Nutritional guidance for infants and toddlers is lacking, and the diets of American children in the first 2 years of life are not well characterized.
Cross-sectional data from the NHANES were used to describe the diets of 0- to 23-month-olds in the United States. Participants with complete dietary data were eligible for the analysis (N = 2359). Linear regression models were constructed to identify changes from 2005 to 2008 and from 2009 to 2012 in food and beverage consumption, both overall and within sociodemographic groups.
We observed several trends toward meeting early-feeding recommendations, such as a decline in the prevalence of complementary feeding among 0- to 5-month-olds. However, the prevalence of vegetable consumption was consistently lower than desired (∼25% of 6- to 11-month-olds and 20% of 12- to 23-month-olds had no reported vegetable consumption on dietary recall days in the 2009–2012 set). Subgroup analyses revealed that some trends were limited to certain populations (eg, a decline in juice consumption was observed among 6- to 11-month-old non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks but not among Mexican Americans), and additional trends emerged within groups (eg, the prevalence of breast milk consumption declined among 0- to 5-month-old Mexican Americans).
Although there have been some improvements in the diets of 0- to 23-month-olds in recent years, there are areas in which this population continues to fall short of current recommendations. This underscores the need for additional policy guidance for providers and education for parents and caretakers on helping infants and toddlers achieve healthy diets.