Kids’ bodies need fiber! It helps them stay regular 💩 and feel full longer. (Less begging for snacks? Yes please!) It can even prevent and relieve constipation.
And while the best way to get more of it into our kids’ diets is by serving up more fiber-rich foods like veggies and legumes, we’re talking about toddlers, here! Picky, white-bread-and-pasta-loving toddlers. So I made sure to fill this post with kid-friendly, fiber-rich food options that are realistic—even for parents of the pickiest eaters! And, in case those suggestions still don’t cut it, I’ve included the best fiber supplements for kids, too.
Let’s talk fiber!
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Note: this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra charge to you.
Fiber & What It Does In Our Bodies
Fiber is a unique type of carbohydrate, in that the body can’t digest it. As the indigestible part of many plant foods (yep, there’s an indigestible part!), it’s not broken down into glucose and used for energy like other carbohydrates. Instead, it serves other important functions in the body by supporting gut health and bacteria, keeping bowel movements regular, controlling blood sugar, and keeping us feeling full and satisfied.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps keep our blood sugar levels within the right ranges. Insoluble fiber can’t dissolve in water, so it moves in-tact through the gastrointestinal tract. It helps with bowel regularity and gut health, both preventing and relieving constipation along the way.
Fiber for Toddlers & Kids
Because most fiber-focused studies are done on adults, we know about a lot of ways fiber can keep us feeling our best—like lowering the risk of chronic diseases and combating constipation, to name a few! But the effects of fiber haven’t been studied as closely in children specifically. So while we can’t say for certain that fiber has the same or as many benefits for our little ones, based on all the positive effects it has on grown-ups, we do know it’s still important for them!
How Much Fiber Do Kids Need?
When we talk about how much of a vitamin or mineral a child or adult needs, we refer to ‘Dietary Reference Intakes’. For most vitamins and minerals, you’ll see an RDA – the Recommended Daily Allowance. But sometimes we don’t have enough information to set the RDA.
With fiber, that is the case. There is an established Adequate Intake.
AI: Adequate Intake
Think of this number as the recommended daily intake based on either studies or approximations of healthy populations.
Adequate Intake (AI) for Fiber in Kids
Here is about how much fiber your child will need to consume each day, from food, based on their age:
|Child’s Age||Daily Fiber Needs|
|1-3 Years||19 grams of fiber|
|4-8 Years||25 grams of fiber|
At a minimum, aim for your child’s age plus 10. So if they are 3 years old, a minimum of 3+10=13 grams of fiber from the diet per day. This may not be enough to keep your child’s bowels regular; each body is slightly different!
Fiber: How Much Is Too Much For Kids?
While there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule or number for how much fiber is too much for children, and too much fiber won’t cause a major illness or issue, there definitely is such a thing as too much. Because too much fiber in the diet—especially too much too fast—can cause digestive issues like gas and bloating. Plus, a diet very high in fiber may not be adequate in overall calories, or nutrient diversity.
To help your little one avoid the 💩-y downsides of a high-fiber diet, try to spread fiber servings out through your child’s day, giving them a little bit each time they eat instead of one super high-fiber meal. And, if your child isn’t used to a higher-fiber diet, add in more fiber slowly, over the course of a few weeks. This will give their body a chance to adapt!
What To Do If Your Child Doesn’t Get Enough Fiber
Some parents have to worry about their kids getting too much fiber—typically the parents of toddlers who LOVE fruit and can’t keep enough in the house! But I’d say most end up on the other side of the spectrum: worried their kid isn’t eating enough! And that makes sense.
Fiber is one of the trickier foods for kids to get enough of, because it’s found in the largest quantities in foods like whole grains, legumes, fruit, and veggies. And these are foods lots of children—especially picky eaters—don’t traditionally love. As a result, many kids don’t get enough fiber in their days.
If you’re worried your child isn’t getting enough fiber, pay attention to their digestion. (Isn’t parenting so glam?) Low fiber is often a culprit of constipation in kiddos. So if your child is often or regularly constipated, you might need to focus on getting more fiber into their days. (But check in with the pediatrician, too! Diet adjustments alone won’t always relieve constipation.)
Toddler-Friendly, High-Fiber Foods
Fiber is most often found in plant foods, like fruits and veggies, as well as whole grains and legumes. So while you can consider a fiber supplement (more on this below), I always recommend trying to get your child to get whole food instead. At least as a first step!
