Toddler foods with fiber, those to offer and those to avoid!

Foods containing fiber help children poop regularly, avoiding both constipation and diarrhoea and fibre is even good for their long term health and immunity.

But young children can be fussy with foods so in this blog I’ll give you my best suggestions for incorporating high fibre foods into their diet and theres a section at the end on supplements if you find they’re needed.

A toddler sitting on the potty after eating fibre foods

Importance of fibre

Fiber is a really important nutrient for toddlers and yet its one they often don’t get enough of, and neither do we as adults! It promotes gut health by supporting healthy digestion and encouraging the growth of beneficial gut bacteria (probiotics). 

And for adults a diet rich in fiber can also help reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping cholesterol levels normal. 

Fibre also helps stabilise blood sugar levels, ensuring that both toddlers and grown up’s have a steady supply of energy throughout the day. 

While fiber rich foods are often associated with preventing constipation, they can also help with toddler diarrhoea. 

Soluble fibre, found in foods like oats, beans and certain fruits, absorb excess water in the intestines, adding bulk to runny poo. 

Infographic showing how much fiber children need each day.

How much fibre should children have

The recommended daily intake of fibre for toddlers aged between 2 to 5 years is 15 grams of fiber per day. As they grow, their fiber needs increase. 

Children between 6 to 11 years should aim for 20 grams, while those aged 12 to 16 years need about 25 grams daily. 

By the time they reach 17 and above, the recommended fibre intake aligns with adult needs, which is 30 grams per day.

If you think this sounds like a lot, you’re right. Most of us consume around half of what we need, so it’s good to make a conscious effort to increase the fibre in our diets, however when you do you should also increase fluids. 

Fibre absorbs water, which makes poo softer, bulkier and easier to pass. Without adequate fluid, there’s a risk of impaction, where stools become very hard and difficult to pass. 

A toddler with a stomach ache after eating too much fiber

What happens if a child has too much fiber?

Unfortunately, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. An excessive intake of fibre rich food can lead to:

Reduced Appetite: 

It is thought (although not proven) that when eaten in large amounts, fibre can suppress appetite, which may not be ideal in children who are often fussy eaters anyway. This has the potential to limit their nutrient intake from foods. 

Inhibits absorption of nutrients: 

Some types of fiber, particularly those found in whole grains and some vegetables, can bind with nutritious minerals like iron and reduce their absorption

Gastrointestinal Side Effects: 

Consuming too many fiber rich foods can also cause bloating, gas or wind leading to tummy pain and cramping, and even diarrhoea. 

Different sources of toddler foods with fiber in glass jars

What are the different types of fibre?

Traditionally, dietary fibre was categorised into two main types: soluble and insoluble. Instead, fiber is now classified based on its fermentability and the effects it has in the body.

Fermentable Fibre: 

This type of fibre is broken down (or fermented) by bacteria in the large intestine, producing short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are beneficial for gut health and are linked to a positive effect on the immune system. Examples include inulin and resistant starch.

Bulking Fibre: 

This type of fibre adds bulk to the poo and can help prevent constipation. Examples include cellulose and some hemicelluloses. Bran fibre is a good example. I like to describe this type of fibre as a ‘broom’ that sweeps through the gut to push out the poo.

Viscous Fibre:

This type of fibre can form a gel in the stomach when it comes into contact with water. It’s this type of fibre that can help lower blood cholesterol and stabilise blood sugar levels. Examples include beta-glucans and pectins.

Resistant Starch:

Not traditionally categorised as fibre, but resistant starch functions in a similar way in the gut. It resists digestion in the small intestine and is fermented in the large intestine, producing more of those beneficial short-chain fatty acids.

Bran is not a suitable fiber food for toddlers

Bulking (bran) fibre is not ideal for toddlers

Bran fibre, the bulking type for fibre that acs like a broom, is not ideal for young children. While it’s helpful for adults in promoting regular bowel movements, it’s not great for toddlers. Here’s why:

High Phytate Content: 

Bran contains phytates which bind to essential minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc, reducing their absorption. This can be a problem in young childhood when these minerals are needed for growth and development.

