Ask Dr. Marla: Do nutrition label recommendations apply to babies?

By Dr. Marla Shapiro on November 01, 2011

Question:

Nutrition labels are usually based on 2,000- calorie-a-day diets. Is this true for the labels on baby food? Should I be dividing the amounts by two for my three year-old (who should eat 1,000 calories a day) and by four for my one year- old (who should eat 500 calories a day)?

Answer:

The levels on labels of infant and toddler food are adjusted. While this is a great question, I don’t think it is practical or necessary to focus on calorie count in your children nor should you make decisions based on calorie counts alone. 

By eating the right amount and type of food recommended in Canada’s Food Guide, children can get the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. As parents we are responsible for the content, timing and location of the meals. We offer a serving size but the child is responsible for how much he or she consumes. 

Children are active and appetites can also vary with level of activity. For example, your three-your-old would be recommended to have four servings of vegetables and fruits a day, three grain servings, two milk and alternatives servings, one meat and alternative servings and 30 ml of fat. Because young children have small stomachs, they might need to eat small amounts of food more often throughout the day. One serving can be divided up into smaller amounts and served throughout the day. For example, half a Food Guide serving of meat and alternatives can be served at two different meals such as one egg at lunch and about 30 g (1 oz.) of chicken for dinner.

By Dr. Marla Shapiro| November 01, 2011

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