Good Nutrition Habits Start Early: How to Empower Parents

Heather Hamner, PhD, MS, MPH


September 24, 2018

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

We all know that good nutrition—especially for children from birth to 24 months—is vital for healthy growth and development. Clinicians are trusted sources of information about child nutrition. We often hear parents ask about when their child should begin eating solid foods, how to get their child to eat healthy foods, or what to do about a picky eater.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed a new website for parents and caregivers on Infant and Toddler Nutrition. This website brings together existing information and practical strategies on what, when, and how to feed infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months of age.

Parents and caregivers need credible, clear, and consistent information to help infants and toddlers get a healthy start in life. This is especially important because among US children between 1 and 2 years of age:

  • 15% are iron deficient;

  • Less than half eat a vegetable on a given day; and

  • More than 3 out of 10 drink a sugar-sweetened beverage on a given day.

When offering resources to parents, point them to CDC's Infant and Toddler Nutrition website.

Here, parents and caregivers can learn:

Providers searching for additional resources can explore CDC's State and Community Health Media Center, which is a collection of free and low-cost, audience-tested advertising and support materials. Search for materials that you can customize for your specific facility, including new resources targeting infant and toddler feeding practices in the first 2 years. Finally, the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Active Living for Families web portal also provides nutrition and feeding resources for both providers and parents.

Establishing good nutrition practices early can help children develop healthy eating patterns. Children with healthier eating patterns in their first year of life are more likely to have healthier eating patterns as they grow older. Medical professionals can play a critical role in ensuring that children develop healthy eating patterns during their first 2 years of life. We hope that you continue to discuss the importance of developing healthy eating patterns during your patients' well visits. These quick and easy-to-use resources can help parents with their family's journey towards a healthier life.

Web Resources