Dietary Guidelines revision now has recommendations for infants and toddlers
Friday, January 22, 2021
For the first time since its inception in 1980, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans released at the end of 2020 includes a section detailing nutritional information for infants and toddlers ages birth to 23 months.
What exactly is the Dietary Guidelines for Americans? Janice Hermann, Oklahoma State University Extension nutrition specialist, said the guidelines provide science-based advice on what to eat and drink to promote good health, reduce the risk of chronic disease and meet nutrient needs and is jointly published by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services every five years. It is designed for policymakers, along with nutrition and health professionals, to help all individuals and their families consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet.
“These guidelines are the culmination of years of research, scientific review, public involvement and U.S. governmental approval,” Herman said. “Established in 1980, this is the ninth edition of the guidelines. It’s exciting to see information regarding the youngest of our population.”
Using the slogan “Make Every Bite Count,” the 2025 DGA emphasizes nutrient-dense foods and beverages while eliminating those high in added sugar, saturated fat and sodium, and staying within calorie limits. It also established a life stage approach to create recommendations for specific people of different ages, along with women who are pregnant or lactating.
The new guidelines indicate for the first six months of life, infants should exclusively be fed human milk, or iron-fortified infant formula should be given if human milk is not available.
The DGA goes further and indicates infants who are breastfed should be provided with supplemental vitamin D beginning soon after birth. Infant formula is fortified with vitamin D. Babies should get at least 400 IU of vitamin D supplementation per day.
“Babies need vitamin D for healthy growth and development, and it helps build strong, healthy bones and teeth,” Hermann said.
When babies reach about 6 months of age, the DGA suggests introducing infants to nutrient-dense complementary foods. Babies also should continue drinking human milk or iron-fortified infant formula through at least their first year of life. This also is the time to introduce potentially allergenic foods.
In addition, the DGA recommends infants and toddlers less than 2 years of age avoid foods and beverages with added sugar and limit foods and beverages higher in sodium. Starting at age 2, the DGA recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day and limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day.
“Establishing healthy dietary patterns during childhood and adolescence is critical because these habits tend to continue into the adult years,” Hermann said. “Learning to make healthy food choices early on can help combat chronic health conditions later on.”
Check out OSU Extension’s website for more nutrition information.