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Guidelines to help parents determine what's best to feed their infants and toddlers are being developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators.
The new guidelines, developed by the Children's Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) in Houston, Texas, the American Dietetic Association and Gerber Foods Products company, fill an information gap. That's because much of the available nutrition information has been intended mainly for children ages 2 years and up, or for infants under 6 months. The new guidelines are meant for toddlers between those ages.
Called the "Start Healthy Feeding Guidelines," the recommendations complement and expand--not replace--early-feeding recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other expert groups. The guidelines provide practical and useful recommendations based on scientifically sound evidence.
Taking the lead for CNRC are Nancy Butte and William Heird, both professors of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and the CNRC. The two were part of the panel of leading pediatric experts who developed the new guidelines, which were prompted in part by the growing problem of childhood obesity. Health care providers need a better foundation for making infant and toddler feeding recommendations, and they need better tools for communicating the importance of establishing healthy habits in early childhood.
The guideline's website, http://www.gerber.com/starthealthy, provides content from the expert panel, including a comprehensive brochure with tips and information on feeding young children. Guideline topics include coping with food allergies and sensitivities, how to feed infants and develop children's self-feeding skills, and the importance of physical activity.
Read more about the research in the June 2005 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.