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                                                        DR. DAN PETERSON

                                                                      1415 SAGE STREET ~ GERING, NEBRASKA 69341 
      Call: 308-436-3491           

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Your baby depends on you to provide all they need for good health.

Eating patterns of infants and toddlers are different from those of adults

     For their size, they require more calories and different types, textures, and portions of food for good health and proper growth.

What is best for feeding infants?

     For the first few months, breast milk or formula provide for a baby's nutrient needs. Health professionals recommend that whole cow's milk be fed to infants when breast milk and formula are no longer offered, usually when the infant turns one year.

     When it is time to introduce solid foods to the baby, parents should first offer plain, single-ingredient foods, watching for symptoms of food allergies or sensitivities such as diarrhea or skin rashes. 

     Babies grow so rapidly that, for their size, they need more iron, calcium, and zinc than at any other time. At this time, you can add fortified infant cereals to the baby's diet to help provide these minerals. When introducing solids, first try iron-fortified cereals, followed by a variety of pureed vegetables and fruits such as peas, carrots, peaches, or applesauce.

     For older infants, other sources of iron include meats, poultry, and cooked dried beans and peas. Offer a variety of whole-grain breads, fortified cereals and crackers, milk, yogurt, and cheese.

     To help babies and toddlers accept new foods, offer the same new food for several days in a row. Practice and patience by parents are key ingredients to help children develop healthful eating habits.

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More on food variety

     Offering a variety of foods at an early age sets the stage for life-long healthful eating habits. No one food ensures a healthy eating pattern. Parents can help balance older infants' and toddlers' nutrient intakes by offering a variety of foods. Include foods from all of the food groups every day to help supply the energy, vitamins, and minerals growing children need.

Special tips for feeding toddlers

     As toddlers become more independent, they enjoy feeding themselves and often develop their own food likes, dislikes, and eating habits. "Food jags" are common. A food jag is a short-term eating habit in which toddlers select the same food for every meal. Toddlers may choose these favorite foods for one week and ignore them the next. Since food jags are usually short term, the toddlers' nutrient intakes are balanced over time.

     After 12 months of age, serve about two cups of whole milk in place of formula each day to be certain toddlers eat enough foods that contain calcium. 

     After age two, gradually switch from whole milk to lower-fat milk, such as 2 percent, 1 percent, or skim. If fruit drinks or juices are offered in place of formula or milk, the toddler may not get the calcium and other minerals needed for proper bone growth. Serving other calcium-rich foods like yogurt and cheese either as snacks or with meals will also help meet calcium needs and build strong bones.

     Use appropriate portion sizes of foods to meet infants' and toddlers' nutritional needs. A general guide for providing adequate portion sizes is to offer one tablespoon of each food for every year of age. Allow infants and toddlers to eat until they are full. It is unwise to force a child to eat or to use food as a reward.  

Keep mealtime a pleasant time for everyone.

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Adult dietary guidelines are not for infants

     Adult dietary guidelines are for adults only. Adults usually need to lower the amount of fats and sometimes calories in their own eating patterns. However, efforts to limit fat intake for infants and toddlers are unwise. Infants and toddlers under two years need fat and calories to fuel their rapid growth.

Physical activity = playtime for infants

     Plan times of active play with your infant or toddler every day to encourage a healthful lifestyle. Some active games include pat-a-cake, hide and seek, and duck, duck, goose. Help your toddler develop the habit of making regular physical activity a fun part of a healthy lifestyle.

     Every baby is different, with different food likes and dislikes. Registered dietitians or other health professionals can help answer specific infant feeding or nutrition questions.

For more information

 The American Dietetic Association/National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics Consumer Nutrition Hotline
For food and nutrition information or for a referral to a registered dietitian in your area, call 800/366-1655. For customized answers to your food and nutrition questions by a registered dietitian, call 900/CALL-AN-RD (900/225-5267). The cost of the call will be $1.95 for the first minute and $.95 for each additional minute.

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 Gerber Products Company
445 State Street
Fremont, MI 49413

This fact sheet is provided by American Dietetic Association.

Visit A.G.D. on: Development Chart For Feeding Tots

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PLEASE NOTE: The information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only.  It is not intended and should not be construed as the delivery of dental/medical care and is not a substitute for personal hands on dental/medical attention, diagnosis or treatment.  Persons requiring diagnosis, treatment, or with specific questions are urged to contact your family dental/health care provider for appropriate care.
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