ARLINGTON, VA (December 29, 2020) – Today, early childhood nutrition leader Gerber applauds the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) for the release of first-of-their-kind nutrition guidelines for young children as well as pregnant and lactating women within the 2020 – 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. By recognizing their unique needs, these latest guidelines make it possible for all babies to get the best start possible and parents to be informed on how to make every bite count.
As childhood nutrition experts and leaders for over 90 years, Gerber supports what is best for every family. For the first time there are now national guidelines designed for the unique nutrition needs of pregnant women, lactating moms, infants and toddlers. These have never been more crucial, as we continue to understand the importance of nutrition in the first years of life to build a foundation for lifelong health and prevent chronic disease.
“These new Dietary Guidelines are a tremendous step in the right direction to set up moms and babies for long-term success in their health,” said Dr. Erin Quann, Registered Dietitian, head of Medical Affairs at Gerber/Nestlé Nutrition. “At Gerber, research such as our Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) informs everything we do – from the products we make, the nutrition education we deliver and the services we offer. We are thrilled to see this science-based approach to baby’s nutrition take a more prominent place within the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”
The Dietary Guidelines now advise the following for infants and toddlers, of which Gerber supports with our products and services:
- For about the first 6 months of life, exclusively feed infants human milk. Continue to feed infants human milk through at least the first year of life, and longer if desired. Feed infants iron-fortified infant formula during the first year of life when human milk is unavailable.
- Provide infants with supplemental vitamin D beginning soon after birth.
Begin nutrient-dense foods from all food groups at around 6 months of age, but not before 4 months. Foods should be age and developmentally appropriate.
- Include foods rich in iron and zinc, such as infant cereal. Two servings of infant cereal a day meets baby’s need for iron – a critical nutrient for healthy brain development, learning ability and immune function.
- Include potentially allergenic foods, such as peanut and egg, in the infant diet when starting solids.
- The diets of infants and toddlers have virtually no room for foods with little nutrition and mostly added sugar. In particular, avoid sugar-sweetened beverages like fruity drinks for babies and toddlers.
- The second year of life is a unique time when children continue to have high nutrient needs from small amounts of foods. Encourage toddlers to consume a variety of nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein foods (including lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts, and seeds), dairy (including milk, yogurt, and cheese), and oils. Encouraging early acceptance among infants and toddlers of a variety of nutritious foods may help them build healthy habits from the start.
“From Gerber infant cereals fortified with iron, to nutritious meal and snack options with fruits, veggies and whole grains, and even beverages made without added sweeteners, Gerber has long been developing products that make every bite count,” said Sarah Smith-Simpson, principal scientist at Gerber. “The release of these new Dietary Guidelines reinforces our mission to establish healthy eating habits right from the start. Gerber will continue our work to advance research and high-quality products that further support baby’s dietary needs.”