And if you’re like, “Plants? Veggies? Legumes?! Kacie, other than a few raspberries, my kid won’t eat ANY of that!” It’s okay, I’ve got you! This list was put together with picky littles in mind. All the fiber-rich foods I’m recommending are likely to be toddler-friendly.
Kid-Friendly Fiber Ideas
- Brown Rice (3.5 grams per 1 cup)
- Beans (Navy and white beans have the most fiber, but all beans are great!)
- Skin-On Baked Potatoes (4 grams per medium potato)
- Avocado (3 grams per ¼ avocado)
- Blueberries (4 grams per ½ cup)
- High-Fiber Pouches (Look for at least 2 grams per pouch. I like Gogo Squeez Applesauce or Once Upon A Farm Smoothies!)
For a list of foods to choose and foods to avoid when looking to increase fiber: Foods to Help with Constipation in Toddlers
Tips For Feeding Fiber
Getting your child to eat more fiber can be tricky. These tips might help!
- Start small: look for about 3 grams of fiber per serving of any given food.
- Got a fruit lover? (Or tolerate-r?) Leave the skin on when you serve fruit! Fiber content is highest in the skins.
- Limit fruit juices. They do contain vitamins and minerals, but they lack the fiber that whole fruits have. The real fruit is better when it’s available! Hint: smoothies for the win!
When To Supplement Fiber
Adding fiber to your child’s diet by serving up more whole, fiber-rich foods that they actually eat is the goal. If your child regularly eats fruits and veggies (‘regularly’ meaning multiple times per day) and doesn’t experience regular constipation, you don’t need to worry about counting out the grams of fiber they eat or supplementing their diet with more fiber.
BUT I’ll be the first to own that ‘the goal’ is often far from reality! Especially if you’re feeding a picky eater. So there are definitely times when a fiber supplement makes sense for kids.
Consider A Fiber Supplement If…
- Your child is a picky eater and struggles with fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts.
- Your child experiences constipation, it might be beneficial
Just remember to talk to your child’s pediatrician first! Mention any GI distress or constipation to rule out other causes, and ask if they agree that a fiber supplement could make them feel better by helping them reach their daily fiber goals.
Best Fiber Supplements For Kids With Constipation
The first line of defense against a low-fiber diet is always going to be adding more whole, fiber-rich foods to your child’s diet. But if that’s not working, and you and your child’s doctor agree that a supplement is needed, they can be a great option.
Fiber supplements are not laxatives—they won’t have that effect on your child!—they’re just going to gently encourage bowel motility and regularity. So regardless of whether you go with fiber chews, gummies, a fiber powder, or a liquid supplement, you can feel good about your choice!
Here are a few of the fiber supplements for kids that I’d personally recommend (note, this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.):
Best Fiber Gummies For Kids With Constipation
Heads up! Most of these supplements are recommended for children ages four and up. Be sure to read each label carefully before offering them to your child.
This option uses polydextrose as the source of fiber, with 3 grams of fiber in each serving of 2 gummies.
These gummies use chicory root fiber. There’s no added sugar, but kids do seem to love the taste. And I like that each serving of 2 gummies has 3 grams of fiber—so not too much or too little for them!
Nature Made also uses chicory root fiber, plus natural colors and flavors. Each serving of 2 gummies has 4 grams of fiber. This is a great option if you need a gluten-free fiber supplement!
Best Fiber Powder for Toddlers & Kids
These little powder packets are made from wheat dextrin. Mix them into smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt, and feel really good knowing each one contains 3.5 grams of fiber!
Metamucil offers Fiber Thins, a cookie-like supplement that comes in a chocolate flavor (among others!). A serving of two thins gives your little one 3.5 grams of fiber from psyllium powder.
Best Liquid Fiber Supplements for Toddlers & Kids
HyFiber is my personal favorite option for supplementing! There are 6 grams of fiber from polydextrose in each one-tablespoon serving, which makes it really easy to give them the fiber they need. It also contains prebiotics that help support the good bacteria (aka probiotics) in your child’s gut.
Got Tummy Troubles? Get Probiotics!
If your toddler or preschooler is dealing with constipation or other conditions like stomach bugs, certain types of diarrhea—even frequent coughs and runny noses!—probiotics for kids might help!
Help Your Kids Get Sick Less Often With My Free Probiotics Guide
Probiotics can help your kids get sick less. Do you need to know any more than that? Well, yes, you do! Download my free, research-backed guide to probiotics to learn how probiotics work and how to pick a kid-safe one that helps them feel their best.