Digestive Sensitivity: 

Toddlers have delicate digestive systems. The roughage provided by bran can sometimes be quite harsh, leading to digestive discomfort, gas, excessive wind and even diarrhoea.

Nutrient Displacement: 

Due to it’s bulk, bran can fill up a toddler’s small stomach quickly, potentially making them too full to eat well and therefore displacing other nutrient-dense foods.

Infographic with suggestions of toddler foods with fiber

Best High-Fiber Foods for Toddlers

Here is a list of fibre rich foods suitable for toddlers and young children. I’ve listed the amount of fibre in descending order per 100g with the highest at the top. I’ve also given you what a typical toddler portion might be:

FoodFibre content per 100gToddler portion
Chia Seeds34g1 teaspoon (5g, approx. 1.7g of fiber)
Popcorn14.5gA small bowl (10g, approx. 1.45g of fiber)
Almonds/Almond Butter12.5gA tablespoon of almond butter (approx. 1.9g of fiber)
Wholemeal Flour/Breads10.7gOne slice of wholemeal bread (approx. 2.5g of fiber)
Spelt10.7gA small serving (30g, approx. 3.2g of fiber)
Oats Porridge10gA small bowl (30g of dry oats, approx. 3g of fiber)
Apricots7.3g2-3 pieces (approx. 2-3g of fiber)
Prunes7.1g2-3 pieces (approx. 2-3g of fiber)
Dates7g2-3 pieces (approx. 2-3g of fiber)
Lentils7.9gA small bowl (50g, approx. 3.9g of fiber)
Chickpeas7.6gA small bowl (50g, approx. 3.8g of fiber)
Black Beans8.7gA small bowl (50g, approx. 4.3g of fiber)
Sunflower Seeds8.6gA small serving (10g, approx. 0.86g of fiber)
Wholewheat Pasta5gA small serving (40g, approx. 2g of fiber)
Artichokes5.4gOne medium artichoke heart (approx. 4g of fiber)
Peas5.1gA small bowl (50g, approx. 2.5g of fiber)
Berries (Raspberries)6.5gA small handful (50g, approx. 3.25g of fiber)
Avocado6.7gHalf a small avocado (approx. 5g of fiber)
Oatcakes7g1-2 oatcakes (20g, approx. 1.4g of fiber)
Quinoa2.8gA small bowl (50g, approx. 1.4g of fiber)
Carrots2.8gOne medium carrot (approx. 2.1g of fiber)
Broccoli2.6g5-6 florets (approx. 1.3g of fiber)
Jacket Potatoes (with skin)2.2gHalf a small jacket potato (approx. 1.5g of fiber)
Apples (with skin)2.4gOne small apple (approx. 3.6g of fiber)
Brown Rice3.5gA small serving (50g, approx. 1.75g of fiber)
Pears (with skin)3.1gHalf a medium pear (approx. 2.4g of fiber)
Crackers2-5g3-4 crackers (15g, approx. 0.3-0.75g of fiber)
Mango1.6gOne medium slice (approx. 0.8g of fiber)
Plums (with skin)1.4gOne medium plum (approx. 1g of fiber)

In addition there are certain child friendly breakfast cereals that I like which offer a great source of fibre:

Weetabix:

  • Two Weetabix biscuits provide around 3.8g of fibre.

Oatibix:

  • Two Oatibix biscuits offer around 3.6g of fibre.

Shredded Wheat:

  • Two biscuits contain approximately 4.5g of fibre.
Wholemeal pasta as a toddler food with fiber

Tips for introducing fiber rich foods to toddlers

When shopping it’s always worth checking the nutritional information on packaging to see the fibre content as surprisingly this varies from one brand to the next.

Foods considered high in fibre have 6g or more per 100g and foods that are considered a source of fibre contain 3g or more per 100g.

