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.


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Further Reading

  • Vegetarian and vegan diets have become increasingly popular over the past few years, with more and more parents raising their children on a plant-based diet. Toddlers have high-energy needs and small stomachs, so it is important parents know how to ensure their child gets all the nutrients needed for healthy growth and development. The Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help with practical tips and advice for parents considering a vegetarian or vegan diet for their toddler.
  • Encouraging toddlers to keep physically active will help them to develop movement skills, stay a healthy weight and keep a healthy heart. No matter the weather, we have fun activities which will keep your toddler active and entertained this Easter!
  • Pregnant women are given lots of advice surrounding healthy eating and lifestyle, but this is often based on old or outdated information. There are so many myths and misconceptions floating around that it can be difficult for mums-to-be to tell fact from fiction. Here are our tips and guidance, so you can feel confident about having a healthy pregnancy.