Two-month-old Mavis Loan’s main meal consists of milk. But long before she arrived, her parents were thinking about her nutrition.
“Once she was pregnant, it was instantly ‘what goes into you goes into her.’ And I know once we do start feeding her solids, it'll be very conscious, yes,” says Mavis’ father, Conor Loan.
Loan says he and his wife are proactive in making sure their daughter has a healthy diet.
“We want her to be healthy, and we don't want any of the, you know, bad side effects of like childhood obesity,” Loan says.
Soon, it will be easier for other parents to follow healthy tips for their children. For the first time, the State Departments of Health and Agriculture (USDA) is providing dietary guidelines and recommendations for pregnant women, infants and young children. Recommendations include what and how much they should eat.
Dr. Theodore Stathos, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, says he’s relieved to see health guidelines for pregnant women and young children.
“When you read through most of the baby primer books, they talk a little bit about nutrition and choices, but they don't limit the quantities of simple sugars and they don't certainly limit the quantities of fats,” Dr. Stathos says.
A 2008 study in the medical journal The Lancet found malnutrition from conception to 24 months was linked to obesity, heart disease and other health problems.
Lucy Sullivan, founder of the nonprofit 1000 Days, says "if a child is overweight by age 5, there is a great risk the child will be dealing with obesity his entire life. It can be a life sentence."
Dr. Stathos says it can be harder to reverse changes as children get older. That's why although the guidelines won't be issued until next year, he says parents can start now making sure their children have a balanced meal
“It's very easy to pick them for them, and if you really want to have a cooperative child, as soon as they are able to point and make choices, you can take them to the grocery store with you and give them choices between two healthy things,” Dr. Stathos suggests.