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No Fruit Juice for Infants

Reducing consumption of juice during infancy can reduce the risk of obesity later.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has extended its recommendation against offering juice to all infants from 6 months and younger to 12 months and under. Toddlers should be given no more that 4 oz (120 ml) of 100% juice; children 4-6 years old no more than 6 oz (180 ml) and 7-18 years no more than 8 oz (235 ml). 

PositiveTip: Parents and grandparents need to be aware of the impact juice can have on the weight infants and children. 

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Veggies For Infants

The earlier a child starts eating a vegetable, the more likely they are to keep eating it.

Health researchers found a key to overcoming the battle between kids and vegetables: serve them often and early. Researchers gave artichoke puree to 332 children from three countries at various ages and found younger children were more likely to continue eating the vegetable than older children. Even typically fussy eaters will continue to eat the vegetable if you give it to them 5-10 times at an early age.

PositiveTip:  Include plenty of veggies after weaning your children.

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Recommended Resource: Vegetarian Infants

Babies can be healthy on a well-balanced vegetarian diet.

Many vegetarian mothers and fathers wonder if a vegetarian diet is adequate for their infant? Vegetarian Infants, a free resource from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides guidelines for vegetarian parents in making healthy choices for their infant. Supplements for mom and baby, guidelines for choosing a formula, and when to introduce solid foods are all discussed.

PositiveTip: Inform yourself about wise dietary choices and be a confident vegetarian parent.

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Is It Really Safe for Mothers to Drink?

Danish study suggests that small amounts of alcohol might be safe, then cautions otherwise.

A series of articles by Danish researchers found that when 1600 children at age 5 were tested for intelligence, attention, and executive function, there were no significant differences between children whose mothers had ingested small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy and those who had not. However, the authors still recommended that women should not drink alcohol during pregnancy, as no safe level has been established.

PositiveTip: Pregnant or planning to be? Stay away from all alcoholic drinks.

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Soy Formula Good for Baby's Cognition

Soy or cow's milk formulas equally support baby's cognition.

Comparing infants fed cow's milk-based formula or soy-based formula, researchers, using standardized developmental testing found little or no differences. Breastfed infants had a slight advantage on some measures when compared to the formula fed groups, but these differences were very small in magnitude.

PositiveTip: If human breast milk is not an option, soy or cow's milk formulas can be excellent options for an infant.

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Advantages of Baby-led Weaning

Children who start eating solid finger-food on their own adopt healthier eating patterns.

When compared with parental spoon-feeding, infants allowed baby-led weaning learned to regulate their food intake leading to lower BMI and a preferance for healthier dietary patterns. When children were introduced to solid foods by feeding themselves, they preferred carbohydrates over other types, as well as protein-based foods and whole grains. If spoon-fed with pureed foods the children tended to become obese and prefer sugar-sweetened foods. More research is needed to explore these fascinating findings.

PositiveTip: Baby may know best! Parents should be patient and not force solid foods on their young children.

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Cravings for Salt May Begin in the Cradle

Early exposure to sodium may set the stage for a lifetime of salty desires.

Do you love to lick salt from the surface of foods? That desire may have started in infancy. Babies either dislike or are indifferent to salt when born. In a small, observational study, researchers have found that exposure to starchy table foods such as ready-to-eat cereals (a significant source of dietary sodium at this age) in the early months tended to prefer salty solutions over water by 6 months of age. When those who ate starchy foods as babies were retested as preschoolers, they were more likely to seek salt.

PositiveTip: Avoid adding starchy foods to an infants diet until after 6 months. This may help avoid a lifetime love for salty foods.

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Infants and Toddlers Need Adequate Sleep for Healthy Development

For healthy brain development infants and toddlers need at least 12-14 hours of sleep daily.

The American Academy Sleep Medicine recommends that infants get a minimum of 14 hours of sleep per day and toddlers 12 to 14 hours for healthy development. Parents are urged to make this a priority in starting their child’s health habits on the right foot. Even if your toddler fusses in an attempt to stay up, stick with it until it is a habit.

PositiveTip: Young children need their sleep! If you struggle in accomplishing this, check out these excellent tips.

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Infants and Herbal Supplements

Almost one in ten infants are fed herbal supplements.

Surveys of some 2700 mothers revealed that 9% of their children receive herbal supplements during their first year of life--sometimes as early as during the first month. These products were given most frequently to help with colic, fussiness, relaxation, digestion. Mothers who use supplements themselves were more likely to give them to their babies.

PositiveTip: Because some supplements pose health risks, parents should counsel with a pediatrician about their use.

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Bottle-feeding + Early Solid Foods = Formula for Early Obesity

Starting formula-fed babies on solid foods early may increase risk of obesity.

Formula-fed infants introduced to solid food before 4 months of age had 6.3 times higher risk of obesity by the age of 3 compared to breastfed infants. Breastfed infants showed no impact based on the age of introducing solid food (P<0.0001). This research confirms the long-term benefits of breast feeding during the first six months of baby's life.

PositiveTip: Breast-feeding young infants continues to be the healthiest choice for them!