3 USDA Feeding Report 'Must Knows' for Babies
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Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: 3 Things Every Parent Should Know

For the first time ever, the USDA Scientific Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee includes recommendations for infants and toddlers under 2 years of age, recognizing the importance of this foundational feeding time for your baby’s long-term health. Learn more about how “every bite counts” and how new recommendations can help you reduce your baby’s risk of developing a food allergy.

 

"Introducing peanut and egg...after age 4 months may reduce the risk of food allergy." - USDA Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

All parents want to help their children develop healthy eating habits for life, and the exciting thing is that by doing so, parents can also help reduce the risk of food allergies in their babies! The way you feed your baby early on is crucial to giving them a healthy start.

The USDA has recognized the importance of introducing healthy food to infants in their Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

For the first time ever, the report includes recommendations for infants and toddlers under 2 years of age. This is because the 2020-2025 DGA has recognized how important this foundational feeding time is for a child’s long-term health. 

Before age 2, "every bite counts."

As the USDA report states, a healthy diet under age 2 "is essential to support healthy growth and development during infancy and childhood, and to promote health and prevent chronic disease through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.” 

Also, feeding decisions during a child's first 1,000 days of life are crucial, because they "not only contribute to long-term health but also help shape taste preferences and food choices."

Here are 3 points from the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that every parent needs to know when it comes to feeding their baby:

  • Feed baby peanut and egg early, to reduce their food allergy risk to these allergens
  • No added sugar for children under 2
  • Feed baby a diverse, healthy diet
  1. Feed baby peanut and egg early, to reduce their food allergy risk to these allergens

According to the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, it's recommended to start feeding your baby peanut early and often, starting as early as 4 months of age, to reduce their peanut allergy risk. 

The Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee also recommends introducing baby to egg as early as 4 months of age, and before baby turns one, to reduce their egg allergy risk.

These recommendations are supported by clinical trials (LEAP, EAT, and PETIT), which show that early introduction of foods like peanut and egg is safe, and can help to significantly reduce your baby’s risk of developing food allergies. 

  • Delaying introduction actually increases their food allergy risk.
  • In fact, when it comes to introducing peanut and egg, studies show that earlier is better for reducing risk. 

     2. No added sugar for babies under 2

The Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is clear: babies under 2 shouldn't eat or drink anything with added sugar. Ingesting too much sugar increases babies' risk for obesity, and chronic health conditions, later in life.

As the report states, parents should "avoid foods and beverages with added sugars during the first 2 years of (an infant’s) life." This is because the unhealthy energy in sugary foods takes away from the energy in nutritious foods, "increasing the risk of nutrient inadequacies." 

Added sugar is any sugar that doesn't show up naturally in unprocessed food or drink.

  • The natural sugars in fruits, cow's milk, and breastmilk are fine for babies because these foods are also packed with nutritional benefits.
  • But sugars added to prepared or processed foods are not okay for babies.

      3. Feed your baby a diverse, healthy diet

Feeding your baby a variety of healthy foods is key to developing healthy habits for life, says the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Even though babies develop at different rates and each baby will have different nutritional needs, keep your baby’s diet diverse and nutritious.

For babies 6-12 months who are starting solids, the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends:

  • Continuing breastmilk or formula.
  • Prioritizing fruits and vegetables. The best choices are fruits and vegetables high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. This provides solid nutritional foundations and encourages babies to eat and love these foods throughout the rest of their life. 
  • Also prioritizing diverse types of meats and seafood, as well as egg. This covers key nutrients, such as iron, zinc, choline, and healthy fatty acids.
  • Feeding baby age-appropriate forms of peanut and egg, to help prevent food allergies and provide healthy fatty acids.
  • Leaving no room for added sugars and very little room for added oils and added solids and fats. 

For 12-24-month-olds (especially those no longer consuming breastmilk or formula), the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends:

  • Nutrient-rich animal-source foods, including meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products.
  • Prioritizing seafood.
  • Fruits and vegetables, especially ones high in potassium.
  • Peanut, tree nuts, and seeds.
  • Whole grains.
  • Few oils, and no added sugar

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    All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

    See the FDA Peanut Allergy Qualified Health Claim at the bottom of our homepage.

    About the author: Our Chief Allergist, Katie Marks-Cogan, M.D., is board certified in Allergy/Immunology and Internal Medicine, and treats both pediatric and adult patients. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she received her M.D. with honors from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She then completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Northwestern and fellowship in Allergy/Immunology at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania and CHOP. After finishing training, she moved to Southern California and currently works in private practice. She is a  member of the scientific advisory board for Ready, Set, Food! She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, 4-year-old son, and 1-year-old daughter where she enjoys hiking, building LEGO castles with her kids, and cooking with her family.

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