The recommended daily calorie intake for children varies not only by age but also by gender. For example, girls aged 4 to 8 need about 1,200 calories a day, while boys aged 14 to 18 need as many as 2200. Accordingly, serving sizes for dietary components, such as protein sources and grains, may vary as a child ages, with older boys requiring about 50 percent larger servings of protein than they did when they were young.
According to the American Heart Association, young children have a natural ability to regulate their own nutritional intake, and forcing young children to finish meals against their will may result in overfeeding. It is natural if some children prefer to eat more at different times of the day that are not traditionally set aside for bigger meals.In general, no child's diet should exceed 2,000 calories per day except for older boys. On the other hand, children above the age of 4 should all be consuming at least 1,200 calories per day. From the ages of about 1 to 3, a diet of around 1,000 calories per day is sufficient.