Brain development and nutrition in early childhood influences future learning, health, and well-being. The first 1000 days of life, from conception through the child's second birthday, is a period of exponential brain growth and neurological development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes this period as critical for appropriate nutrition, focusing on specific nutrients such as protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, and other micronutrients, vitamins, and cofactors. The consequences of poor nutrition during early life can have lasting effects that may not be reversible.
Nutrient gaps are common for infants and toddlers as they transition from human milk or formula to complementary foods and the family table after one year of age. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), young children consume excessive amounts of added sugars (as sugar-sweetened beverages), saturated fats, and not enough fruits and vegetables.
This module presentation will review the significance of nutrition in the first 1000 days of life and the NHANES findings among infants and toddlers. Discussions will also include common nutrient insufficiencies with recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines of America. Particular focus will be on nutrient gaps, transition to complementary foods, early introduction of allergenic foods, and meal planning/feeding patterns that include snacks and beverage alternatives to bridge any nutrient gaps.
- Consider common toddler dietary concerns (e.g., vitamin D intake, milk anemia, nutrient-poor foods) and the impact of complementary feeding
- Review how complementary foods support nutritional and developmental milestones
- Describe appropriate introduction of complementary foods into a toddler's diet to help achieve optimal nutrition
- Discuss a case study to illustrate the benefits of optimal toddler nutrition and examine how to manage common challenges with complementary feeding and picky eating
Lucille Beseler, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES, FAND
President, Family Nutrition Center of South Florida
Lucille Beseler is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, Author, Speaker and Entrepreneur. She has had longstanding involvement and leadership in the field of nutrition on the state and national level, including her time as 91st president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. As an advocate for nutrition science in preventing and treating chronic diseases, Lucille speaks nationally on the consequences of obesity and related diseases and has authoredNurturing with Nutrition: Everything you need to know about feeding infants and toddlers. She continues to live in Florida providing nutrition services to her community and beyond.