Here are my top tips:

  • Choose whole grains over their white refined counterparts. E.G. brown rice over white or wholewheat pasta instead of white. 
  • Choose whole fruits rather than fruit juices, purees or smoothies. These often have the fibre removed.
  • Offer fruits AND vegetables at every meal including breakfast (often forgotten on the veg front!)
  • Add salad to sandwiches e.g lettuce, tomato, or avocado.
  • Stir canned beans into soups or casseroles.
  • Bake with half while, half wholemeal flour instead of the traditional plain white flours.
  • Choose high fibre snacks like microwave popcorn or whole-grain crackers
  • Sprinkle ground nuts or 100% nut butters on porridge or in yoghurt.
A toddler drinking water after eating fiber

Tips for increasing fluids for toddlers who are reluctant drinkers

  1. Incorporate Fluid-Rich Foods: 

Offer foods that have high water content. This can include dishes with sauces, gravies, soups, jellies, yoghurts, ice creams and lollies. Fruit and veggies contain fluids too.

  1. Add Flavour: 

Whilst the recommendation is for toddlers to have the majority of their drinks as water or milk, if you can’t get them to drink and are concerned about their health, it’s totally okay to add a splash of natural fruit juice or sugar free squash for flavour if it encourages drinking. 

  1. Make Drinking Fun: 

Use colourful cups or straws, and let them choose their drinking vessel. Sometimes, the novelty of a fun beaker or a curly straw can encourage more frequent sips.

  1. Lead by Example: 

Young children often mimic the actions of those around them. If they see you drinking water regularly, they’ll be more inclined to do the same.

Foods lined up by food group

How to put together high fiber snacks

When putting together snacks for children, keep portion sizes small but offer a variety of foods aiming to include at least two food groups, if not three. 

As a reminder the food groups are:  

Fruit and Vegetables:

These are packed with fiber and essential vitamins but fresh or frozen options are best. Although dried fruits are a good source of fiber, they are also highly concentrated in natural sugar, so are best avoided at snacktime when it’s going to be a while before teeth brushing. 

Starchy Carbohydrates

These are the energy providers. Choose whole grain bread, crackers, oatcakes, and cereals rather than the white versions where much of the fibre has been removed.

Protein Foods

Protein foods that contain fibre include nut butters (ensure they’re 100% nuts), beans, and pulses think hummus and bean dips. Meat and fish are also protein foods but these don’t contain any fibre.

Dairy Foods

Dairy foods don’t contain fibre either but milk, yoghurt and fromage frais are sources of fluid and of course along with cheese provide calcium, vital for growing bones.

Healthy Fats and Oils

Again, often not a fibre provider but they need a mention for completeness. Healthy fats and oils are essential for giving our children energy to play and grow and also support brain development and the absorption of some vitamins.

Opt for healthy sources like oily fish, avocado (which does contain fibre) and olive-based spreads or olive oil.

Crackers and veggies as a toddler food with fiber

6 high fibre snacks for kids

  • Hummus & Dippers:
    • Fibre content: Hummus (2.8g per 100g), Carrots (2.8g per 100g), Wholegrain breadsticks (7g per 100g).
    • Creamy hummus paired with crunchy carrots and wholegrain breadsticks. And most children love dipping!
  • Nut Butter Banana Wraps:
    • Fibre content: Wholemeal wrap (6.5g per 100g), Almond butter (12.5g per 100g), Banana (2.6g per 100g).
    • Spread almond butter on a wholemeal wrap, place a banana in the centre, roll it up, and slice into bite-sized pieces. 
  • Chia Pudding:
    • Fibre content: Chia seeds (34g per 100g).
    • Soak chia seeds in milk overnight. Top with fresh fruit puree for a fiber-rich, creamy snack.
  • Veggie and Cheese Quesadilla:
    • Fibre content: Wholewheat tortilla (around 6.8g per 100g), Cooked veggies (broccoli, spinach, etc., around 2.6g per 100g).
    • Fill half wholewheat tortilla with finely chopped veggies and a sprinkle of cheese. Fold in half to make a semi circle and heat in a frying pan until the cheese melts. 
  • Lentil and Veggie Soup:
    • Fibre content: Lentils (7.9g per 100g), Veggies (around 2.6g per 100g).
    • Description: A warm bowl of lentil soup packed with veggies like carrots, tomatoes, and spinach. Also good for fluid!
  • Oat and Berry Muffins:
    • Fibre content: Oats (10.6g per 100g), Berries (around 6.5g per 100g).
    • Description: Homemade muffins made with whole grain oats and packed with berries. These muffins are a sweet food that offers the fiber benefits of oats and the antioxidant-rich berries.

