day 1750 KCal/day
8 years 1850 KCal/day 2000 KCal/day
10 years 1980 KCal/day 2120 KCal/day
12 years 2250 KCal/day 2500 KCal/day
14 years old 1430 KCal/day 2900 KCal/day
16 years old 2500 KCal/day 3100 KCal/ day

Nutrition for optimal growth

For the child's growth to take place in good conditions, it is essential that the child has a healthy and balanced life. To do this, be careful to:

  • Reduce screen time
  • Have him practice an outdoor sport
  • Respect your sleep time
  • Balance your diet

The child's nutritional needs

For good growth, the child needs proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, but also vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.

The vitamins essential for growth are vitamins A, D, E, K.

The essential minerals are calcium, magnesium, phosphorus but also iron, zinc, copper, iodine and selenium.

What foods to favor?

Foods rich in the vitamins and minerals mentioned above and playing an important role in growth should be favored. We have the richest selections of these foods* in trace elements mentioned above:

Starches and pulses : sweet potatoes, bulgur, lentils, white beans, corn, chickpeas, potatoes, fresh pasta, Jerusalem artichoke, flour, chestnut flour

Vegetables : carrots, squash, spinach, lettuce, red peppers, endives, artichokes, asparagus, beets, watercress, lettuce, chard, Brussels sprouts, leeks, green beans, celery, quinoa, semolina, peas, tomatoes

Fish and meat : salmon, eggs, hake, cod, chicken, beef, scallops,

Fruits : apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, mango, orange, peach, persimmon, melon

Miscellaneous : butter, cheddar, yogurt, olive oil, walnut oil, sunflower oil, dates, almonds, hazelnuts, agave syrup, dark chocolate, milk, maple syrup, honey

A menu to boost child growth


  • Pancake with apricot coulis or maple syrup
  • Whole milk yogurt
  • Kiwi


  • Small corsair salad (salmon, mango, avocado, corn and lettuce)
  • Semolina with milk and cheddar
  • Chicken with carrots
  • Emmental
  • Banana mousse (*recipe)


  • Bread toast, butter
  • Dark chocolate or jam
  • Fresh fruit juice
  • Yogurt


  • Cream Of Watercress
  • Hake fillet with pepper coulis
  • Fresh tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes
  • Cheese spread
  • Nut bread
  • Vanilla flan

The recipe for banana mousse

Ingredients :

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 40 g of powdered sugar
  • 4 little Swiss
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 2 kiwis
  • A whipped egg white


  • Pour the Petits Suisses into the mixer bowl and place it in the top freezer for 20 minutes, it will be easier to whip them if they are cold.
  • Peel the bananas. Crush them in a bowl with the sugar and lemon juice.
  • Whip the little Swiss cheeses into whipped cream. Mix everything with the bananas.
  • Incorporate and delicately mix the whipped Swiss cheeses and the previously beaten egg white into the mixture, gently lifting everything with a spatula.
  • Pour this mousse into four individual glasses.
  • Before serving, peel and cut the kiwis into 12 thin slices, decorate each cut with three kiwi slices

Ideas to vary children's snacks

Taste cereal

In a large bowl, proceed in layers starting at the bottom. Cottage cheese, muesli, fruit cut into cubes, flax seeds

Taste the toast

  • Multi-grain bread with butter and honey with royal jelly
  • A seasonal smoothie
  • Two little Swiss

Gourmet snack

  • A fruit juice
  • A yogurt
  • Pancakes with jam and/or chocolate

Snack to go

  • An apple or a banana
  • A cereal bar (homemade) * recipe

Homemade cereal bars recipe

  • 50 g of brown sugar
  • 100 g of chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 100g of flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 200 g of oat flakes
  • 9 cl of sunflower oil
  • 12 cl of honey
  • 100 g walnuts/hazelnuts/almonds

In a salad bowl, mix the oatmeal, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, walnuts/hazelnuts/almonds and chocolate chips.

Then add the oil and honey and mix everything.

Fill bar-shaped molds (financiers or cereal bars) and pack the mixture. (Failing that, other molds of other shapes will do the trick!)

Bake at 180°C for 20 to 30 minutes. The cereal bars should be nicely browned.

* non-exhaustive list, The foods mentioned above are the richest in nutrients favorable to growth, this does not mean that the others must be eliminated

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