Dietary guidelines for children under 2 years of age in the context of nurturing care

Pérez-Escamilla, Rafael, Segura-Pérez, Sofia and Hall Moran, Victoria orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3165-4448 (2019) Dietary guidelines for children under 2 years of age in the context of nurturing care. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 15 (3). e12855. ISSN 1740-8695

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Dietary guidelines provide advice on what to eat to different subsets of the population but often do not take into account the “how” to eat. Responsive feeding is a key dimension of responsive parenting involving reciprocity between the child and caregiver during the feeding process and is characterized by caregiver guidance and recognition of the child's cues of hunger and satiety. Evidence indicates that providing responsive feeding guidance to mothers on how to recognize and respond appropriately to children's hunger and satiety cues can lead to improved feeding practices and weight status and developmental outcomes among infants and young children. In addition, early and nurturing exposures to foods with different tastes and textures and positive role modelling help children to learn to eat healthy foods. The importance of improving caregiver's responsive feeding behaviours to ensure the adequate introduction of complementary foods is becoming increasing recognized, but responsive feeding principles have not been taken into account in a comprehensive way in the development of dietary guidelines. The incorporation of all responsive feeding principles into dietary guidelines has a strong potential to enhance their impact on early childhood development outcomes for infants and young children but will require adaptation to the different contexts across countries to ensure that they are culturally sensitive and grounded in a deep understanding of the types of foods and other resources available to diverse communities.

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