Family Place™ Libraries acknowledge the role of parents and other caregivers as a child’s first true teacher, providing them with the information they need to be the best teacher they can be. By providing families a dedicated Parenting Collection and an extensive collection of children’s materials that families can explore, our libraries help your child get an early start gaining important literacy skills.
It is essential to provide your child with adequate nutrition during infancy and early childhood to ensure their growth, health and development reach their full potential. Nutrition provides the fuel that drives early brain growth and development. Beginning with pregnancy and throughout early childhood, proper nutrition provides the building blocks for developing your child’s cognitive abilities, motor skills, and socio-emotional skills. A healthy diet is essential for a young child to thrive. Good nutrition practices during early childhood can also help children develop healthy dietary patterns and establish lifelong eating habits. Children grow, learn and develop more successfully when they eat a variety of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, breads, cereal, yogurt, milk and meats.
Click here for some common questions and answers about feeding and nutrition.
The sections below share some guidance on feeding your little one as they grow.
Infants: Birth to One Year
- Give your baby milk. Milk is all your baby needs for the first six months. Breast milk is free, easily digested and helps build immunity. If breastfeeding is not an option, bottle feed your baby with an iron-fortified formula. Cow’s milk is not recommended for babies under one year old.
- Introduce complementary foods. Continue giving your baby milk while introducing infant cereals, vegetables, fruits and water. Mash or puree vegetables, fruits and other foods until they are smooth. You may start weaning your baby from bottles toward the end of their first year. Now it’s time to teach your baby how to use a cup.
For more information, check out this resource for food and drink and this list of nutritious recipes for baby. You can also use this resource to create an infant meal pattern for your baby.
Toddlers: One to Three Years
At this age, your child is more active and will begin to eat more solid foods. Offer a variety of foods from each food group with different colors, tastes and textures. You decide what food to offer, and your child will decide which foods to eat. How much your child eats depends on his or her appetite, which may change daily.
Here are some tips to try:
- Never force your child to eat foods. If your child dislikes something, offer it more often. This helps your child learn to slowly by introducing unwanted foods into meals.
- Share at least three meals and two healthy snacks each day. Let your child determine how much to eat at these opportunities.
- Offer new food options one at a time. Your child may need to try something ten or more times before he or she is ready to accept it.
- Let your child choose. Take your toddler shopping at the grocery store. Look at the fresh fruits and vegetables and pick a new one to try.
- Always cut up food. To avoid choking, cut food into small pieces and watch your child while he or she is eating.
For more information, check out this resource for servings and portions and this resource for recipe ideas.
Preschoolers: Three to Five Years
By this stage, your child should be able to feed himself or herself. Your child should be eating foods from each of the food groups. It’s very important that caregivers always offer different, healthy choices for children to eat to set a good example of healthy eating.
Here are some tips to try:
- Keep offering a variety of foods. Offer foods your child has previously rejected, but don’t force a child to eat. Ask them to try a bite. Your child may be willing to try it, especially if adults are eating the same thing.
- Set a good example. Eat a nutritious diet yourself. Set aside meals as family time and eat together as often as possible.
- Involve your child in meal preparation. Let your child plan the dinner menu. Involve your child in helping you cook, tear lettuce for a salad or set the table. Allow your child to smell, touch, taste and play with food.
- Place healthy snacks where your child can see them. Rinse and cut fruits and vegetables and store them on a refrigerator shelf within your child’s reach. Have snack-sized bags of nuts, cereal or granola bars. Occasional sweets are fine, but limit the availability of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.
- Avoid soda and sweetened drinks. Water and milk are the best choices for your child.
For more information, check out this resource for serving and portions and this resource for recipe ideas.
Here are just a few resources for additional information about nutrition available at the Plano Public Library.
- What To Feed Your Baby & Toddler: A Month-by-Month Guide to Support Your Child’s Health & Development by Nicole M. Avena
- First Bites: Homemade, Nourishing Recipes from Baby Spoonfuls to Toddler Treats by Leigh Ann Chatagnier
- Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes by Melanie Potock
- Born to Eat: Whole, Healthy Foods from Baby’s First Bite by Leslie Schilling and Wendy Jo Peterson
- Raising a Happy, Healthy Eater: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating by Nimali Fernando and Melanie Potock
- The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet by Karin Knight and Tina Ruggiero
- Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating: A Step-by-Step Guide for Overcoming Selective Eating, Food Aversion, and Feeding Disorders by Katja Rowell and Jenny McGlothlin
Other nutrition resources are available online.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Nutrition
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrition.gov: Nutrition by Age
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Lifecycle Nutrition