Want your baby to go gaga for greens? Start him off right.
For the first time, experts reporting to the US Department of Health & Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture have included the advice as part of a twice-a-decade study into how people’s diet affects long-term health, and new guidelines have been issued for feeding babies from birth until 2 years of age.
And that old adage “Food before 1 is just for fun,” no longer applies.
The report confirmed that a healthy diet during the life stages from birth to 24 months and during pregnancy and lactation “is essential to support healthy growth and development during infancy and childhood, adolescence and adulthood.”
It maintained that the first 1,000 days of life “not only contribute to long-term health but also help shape taste preferences and food choices.” Not only that, the committee said: “early life nutritional exposures have emerged as an etiological risk factor associated with later-life chronic disease risk.”
Here are six of the main recommendations of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Committee relating to the eating habits of young kids and pregnant women:
Absolutely no added sugar for babies
“Infants should avoid food and drink with added sugar during the first two years of life,” the committee stated. “The energy in such products is likely to displace energy from nutrient-dense foods, increasing the risk of nutrient inadequacies.” The experts made the link between consumption of sugar-sweetened processed beverages and being overweight or obese. They said nearly 70 percent of added sugars come from products such as sweetened drinks, desserts, sweet snacks and breakfast cereals and bars.
Breast milk is better
“The strongest evidence found was that ever being breast-fed may reduce the risk of overweight or obesity, type 1 diabetes and asthma compared to never being breast-fed,” the committee concluded. The members found rapid weight gain was more likely among formula-fed infants than those nursed by their mothers, possibly due to higher protein intake with formula or overfeeding by the caregiver so as not to “waste” food.
No solids for babies before they are 4 months old
Research showed that starting an infant’s first foods ahead of the four-month threshold is associated with an increased risk of obesity between the ages of 2 and 12. The problem was especially true for formula-fed babies who might not be able to regulate their feelings of “fullness” as well as breast-fed ones.
Introduce peanuts and eggs early to reduce allergies
The committee found that feeding peanuts and eggs “in an age appropriate form” after 4 months of age could reduce the risk of food allergy. It said the evidence wasn’t as strong for other allergens such as nuts and seafood. There was also no harm in introducing such potentially allergic foods at this stage.
Give Vitamin D and pay attention to iron and zinc
Since breast milk doesn’t contain enough…