Infancy and Childhood

An excellent summary of the nutrients and development needs for food in this age group has been recently published (Fig. 37-1). This figure provides guidance about major nutrient needs and how the infant and child can meet these needs. These evidence-based guidelines were developed by a panel of pediatricians, nutritionists, and the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) after comprehensive review of the literature.

It is important to help parents understand that the introduction of new foods takes time. Researchers found that it takes at least eight different attempts of introducing a new food before a child will show true acceptance or rejection (Birch et al., 1991; Satter, 2000). Parents must understand that their role is to provide a healthy range and variety of foods in a pleasant eating environment, whereas the child's role is to consume the food in the amounts that he or she needs and wants. This foundation of good food habits will carry through to the adolescent stage, in which independence and finding ways of expressing this independence are achieved not only in social functioning but also in food and health habits.

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