The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 is the first edition to include recommendations for infant and toddlers! From birth to 2 years old is a critically important time for parents to feed their children properly to promote optimal growth and development. It is also an important time to establish healthy dietary patterns that can influence food preferences and eating behaviors later in life. The theme “Make Every Bite Count” is highlighted throughout this edition and is all the more fitting for children 2 years and younger, as they tend to consume small quantities of food frequently throughout the day.
Notable Guidelines for Children Birth to 2 Years Old:
· Recommendation to exclusively breastfeed up to 1 year of age, and longer if desired. Offer iron-fortified formula during the first year of life when human milk is not available.
· Provide infants with a vitamin D supplement beginning at birth.
· At about 6 months, introduce infant to nutrient-dense complementary foods.
· Introduce baby to potentially allergenic foods with other complementary foods, for example: peanuts, eggs, cow milk products, nuts, wheat, shellfish, fish, and soy. The guidelines state that there is no evidence that delaying potentially allergenic foods help to prevent food allergies. However, we encouraged all parents and caregivers to discuss this topic with their doctors before proceeding.
· Offer a variety of foods from all food groups beginning at 6 months and beyond, including protein, fruit and vegetables, dairy, and grains. At this time, taste preferences begin to develop therefore it is important to expose children to a variety of foods. It may take up to 8 to 10 times for a young child to be exposed to a new food to like it due to new textures and flavors. Repeated offerings increase the likelihood of an infant accepting new foods.
· Parents, caregivers and guardians play an important role in a young child’s nutrition because infants and toddlers are fully reliant on them for their every need. The edition also introduced the term, Responsive Feeding. Response Feeding emphasizes recognizing and the responding to hunger and fullness cues of your child. This will help allow the child to self-regulate their dietary intake.
· Avoid added sugars and foods higher in sodium. Taste preferences are formed at a young age and children may develop preferences for sweet and salty foods.
It’s safe to say that recommendations for baby and young children are always changing. However, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 can currently help parents navigate the eating behaviors of their young children. It’s never too early or too late to begin eating well!
Information regarding this blog and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 can be found at: