High Fibre Foods For Toddlers

  • Saba Amber BSc, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Introduction to toddler nutrition

The role of fibre in toddler nutrition

Fibre is a naturally occurring carbohydrate found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans, but it may also be added to foods where it is not usually found so to increase the amount of fibre consumed. Fibre, also known as ‘roughage’, plays an important role in the digestion of food. There are a number of different types of fibre, which all play a different role in the body; some are involved in how quickly food moves through the large intestine, some prevent constipation, and some can influence the type and number of bacteria in our intestines, and others can influence our blood cholesterol levels. According to the British Nutrition Foundation and research by Public Health England, both adults and children in the UK are eating less than the daily recommended amount of dietary fibre.

The significance of a balanced diet during toddlerhood

A healthy, balanced diet is important for many reasons, and the basis of good nutritional habits starts in childhood. There are some links between an ideal intake of fibre and reduced risk factors for some common diseases. Research among children has demonstrated a link between a higher intake of fibre and a reduced cardiometabolic risk1 and a beneficial association between dietary fibre intake and lower risk for obesity.2 Since pediatric obesity often persists into adulthood, preventing obesity is a key strategy for lowering future metabolic syndrome rates.3 For this reason, it is important to establish a good diet during toddlerhood.

Recommended daily fibre intake for toddlers

General guidelines based on age and gender

The amount of fibre required on a daily basis depends on the age and gender of the child, but typically, children between the ages of one and three years of age require around 19 grams of fibre per day. However, requirement is an estimate and it is advisable to consult a specialist if you have concerns over your child’s fibre requirements or intake. 

Adjustments for individual needs or dietary restrictions

In some cases, it may be difficult to increase the amount of fibre in a child’s diet, especially with fussy eaters or those with allergies. In the case of allergies, it is best to consult a specialist who can recommend the best alternatives to fulfil the daily fibre requirements while being safe to consume.

Common high-fibre foods for toddlers

Fibre can be either soluble or insoluble. Neither type is digested by the body and instead passes straight through the digestive system and out of the body. Soluble fibre, which is generally found in fruits and vegetables, easily dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance when water is added to it, which can help soften stools. By comparison, insoluble fibre is more commonly found in whole grains and does not dissolve in water but can help trap water to increase stool bulk.


Fruit is an excellent source of fibre as long as it is served correctly since a lot of the fibre in fruit is stored in the peel, which can be lost when the fruit is peeled before serving. For example, peeling an apple can remove most of the fibre content; instead, try slicing apples and serving them with the peel still on. The same goes for pears. In the case of picky eaters, try serving the apple slices with peanut butter to increase the fibre content and provide a bit more of an exciting snack. Fruit should also be served with adult supervision to reduce the risk of choking. Pay attention to harder and crunchy fruit in relation to choking risk. Other fruit with a high fibre content include:

  • Avocado
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Banana
  • Oranges
  • Dried dates
  • Prunes
  • Melon


Vegetables are another great source of fibre, but similarly to fruit, a lot of the fibre content is lost when the vegetable is peeled before cooking. An example of this would be potatoes. Instead of peeling potatoes or mashing them, try serving a jacket potato with the skin on or a baked potato as a side. Toddlers may be wary of unfamiliar vegetables, and picky eaters may not like to eat many vegetables. In these situations, you could try adding vegetables to dishes like bolognese, curries or chilli. If that does not work, try blending vegetables into a soup.

Vegetables that are high in fibre include: 

  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Broad beans
  • Butter beans
  • Corn on the cob
  • Spinach
  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potato


Wholegrains can be a great source of fibre, especially since they can be easily added to meals. This includes wholegrain bread, wholegrain pasta, brown rice, lentils, and other types of beans.

Creative ways to incorporate fibre

Smoothies and fruit purées

With picky eaters, the problem may lie in the texture of the food rather than the taste. If that is the case, then different fruits may be blended together to make a smoothie with the addition of a juice (orange or apple). Also, fruit purées could be frozen to make ice pops and served as a summer snack as an alternative to sugary ice cream.

