The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s USDA nutritional guidelines have been updated as of Tuesday, Dec. 29, and here is everything you need to know….
The guidelines, which are updated every five years, include specific recommendations for the diets of both babies as well as toddlers. The most important take away? Sugar.
For both infants and toddlers, there should be zero added sugars in their diet due to the link between childhood obesity and future chronic health problems.
And once they reach two years of age, added sugars should only be 10 percent of a child’s caloric intake.
In a previous study, it was found that infants and toddlers consume an average of one and six teaspoons of added sugar each day.
But if one eliminates five food categories including sweetened beverages, desserts and sweet snacks, coffee and tea, candy and sugars, and breakfast cereals and bars — it can reduce added sugars intake by 70 percent.
Saturated fats should be limited to 10 percent of calories per day for kids at the age of two. A recommended sodium limit of 2,300 milligrams for kids under 14 is unchanged from the 2015 guidelines.
The guidelines specify “a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.” And from birth to six months, they define that as exclusively feeding kids human milk, or iron-fortified formula if it’s unavailable.
At six months, “nutrient-dense” foods can be added, but human milk is still recommended as a part of babies’ diets through at least the first year.
“Potentially allergenic” foods like peanuts, eggs, cow’s milk (and products), tree nuts, wheat, soy, as well as shellfish should also be introduced around six months, as early exposure can reduce a child’s risk of developing a food allergy.
In addition, it is also recommended are vitamin D supplements starting soon after birth, as human milk is deficient in the key nutrient.
And while the guidelines are built on previous editions of the dietary recommendations and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s scientific report, many key changes recommended by scientists did not make it into the final recommendations.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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