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J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Jan;104(1 Suppl 1):s65-70.

Meal and snack patterns of infants and toddlers.

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  • 1Nutrition Department, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA.



To describe meal and snack patterns of infants and toddlers.


A cross-sectional telephone survey in which mothers reported their infants' and toddlers' food and beverage intakes for a 24-hour period.


Subjects included 3,022 infants and toddlers, ages 4 to 24 months, in the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study.


Means+/-standard deviations, frequencies, percentages, energy and nutrient analyses, nutrient densities.


On average, infants and toddlers were fed seven times per day. The breakfast, lunch, and dinner pattern, plus snacks, emerged at 7 to 8 months and was well established by 9 to 11 months. Breakfasts were higher in nutrient density for iron, folate, and calcium than other meals. The percentage of children reported to be eating snacks increased with age. The afternoon snack was consumed by over 80% of toddlers (12 to 24 months), and snacks provided about 25% of toddlers' daily energy intakes. Typical snack foods for toddlers were milk, water, cookies, crackers, chips, and fruit drinks.


Results of this study provide parents and professionals with specific information about meal and snack patterns, thereby allowing development of targeted messages and/or strategies to improve the dietary patterns of infants and toddlers. Although most foods provided to the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study infants and toddlers were nutritionally and developmentally appropriate, snack choices could be improved by delaying introduction of and limiting exposures to foods low in nutrients and high in calories.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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