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Development links with feeding

A new, free resource maps the connection between developmental stages and infant feeding.

An independent group of leading experts in child nutrition and development, the Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF), has launched a factsheet on Developmental Stages in Infant and Toddler Feeding. The factsheet is the first authoritative work to bring together the developmental milestones of infants and their relationship with food and feeding, influenced even during their time in the womb.

This useful guide aims to provide health and childcare professionals with an evidence-based description of the developmental stages observed around food and feeding in infants and young children. It makes the link between developmental milestones, such as motor skills and the importance they play in the development of an infant’s feeding habits and ability to eat and drink.

Gill Harris, Paediatric Clinical Psychologist and 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, such as milk-feeding, 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 health professionals when their child will attain feeding and drinking related skills and acquire preferences for particular foods. This factsheet aims to provide that knowledge to health and childcare professionals. They will then be better informed when discussing developmental milestones with parents.”

The factsheet offers an overview of the developmental stages in infants and is split into four sections, giving in-depth and illustrated advice on feeding babies and young children.

The four sections are:

  • skills related to feeding and eating
  • specific feeding skills
  • taste, texture and food preferences
  • appetite regulation

The Developmental Stages in Infant and Toddler Feeding Factsheet is now available for free.

The ITF website contains more information on health and development in the early years, including a regular newsletter.