Nutrition Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers: Healthy Fats and Foods vs Media Hype and Commercial Foods

There is a lot of misinformation out there about correct nutrition for kids. A few examples include: fats like butter (very important!), soy (terrible!), and vegan diets (terrible!).

Some of the reasons for this misinformation include that pediatricians only spend 1 hour in medical school studying nutrition, and the nutrition info we get as consumers are created by the big money driven companies who make infant formula and kids cereals. They are the ones who funded design of our terrible “Food Guide Pyramid” which promotes eating many servings of cereal and breads each day.  They all have vested interest in marketing their highly processed junk foods & cereals to all populations, including children. And they don’t even discuss the “healthy fats” which are so critical.

From birth through 2 years of age, your infant should be getting 35-50% of calories from fat in his/her diet. This is roughly 6 Tablespoons of fats per day. 10-15% of calories from protein, and the rest from carbohydrates. Health problems such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, skin rashes, frequent colds, ear infections, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, can all be improved (and even prevented) using good nutrition.

About 35-50% of the calories in breastmilk come from fat, depending on the mother’s diet. Until 2 years of age, infants should continue to consume approximately the same amount of fat in order to thrive.

Healthy fats are incredibly important for their brain, neurological development, and organ & bone growth. Human studies show that infants under age 2 who consumed a low fat or fat restricted diet suffered from growth failure (height & weight).

Ideally, healthy fats should not be restricted until the child has finished growing (age 18?). While adults guidelines are to consume 30-40% calories from fat, an infant/child should consume 40-50% of calories from fat. It may seem like a lot, but it just takes a few servings of coconut/coconut oil, avocado, chicken, chicken liver, duck, fish/cod liver oil, olive oil, raw grass-fed organic ghee or butter (Grass fed contains CLA, vit A&D).

Vital Choice is a recommended source for fish & fish oil products.

Some parents may be concerned about excessive weight gain in children, but they should never restrict healthy fat consumption- it is critical for proper brain and nerve development in children. Problems with excessive weight gain are often related to excessive consumption of sugary junk foods, salty snacks, fried foods (unhealthy fats), and sweetened drinks and juices.

What are the healthy fats?
Here are 4 types of fats worthy of your attention. Make sure your child gets very high quality, unrefined, unprocessed, organic fats. They become the building blocks of her brain and organs.
Percent = ideal ratio for total fat intake:

  1. Saturates 40-50%: Coconut meat & coconut milk, cow milk (raw, grass fed) or goat milk, butter (grass fed), and fat from organic animal meat (grass fed).
  2. Omega 9 – 35%: avocados, chicken fat, duck fat, macadamia, olive, turkey fat.
  3. Omega 3 – 10+%: cod liver oil, fish oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts.
  4. Omega 6 – 10%: In most animal, fish, & vegetable fat, and highly concentrated in corn, safflower/sunflower oil, pumpkin & sesame seeds. Always buy organic as corn and soy are GMO crops.

Infants and children are typically deficient in Omega 3s these days, and increasing this amount can greatly help brain function and development, attention, concentration, learning, behavior, and IQ. (see Peer reviewed scientific research).  The recommended dose is 1/4 teaspoon per day of Cod Liver Oil for infants under 6 months, and then 1/2 tsp per day for 6-24 months, and 1 tsp or more for 2+yrs.