Nutrition is Key


Infant and Newborn Nutrition

  • During the first 4-6 months babies only need breast milk or formula.
  • Breast milk is the best source of vitamins and minerals for babies.
  • If breastfeeding, a new born may need to nurse 8-12 times per day (every 2-4 hours), or on demand. By 4 months the baby is likely to cut back 4-6 times per day.
  • Formula-fed babies may need to eat about 6-8 times per day, starting newborns with 2-3 ounces of formulas per feeding (for a total of 16-24 ounces per day). The number of feedings will decrease as the baby gets older, but the amount of formula will increase approximately 6-8 ounces per feeding.
  • Infants should not be eating solid foods until 6 months of age. This could result in overeating or choking hazards.
  • Some foods to stay away from are:
    • Eggs
    • Honey

6-8 month old babies

  • Your baby will probably eat about 4 to 6 times per day, but will be eating larger amounts at each feeding
  • You can start to introduce solid foods at 6 months; however most of the baby’s calories should come from breast milk or formula.
  • Start to introduce more iron fortified cereals and iron rich fruits and vegetables, such as pureed, green peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, applesauce, pears, bananas, and peaches.
  • Try introducing vegetables before fruits, because the sweetness of the fruits can make the vegetables less appealing.
  • Only offer your child new foods when they are hungry
  • Avoid foods with added salt or sugar.

8-12 month old babies

  • At this age you can offer finger foods in small amounts. Some good finger foods are
    • Soft cooked vegetables
    • Washed and peeled fruits
    • Graham crackers
    • Melba toast
    • Noodles
  • Avoid foods that may cause choking such as apple chunks or slices, grapes, berries, raisins, dry flake cereals, hot dogs, sausages, peanut butter, popcorn, nuts, seeds, round candies and raw vegetables
  • Children should not be consuming cow’s milk or cow’s milk products (cheese) until they are at least 1 year old.

1 year of age

  • At this age, you may give your baby whole milk in place of breast milk or formula.  
  • Children under 2 should drink whole milk for the dietary fats needed for normal growth and brain development.
  • Some mother’s may choose to wean their babies, but it is also fine to continue breast feeding if you and your baby want to.
  • At this age, your baby will get most of their nutrition from meats, fruits and vegetables, grains and dairy. Make sure they get the vitamins and minerals they need by offering a variety of foods. 
  • Your child will start to crawl and walk and be much more active. They will eat smaller amounts at a time, but will eat more often (4-6 times a day). Have healthy snacks handy and ready.
  • If your child dislikes a new food, try giving it to them again later. It often takes several tries for children to take to new foods.
  • Don’t give your child sweets or sugary beverages.
  • Avoid salt, strong spices and caffeine products, including soft drinks, coffee, tea and chocolate.
  • If your baby is fussy, they may need attention, rather than food.

The Toddler Ages

  • ntroduce new flavors and textures.
  • Food preferences are developed early in life, so help your child develop a taste for healthy foods.
  • Serve foods that are packed with the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong, limit the sweets and empty calories.
  • Toddlers will explore self-feeding; allow them the opportunity to practice these skills.
  • Allow your toddler to respond to internal cues for hunger and fullness
  • Even though you may provide a variety of foods to offer at a meal, your child decides which of those foods to eat, how much to eat and whether to eat at all. This is normal for this age!
  • When your child is 2, you can switch to low-fat or nonfat milk.
  • Toddlers should be eating according to the MyPlate recommendations.
  • Read to toddlers daily
  • Respond to wanted behaviors more than you punish unwanted behaviors (only use a brief timeout)
    • Always tell or show  your child what they should do instead
  • Limit TV and screen time

School Aged Children

  • At this age they will be eating at school more, and less under the control of what you are serving
  • Have conversations at home about why it is important to eat healthy and what healthy options
  • With the knowledge, they will be less tempted to make unhealthy choices at school
  • Send a water bottle with them to school 
  • Have fruit and vegetables ready and at easy access for snacks 
  • On the counter, washed, cut up, etc.
  • It is normal for kids to be opinionated and fussy eaters at this age
  • Let your children make small choices
  • When disciplining your child, be clear and consistent. Explain and show the behavior that you expect from them. Whenever you tell them no, follow up with what they should be doing instead.
  • Have age appropriate play equipment and let them choose what they want to play

Middle Childhood (9-11 years of age)

  • Peer relationships become more important at this age.
  • At this age they will begin to experience more peer pressure.
  • They will become more aware of their bodies as puberty approaches.
  • Body image and eating problems sometimes start around this age.
  • Have your child more involved in house hold tasks and give them more responsibilities
  • Have children help prepare meals.

Teenage years (12-17 years of age)

  • At this age there is concern about body image, looks and clothes.
  • They will experience more moodiness.
  • They might express less affection towards parents; sometimes seem rude or short tempered
  • At this age they might develop eating problems.
  • Be honest and direct with your teen. 
  • Meet and get to know their friends.
  • Show an interest in their school life.
  • Respect their opinions and take into account their thoughts and feelings.
  • Be clear about goals and expectations, but allow their input on those goals.
  • Meal time is very important to connect to your teen and it helps them to make better choices about the foods they eat, promotes healthy weight, and gives your family members time to talk with each other.