Fibre-rich snacks

By swapping out some snacks, you can easily increase the amount of dietary fibre consumed. Popcorn is high in fibre and is a healthier alternative to potato crisps. Wholegrain crackers are a great alternative to snacks like cream crackers. Dry fruit and nuts can also be a great snack. Although nuts can be a choking hazard, take care when serving them to children and supervise them while eating.

Adding fibre to favourite meals

If toddlers are already familiar with and enjoy certain meals, then it is possible to further increase the amount of fibre in those meals. For example, try switching from white rice to brown rice. Or try wholegrain pasta. You could also add blended vegetables to the pasta sauce. Another way to add fibre is to serve a portion of vegetables or lentils as a side dish.

Balancing fibre with other nutrients

While fibre is extremely important to a toddler’s diet, care must be taken to include an adequate amount of other nutrients. Some nutrients to look out for include iron, vitamins, and proteins, amongst others. All nutrients play an important role in the body and each child may require a different amount of each. It is best to consult with a professional when making changes to a toddler’s diet.

Potential challenges and considerations

Food allergies and intolerances

Food allergies or food intolerances may not manifest straight away, and instead may develop over time so care must be taken with common allergens (such as nuts, soya, mushrooms, and some fruits and vegetables). In more extreme cases, an individual might be allergic to an entire food group rather than an individual item. When this is the case, consult a nutritionist or specialist to create a balanced meal plan in order to avoid deficiencies.

Dealing with picky eaters and food preferences

There may be different underlying causes for picky eating. This may include a sensory issue towards certain food textures rather than taste. This can be dealt with by blending foods into a purée and pouring them into a sauce or soup. Try to vary the foods served at mealtimes to encourage picky eaters to try new items.

Preventing choking hazards

Proper food size and texture for toddlers

Generally, try to offer smaller food sizes to reduce the choking risk to young children. Slice fruits like apples or pears to make it easier for them to eat, but remember to keep the skin on. Encourage toddlers to explore new food textures, but take care with any unfamiliar foods to ensure that they do not choke. Toddlers may enjoy having blended nuts as butter instead of whole nuts, which also helps to prevent choking.

Monitoring toddlers’ fibre intake

Keeping track of daily fibre consumption

Keep an eye on the amount of fibre consumed by your toddler, as a lack of dietary fibre may explain any digestive issues or constipation that the child experiences. A low-fibre diet is a well-known risk factor for chronic constipation in children. It may also be helpful to share this information with your toddler’s doctor.

Adjustments based on growth and development

As your child grows, the amount of dietary fibre they require will increase. For example, children between the ages of 11 and 16 years need about 25g of fibre a day. You can help ensure they are eating enough fibre by encouraging them to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and starchy foods.


Fibre is extremely important in a toddler’s diet. It contributes to the normal digestion of food and prevents constipation. There are two types of dietary fibre – soluble and insoluble. Both types of dietary fibre have different roles in the body, from ensuring smooth digestion to reducing the risks of chronic diseases by lowering the amount of cholesterol and sugar in the blood. By building good habits regarding diet and nutrition from an early age, children will grow up with a healthy attitude towards food and continue to lower their risks of developing conditions like cardiovascular disease later in their adulthood.


  1. Larrosa S, Luque V, Grote V, Closa-Monasterolo R, Ferré N, Koletzko B, et al. Fibre intake is associated with cardiovascular health in European children. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Dec 23 [cited 2024 Mar 4];13(1):12. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7822117/
  2. Brauchla M, Juan W, Story J, Kranz S. Sources of dietary fibre and the association of fibre intake with childhood obesity risk (In 2–18-year-olds) and diabetes risk of adolescents 12–18-year-olds: nhanes 2003–2006. J Nutr Metab [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2024 Mar 4];2012:736258. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3432551/
  3. Expert panel on integrated guidelines for cardiovascular health and risk reduction in children and adolescents: summary report. Pediatrics [Internet]. 2011 Dec [cited 2024 Mar 4];128(Suppl 5):S213–56. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4536582/
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Saba Amber

Medicinal and Biological Chemistry- BSc, Manchester Metropolitan University

Saba is a recent graduate in Medicinal Biochemistry with a particular interest in pharmacology.

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