Are Today's Babies More Overweight?
Pediatric Nutritionist Has Advice for Moms of Babies and Young Children
response to childhood obesity, lots of attention is being given to
school nutrition. Now, recent news suggests that even babies can be
affected by too much of the wrong food.
group of researchers assert that more babies and children under the age
of six are substantially larger or on the brink of being overweight
than they were 20 years ago. The news may alarm some who always admired
the cherubian look of plump babies, but Brandis Roman, pediatric
nutritionist at the University of Virginia Children's Hospital,
cautions that true "baby fat" should only last a limited time.
a child turns six or seven years of age and they still carry extra fat,
it's no longer æbaby fat'," said Roman. "To get babies off to
a good start and help them to avoid overeating as they grow up, babies
need to be allowed to regulate their own food intake."
parents or grandparents equate food with love, giving large portions
along with affection. This can lead to overfeeding. On the other hand,
when parents use food as a way to control behavior, bringing along
extra juice or snacks to keep a child quiet on an outing for example,
this too can promote an unhealthy relationship with food.
have strong appetites and experience fast growth in the first year of
life," said Roman. "As solid foods increasingly replace milk, a growth
and appetite lull happens after one year of age. Appetite takes off
again when kids hit puberty."
can parents best satiate their growing babies, toddlers and children?
Roman offers these tips:
- Breast milk or infant formula should be a baby's only food source for
at the least the first 4 months of life. While infant formula is an
adequate substitute for breast milk and is nutritionally complete,
mother's milk is the best source of nutrition for babies because it
contains immunity factors that aren't present in formula.
Pureed solid foods, such as fruits and vegetables, can be introduced
beginning at 4 months.
Whole milk can be introduced after one year-not before. Low fat or skim
milk is recommended after two years.
Avoid going overboard with juice. Infants and toddlers should have no
more than four to six ounces. Older children may get eight to 12
addition, Roman recommends that parents not give unpasteurized or raw
milk to infants as it could pose a bacteria risk. Foods that pose
allergy risks include peanuts and strawberries. Roman advises that
parents not introduce these foods until after one year of age. Also,
parents need to be aware that hard candies, hot dogs and popcorn can
pose choking hazards to small children.
more on maintaining good nutrition for children, visit the UVa Health
System parenting consumer website.
more information visit www.healthsystem.virginia.edu.