Feeding Guidelines for Infants and Young Toddlers: A Responsive Parenting Approach

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Responsive parenting is a caregiving style expected to foster the development of self-regulation and promote optimal cognitive, social, and emotional development from the beginning of life. Critical dimensions of responsive parenting include feeding, sleeping, soothing, and play/physical activity; all are highly interconnected with each other. Responsive parenting interventions have been shown to have a beneficial impact on child feeding behaviors and weight outcomes. An expert panel convened by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, developed evidence-based guidelines for feeding infants and toddlers during the first 2 years of life. These responsive feeding guidelines were developed after an evidence-based consensus methodology. The guidelines address the periods of gestation, birth to 6 months, more than 6 months to 1 year, and more than 1 to 2 years. Fundamental principles of the guidelines include hunger and satiety cues, developmental milestones that indicate readiness for introduction of solids, and responsive approaches to repeatedly expose the young child to a variety of healthy foods and age-appropriate textures in the context of a stable and predictable nurturing environment.

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