The New Dietary Guidelines For Americans Make Some Important Changes For Children

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans just released its new science-based guidelines that are put together every five years and there have been some major changes. For the first time, in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, it has issued recommendations on how to create a healthy diet for infants and toddlers. In the executive summary, the report states you should exclusively feed infants, that is babies six months and younger, human milk. Afterwards, you can continue for as long as you wish, however, it doesn't recommend it. If human milk is unavailable, it suggests feeding them iron-fortified formula and supplemental vitamin D.

It also recommends at six months to introduce nutrient-dense foods, including potentially allergenic ones. In the report, it goes on to explain that infants that experience peanut-containing foods in their first year have a lower risk of developing a peanut allergy later on — obviously don't give them whole peanuts though, as that's a choking hazard.

For children in their second year, the report stresses the importance in developing a healthy diet. As early food preferences lock in, introducing a toddler to, for example, unsweetened beverages will help establish a better dietary habit as they grow more easily than an attempt to enforce one at a later date. They even added an appendix for an early stage vegetarian life, to help parents who want to raise their children in such an environment, without sacrificing their health. 

Industry weighs in on new Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Some businesses were quick to give their opinion on the new recommendations. The American Egg Board, a promotional and marketing organization for eggs, released its reaction on PR Newswire. "The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans confirm what the science has shown: eggs provide critical nutritional support for brain health, and they play a crucial role in infant development and prenatal health," said Emily Metz, president and CEO of the American Egg Board."

However, Madelyn Fernstrom, diet and nutrition expert, told Today that that big takeaway from the report should be about dietary patterns over time. "It's still the same basic messages (encouraging) whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and dairy products and a small amount of healthy fats," she said. "That message hasn't changed, but what is changing is that it's about balance and about dietary patterns over time, rather than a single day or single week." 

She explained the report is really meant to be a guideline that helps families make the healthiest choices they can over time.