Health Tip: Make Sure Babies Eat Right

A baby's nutritional balance during the first 1,000 days of life is critical to lifelong mental health and development, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

Sufficient amounts of key minerals, vitamins, proteins and certain fats during the infant and toddler years is key to avoiding permanent loss of brain function, the academy said.

The AAP policy statement recommends:

  • Doctors should encourage women to breast feed, which provides nutrients not found in formula that may play a role in brain development.
  • Pediatricians should advocate strengthening government nutrition programs, focusing on maternal, fetal and neonatal nutrition.
  • Pediatricians and other child health care providers should recommend foods that supply nutrients that are critical for brain development. This includes speaking with families about which foods are rich in essential nutrients, and not just alternatives to junk foods.

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