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When Does It All Begin: What, When, and How Young Children Are Fed


Bentley, Margaret E. & Nulty, Alison K. (2020). When Does It All Begin: What, When, and How Young Children Are Fed.. Michaelsen, Kim F.; Neufeld, Lynette M.; & Prentice, Andrew M. (Eds.) (pp. 15-24). Switzerland: Nestle Nutrition Institute.


The first 2 years of life are a critical period to promote nutrition and dietary behaviors for optimal growth and development. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended until 6 months with the addition of safe, nutritionally adequate complementary foods thereafter. Caregiver adherence to international guidelines for feeding infants and toddlers varies depending on the setting, access to information, quality of food, and cultural beliefs. Caregiver feeding style also plays an important role in what foods and drinks are offered and whether young children accept those foods. Feeding guidelines often include what is called "responsive feeding," which is the importance of caregiver attention to child cues of hunger and satiety. While there are data on food consumption and dietary diversity in early childhood, the literature on early childhood beverage consumption is limited. With the increased consumption and availability of sugar-sweetened beverages, future research should aim to understand the status of global beverage consumption among children under 2 years old and its impact on growth and development. This chapter highlights current infant and young child feeding recommendations, what young children eat and drink, and the role that parental feeding styles can have on diet and early childhood outcomes.


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Bentley, Margaret E.
Nulty, Alison K.