Guest post for Love Child Organics: http://www.lovechildorganics.com/blog/
Usually I answer a question from you – a member of the Love Child community. However, something noteworthy happened last month that I thought was worth writing about.
Quietly on a Friday last month, a joint statement from Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada was released called Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants: Recommendations from Six to 24 Months: Principles and recommendations for the nutrition of older infants (six to 12 months) and young children (12 to 24 months)
I was happy to see it finally be released because previously there were recommendations for 0 – 6 months and for 2 years and up, but nothing existed for Canadian parents for little ones between the ages of 6 months to 2 years. And, this is a time when so much changes and parents have so many questions! In addition, I was happy to see it be released because I had provided feedback on a draft version quite some time ago.
The group who developed this document reviewed the scientific evidence to develop guidelines for feeding our little ones. I wanted to share it with you in hopes that it will help cut through the mixed (and often conflicting messages) out there and help bust some persistent myths.
The overarching statement is:
“Breastfeeding - exclusively for the first six months, and continued for up to two years or longer with appropriate complementary feeding - is important for the nutrition, immunologic protection, growth, and development of infants and toddlers.”
There are 7 main points (and my comments on each):
- Breastfeeding is an important source of nutrition for older infants and young children as complementary foods are introduced.
- I was happy to see this statement because blog that I wrote previously for my own website received a lot of attention when I busted the myth that breastfeeding once you’ve introduced solid foods only provides water.
- Supplemental vitamin D is recommended for infants and young children who are breastfed or receiving breastmilk.
- Yes, it’s recommended that you continue with vitamin D drops even after you’ve introduced solid foods.
- Complementary feeding, along with continued breastfeeding, provides the nutrients and energy to meet the needs of the older infant.
- An important point that they make is that purees are a great texture. But do introduce lumpy textures before nine months. And, keep progressing through a wide variety of textures by 1 year.
- Responsive feeding promotes the development of healthy eating skills.
- By “responsive feeding” they mean involving your baby as an active participant in eating. This means no sneaking in bites when they aren’t looking and no “here comes the airplane”. Feed your baby as much as they are interested in eating – which will sometimes be a lot and will sometimes be one bite.
- They also mean the importance of providing your baby with the opportunity to learn eating skills. This includes learning how to self-feed with finger foods and learning how to drink from an open (lidless) cup.
- Iron-rich complementary foods help to prevent iron deficiency.
- Offer iron-rich foods several times each day including meats, meat alternatives, and iron-fortified baby cereal. Choose a variety of these foods that your family eats.
- Foods for older infants and young children must be prepared, served, and stored safely.
- This refers both to avoiding choking hazards and avoiding food poisoning.
- An important point made here is to not leave kids unsupervised while eating. I’d add the point that kids shouldn’t eat while driving in the car, running around playing, etc because of the choking hazard.
- From one year of age, young children begin to have a regular schedule of meals and snacks, and generally follow the advice in Canada's Food Guide.
- It’s likely not news to you that they recommend minimal sugar, salt, juice, and sugary drinks.
- I love that they go on to mention how important parents are as healthy eating in role models!
While it’s written in language directed to health professionals, you can check out the recommendations for yourself at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/recom-6-24-months-6-24-mois-eng.php