USDA Feeding Guidelines for Babies: 3 Things Every Parent Should Know
For the first time ever, the USDA has released dietary guidelines for infants and toddlers under 2 years of age, recognizing the importance of this foundational feeding time is for your baby’s long-term health. Learn more about how “every bite matters” and how new recommendations can help your baby prevent up to 80% of food allergies.
Do you want your child to develop healthy eating habits for life, and help prevent food allergies? Food before age 1 is not just for fun. The way you feed your baby early on is crucial to giving them a healthy start---and giving them the best chance at an allergy-free future.
The USDA has recognized this in their 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines For Americans.
For the first time ever, the USDA has released dietary guidelines for infants and toddlers under 2 years of age. This is because the USDA has recognized how important this foundational feeding time is for someone's long-term health.
Before age 2, "every bite matters."
As the USDA report says, a nutritious diet under age 2 "is essential to support healthy growth and development during infancy and 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 USDA guidelines that every parent needs to know for feeding their baby:
- Feed baby peanut and egg early, to reduce their food allergy risk
- No added sugar for children under 2
- Feed baby a diverse, healthy diet
Feed baby peanut and egg early, to reduce their food allergy risk!
According to the USDA guidelines, it's crucial to start feeding your baby peanut early and often, starting as early as 4 months of age, to reduce their peanut allergy risk.
- As the guidelines report, "Strong evidence suggests that introducing peanut in the first year of life" (starting after a baby turns 4 months old) "may reduce risk of food allergy to peanuts."
- Early peanut introduction benefits all babies, regardless of their food allergy risk.
- But it's especially important for babies with severe eczema, who are at the highest risk for peanut allergies.
The USDA also recommends introducing baby to egg as early as 4 months of age, and before your baby turns one, to reduce your baby's egg allergy risk.
- Early egg introduction also benefits all babies, regardless of their food allergy risk.
These guidelines 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 significantly reduce your baby’s risk of developing food allergies.
- Waiting to introduce these foods until after your baby turns 1 actually increases their food allergy risk.
- In fact, when it comes to introducing peanut and egg, studies show that earlier is better for prevention.
As far as other allergy-causing foods like tree nuts, fish, and shellfish, the evidence isn't as strong that introducing these foods early helps prevent food allergies.
2. No added sugar for babies under 2!
The USDA guidelines are clear: babies under 2 shouldn't eat or drink anything with added sugar. Eating or drinking too much sugar increases babies' risk for obesity, and chronic health conditions, later in life.
As the guidelines report, parents should "avoid" giving babies " foods and beverages with added sugars during the first 2 years of 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.
Two-thirds of babies under age 1 are already eating added sugar---and on average, babies consume a teaspoon of added sugar per day.
- It's even worse among toddlers ages 1-2. Toddlers consume about 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day, and almost all toddlers (98%) consume added sugar daily.
So, parents need to check the foods and drinks they feed their babies carefully, as many products contain hidden added sugar.
- Fruit juices, flavored yogurts, packaged baby snacks, and cereals are common culprits.
- Even some pureed baby foods contain added sugar.
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 USDA. 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 USDA 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 USDA recommends:
- “A variety of 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.
Ready, Set, Food! Follows USDA Guidelines
Ready, Set, Food! aligns with USDA guidelines to introduce peanut and egg (plus milk), to help reduce your baby’s food allergy risk by up to 80%. Plus, our ingredients are only organic, non-GMO peanuts, egg, and milk...nothing else. Each daily packet of Ready, Set, Food! contains the highest quality peanut, egg, and milk powders, with no artificial additives and no added sugar.
Ready, Set, Food! makes peanut, egg, and milk introduction easy for every family.
We’ll help you enjoy this exciting time of introducing your baby to solids and take away the frustrating guesswork of preparing the right amounts of allergy-causing foods. Our evidence-based and all-natural approach aligns with USDA guidelines---introducing peanut and egg (plus milk), with no added sugar. So, you can focus on helping your baby explore diverse healthy foods---and having fun with the process!
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.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.