For more ideas on healthy snacks for toddlers, check out this blog.

A family eating happily together

What to do if your child won’t eat any high fiber foods

Many children are picky eaters so, here are a few strategies you can try:

1. Making Mealtimes Pleasant: 

Create a positive and fun atmosphere at the table to make new foods less intimidating. This encourages children to stay at the table for longer and (hopefully) enjoy the experience.

2. Positive Reinforcement: 

Celebrate your child’s interactions with new foods, even small ones. If they pick up a new fibre rich food offer them a smile. Simple gestures can give them confidence to do it again.

3. Repeated Exposure to New Foods: 

Consistently offer unfamiliar foods to your child. Over time, familiarity can lead to acceptance.

4. Family Style Serving: 

Place each part of the meal in the centre of the table, and encourage your child to serve themselves. This approach reduces pressure on them, gets them interacting with food and fosters a sense of independence.

5. Learning Plate: 

Introduce a side plate dedicated to less-preferred foods, as this allows children to explore these foods without the immediate pressure to eat them.

6. Involve Your Child in Food Choices: 

Ask your child for their favourite dishes and add them to your family meal plan and, when the time comes invite them to help with the preparation too. This involvement gives them a sense of ownership and involvement.

7. Follow an Appetite Schedule: 

Set regular intervals between meals and snacks. A routine for eating helps children better recognise their hunger cues and appetite signals which leads to them developing healthy eating habits.

8. Treat all Foods Equally: 

Avoid labelling certain foods, especially sweets, as ‘special’ or ‘treats’. When all foods have equal value it stops them being highly desirable.

9. Make Food Fun: 

Children really do ‘eat with their eyes’ in fact all of their senses are involved, so make meals look nice, smell appetising, taste delicious. Think of fun shapes or colourful arrangements which can entice children to try new dishes.

10. Boost Activity Levels to Boost Appetite: 

Encourage physical activity before meals. Active play naturally increases hunger, making children more receptive to trying new foods.

If you’ve tried multiple strategies with your fussy eater and still face challenges, it might be time to seek expert advice. We’d be delighted to support you inside Fussy Eating Fixed!

Colourful smoothies with fiber for toddlers

How to boost the fiber content of meals

With a little creativity and some simple swaps, you can easily boost the fiber content of your child’s favourite dishes. Here’s how:

Smoothie boost:

Smoothies are often a child-friendly option. Up the fibre content by adding nuts, seeds, and even a handful of spinach to make a ‘Monster Smoothie’. Smoothies are best had at mealtimes so the natural sugars are less damaging to little teeth. 

Avocado as a butter substitute:

Did you know that avocado can be used as a creamy and nutritious alternative to butter in baked goods? Try using mashed avocado in recipes for cookies, muffins, or even brownies.

Lentil-Infused bolognese:

When making a classic bolognese sauce, switch half the beef for lentils. Lentils are a fantastic source of fibre and protein and they disappear into the sauce.

Add beans and pulses in cooked dishes:

Cooked dishes can be made healthier with the addition of beans and pulses you can add them to dishes such as casseroles, lasagna or shepherd’s pie.

Bean dips such as hummus:

Beans can be blended up into delicious dips. Did you know hummus is made from blended chickpeas? Serve with whole grain crackers and veggie sticks for even more fibre.

Balanced baking:

When baking, use a mix of half white and half wholemeal flour. This simple swap can significantly increase the fibre content of baked goods like pancakes, waffles, muffins, and banana bread.

Yoghurt toppers:

Upgrade your toddlers yoghurt by adding fiber-rich toppings like chia seeds, ground flax seeds and some berries or chopped fruit. 

