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Ages & Stages

If you’re concerned about your child becoming obese, you might be tempted to feed her only low-fat solid foods to help keep her weight at normal levels. Here’s a very important recommendation to keep in mind—do not restrict your child’s consumption of dietary fat and calories in the first 2 years of life. In other words, don’t put a baby younger than 2 years on a diet or give her low-fat or skim milk.

Here’s why: the early months and years of your child’s life are critical for the normal development of her brain and body. Specifically, she’ll need calories from dietary fat for her brain to grow and mature normally.

As a general rule, your child should get about half of her daily calories from fat up to the age of 2 years. After that, you can reduce those fat calories gradually; by 4 to 5 years, fat calories should provide about one third of your youngster’s daily calories. Many families can be transitioned from whole cow’s milk to skim or fat-free milk by gradually changing from whole milk to 2%, then to 1%, and then to skim milk. Some mothers even mix these together to make the changes imperceptible to their children.

Whether you’ve decided to breastfeed or formula feed your baby, either choice should provide your baby with all the fat she needs. However, when preparing formula, be sure to follow the label instructions carefully, adding the recommended amount of water. Formula is designed to provide about 20 calories per ounce, including the proper amount of fat to ensure optimal growth. If you weaken or dilute the formula by adding too much water, you can interfere with your baby’s normal physical growth and brain development.

 

Last Updated
7/9/2014
Source
A Parent's Guide to Childhood Obesity: A Road Map to Health (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.