Relationship between feeding and development of infants set out for parents for the first time

New guidance helps parents to see the connection between developmental stages and feeding infants and young children

A brand new resource for parents combines the developmental stages of infants and young children and their relationship with food and feeding. This influence starts as early as in the womb.

The resource has been launched by an independent group of leading experts in infant and child nutrition and development, the Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF). This is a practical guide to help parents and carers recognise and understand how growing infants and young children develop skills related to food and feeding - including taste, texture and food preferences – and how these impacts on the types of foods they are willing to eat both now and in future life.

The guidance also provides tips on responsive feeding - how to recognise an infant or toddlers’ cues that indicate when they are hungry and when they have had enough to eat or drink. Allowing an infant or toddler to respond to natural feelings of fullness and regulating appetite may help to prevent obesity in later life.

This guide builds on the resource released last year for healthcare professionals, and is evidence based. The information is split into five easy to follow age group sections, giving in-depth and illustrated advice on feeding babies and young children.

Gillian Harris, Developmental and Clinical Psychologist and a member of the ITF comments:

“Feeding babies and young children can be an intense and emotional (positive and negative) experience for both parent and child. During the early years, a child’s relationship with food and feeding, including the introduction of complementary foods and the transition to family foods, can be critical for his or her health and development, and have long term consequences on dietary range.”

“Parents often ask when their child will develop feeding and drinking related skills and acquire preferences for particular foods. This guidance aims to provide parents with that knowledge to help them be better informed on their child’s developmental milestones. It is a great resource.”

The guidance is supported by other useful resources for parents, including Portion Sizes and Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers, as well as information on common problems such food refusal and allergies.

 The Developmental Stages in Infant and Toddler Feeding resource is available now.

Further Reading

  • The Infant and Toddler Forum (ITF) welcomes the government’s announcement today to reduce sugar content in food and drink by 20%, and to introduce a sugar levy.

    Judy More, paediatric dietitian and ITF member, said: “Sugary food and drinks can have a detrimental effect on children’s health. When eaten too frequently they cause tooth decay and add excess calories increasing the likelihood of overweight and obesity.  Young children naturally like sweet food and drinks but it is a parent’s responsibility to offer children a balanced diet with a limit on sugary food and drinks. Reducing sugar intake by cutting out sugary drinks is an easy way to do this. We welcome any development that supports parents to better manage sugar consumption in their young children’s diets, makes them aware of the importance of doing so, and helps them put this into action. Continue reading

  • Whilst, recent research questions the use of multivitamin supplementation during pregnancy, the Infant & Toddler Forum maintain that the most important advice to give mothers-to-be is to take a daily supplement of 10µg vitamin D throughout pregnancy and 400µg folic acid up until at least the 12th week of pregnancy. Continue reading

  • As evidence builds on the risk for babies of overweight mothers, a new simple guide sheds light on the right advice to follow

     A new online resource, Ten Steps for a Healthy Pregnancy, aims to help mums-to-be to use pregnancy as a window of opportunity to build good habits for health, growth and development for both mum and baby. The resource by the Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF) Continue reading