A bowl of cornflakes

Food low in fiber to swap out

Here’s a list of common low-fibre foods that children often eat and some suggestions for fiber-rich alternatives for toddlers:

White Bread, Pasta, Rice:

Swap For: Whole grain or wholemeal bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown or wild rice and by doing this you’ll also give them a broader range of other nutrients including iron and zinc. 

Biscuits, Cookies, Cakes, Scones:

Swap For: Baked goods not only made with wholemeal flour but look for those with additions like oats, fruit, ground nuts or seeds.

Certain Breakfast Cereals:

Swap For: Instead of refined cereals like Rice Krispies or Cornflakes, look for those made with the whole of the grain. You’re looking for whole wheat, oats, or bran as the first ingredient on the label. 

A selection of medicine bottles

Fiber supplements for kids

Food swaps are the ideal approach to increasing fibre, but when it comes to fussy eaters, that might not be so easy and so you might want to consider a fibre supplement. 

First of all please be assured that they won’t work in the same way as laxatives, no urgent rushing to find a loo, rather they subtly encourage a healthy digestive system and regular pooing.

If your child has constipation, they can be really helpful. If they have diarrhoea (and assuming your GP has ruled out other causes) they can be helpful too.

It’s worth noting that most of these supplements suggest they’re suitable for ages 4 and above.

Gummies

  • BeLive Gummies: Sugar free Gummies where the fibre comes from chicory root and inulin. These provide 1.4 grams of fiber in a 2 gummy serving. 
  • Jolly Jelly: These contain sugar where the fibre comes from chicory root and inulin. These provide 1.5 grams of fiber in a 1 gummy serving.

Powders:

  • Culturelle Kids Probiotic + Fiber: These are individual powder packets where the fibre is derived from wheat fruits and vegetables. Powder can be mixed into foods like smoothies, yoghurt or porridge. Each packet contains 3.5 grams of fiber.
  • Optifibre: This powder supplement is suitable from 3 years of age. It’s made from guar gum and can be stirred into liquid foods or made into a drink. 1 5g scoop gives a whopping 4.3g fibre!
A fiber bar resting on it's packet

Can toddlers eat fiber bars?

Yes, toddlers can eat fiber bars and other fibre containing snacks, choose ones that are appropriate for their age and do consider whether these are just fibre enriched cakes or sweets!  You might want to consider:

  • Sugar Content: Many fiber bars contain high levels of sugar so try to look for options with lower sugar content.
  • Texture and Size: Choose those that have a soft texture to minimise the risk of choking. Also, cut the bars into small, manageable pieces if you have a young toddler.
  • Nutritional Value: Ensure that the fiber bars are rich in essential nutrients. It’s a good idea to opt for bars that contain whole grains, nuts and seeds, but make sure they are ground to a suitable texture for a toddler.
  • Artificial Additives: Avoid fiber bars that contain artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives because they are not good for toddlers.
  • Allergens: Be cautious of potential allergens, especially if your child has known food allergies. Common allergens in fiber bars can include nuts, soy, and dairy.
The word 'snack' constructed out of crackers

Fibre bars and snacks suitable for children

Freddies farm: A sugar free, 100% plant based fruit and veg snack that even provides one of their 5 a day! The fibre comes from the fruits and vegetables used. Up to 1.7g fibre per snack.

Gusto Snacks: Made from wonky fruit with a twist! These vegetarian snacks contain 2.8g fibre per 20g pack!

Fibre One bars: Essentially cakes in disguise but these provide a whopping 6.1g fibre per bar. The fibre comes from chicory root extract but these bars are highly processed and also contain sugar alcohols which can give you the runs! Probably not my first choice for children.

RX Bars: made from whole ingredients only, each bar contains 5g fibre and are gluten, and dairy free. Aimed at health conscious adults but there’s nothing in there that children can’t have.

Sarah-Almond-Bushell-MPhil-BSc-Hons-RD-MBDA-Registered-Dietitian-Childrens-Nutritionist

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meet Sarah

I’m Sarah, a Registered Dietitian, Children’s Nutritionist and mummy from East Sussex. My blog is to guide & inspire you with information about weaning, nutrition, food and toddler feeding. Learn more about me here.

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