Put away your adult notions about fat where a young child's diet is concerned. A low-fat eating plan is not advised for children under two years of age. Fat is an excellent source of the energy, or calories, that supports a young child's rapid growth and active lifestyle. Some fatty acids -- linoleic and linolenic acid -- are essential for growth. They must be supplied by food because the body can't make them.
Between ages two and five, it's ok to gradually reduce fat. As they consume less calories, or energy, from fat, children can get more energy from nutrient-rich foods that have less fat: grain products, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, and other protein-rich foods.
By age nine, a child's eating style should conform to the same Dietary Guidelines as older children and adults -- limiting fat to no more than 30 percent of total calories, and saturated fat to no more than 10 percent of total calories. Remember that this guideline refers to your child's overall diet -- not to one food, meal, or even one day's intake. This guideline is meant for the total fat in food choices over several days.
Higher-fat foods, in moderate amounts, can fit in a child's healthful eating plan. They're a concentrated energy source that fuels growth, development, and active play. These foods also add taste and variety to a balanced diet.