Feeding Your Child For Lifelong Health: Birth Through Age Six


How the new science of "metabolic programming" can help you:

Maximize your baby's IQ and development

Prevent allergies and obesity

Prevent or cure picky eating

Teach your child to enjoy healthy foods

Protect against family health problems...

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Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health: Birth Through Age Six

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How the new science of "metabolic programming" can help you:

Maximize your baby's IQ and development

Prevent allergies and obesity

Prevent or cure picky eating

Teach your child to enjoy healthy foods

Protect against family health problems

AND make mealtimes a pleasure for you and your child!

In this groundbreaking book, two leading pediatric nutritionists--and experienced parents!--introduce exciting new research into "metabolic programming" and make it accessible and practical for every busy parent. They explain:

How the foods you choose can optimize your baby's future development, IQ bone strength, and immunity

The eight key nutrients to focus on

Scientifically based "smart strategies" for working with your child's inborn instincts to build healthy eating habits

Food solutions for common problems--including colic, constipation, poor sleep, and hyperactivity

How to prevent or deal with food allergies or obesity

Easy ways to adapt family meals for kids--with menus and portion sizes for every stage from birth through age six, plus essential tips for food safety

What's more, you can teach your child to enjoy these healthy foods and banish food battles and picky eating forever.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Considering all the pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo that passes for nutritional advice these days, I can't help being enthusiastic when a really good guide based on solid research shows up in bookstores...you can bet I'm going to recommend it to every parent I know. I'm talking about Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health...should be required reading for anyone with children under the age of six."
--Christine Gorman, Time magazine

"A very intelligent approach to the feeding of young children."
--T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., author of Touchpoints

"At last a book that not only tells parents what their children need to eat but provides a realistic and reassuring approach to how to feed them. This is a book every parent will want to have on their bedside--or kitchen--table."
--Annie Pleschette Murphy, Editor-at-Large, Parents magazine

"I have not seen another publication anywhere in the world that addresses this field in such a way. This book is truly brilliant...meticulously anchored in the science of nutrition, infant and young child behavior and development, and completely up-to-date. It is also full of warm, humanely written practical applications and guidance....An excellent guide for pregnant mothers, parents, health workers, nutritionists, nurses, physicians, and pediatricians."
--Graeme A. Clugston, M.B., Ph.D., Director, Nutrition for Health and Development, World Health Organization

"Heart disease begins in childhood--and so does a healthy way of eating. Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health shows why it's never too early--or too late--to discover the power and joy of healthy nutrition. This book may save your child's life."
--Dean Ornish, M.D., author of Love & Survival and Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease

"This book deserves to be read by every pregnant woman across America. It is a relief to find such evenhanded treatment of many controversial issues that trouble new parents and the practical, clearheaded guidance for every stage between birth and six years."
--Barbara J. Moore, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Shape Up America!

"A 'how-to' with the science to back it up, this comprehensive, innovative book is a godsend to those who want children to be healthy and appropriately nourished, through each developmental stage."
--M. Edward Keenan, M.D., Past President, American Academy of Pediatrics

Christine Gorman
Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health should be required reading for anyone with children under age six....[it] has the smartest take I've ever seen on the importance of variety in healthy eating.
TIME Online
Christine Gorman
Considering all the pseudoscientific mumbojumbo that passes for nutritional
advice these days, I can't help being enthusiastic when a really good guide
based on solid research shows up in bookstores. And when the subject of
that book is young children's nutritional needs--which are very different
from those of adults--you can bet I'm going to recommend it to every parent
I know. I'm talking about Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health (Bantam;
$15.95) by Susan Roberts, a nutrition researcher at Tufts University in
Boston, and Dr. Melvin Heyman, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the
University of California in San Francisco. Their book, which is available
starting this week, should be required reading for anyone with children
under age six.

Even the most diligent parents are likely to learn something about feeding
their kids. Paradoxically, as the authors explain, many families following
the latest nutritional
guidelines may actually be putting their children's health at risk. Why?
Because the reduced-fat, high-fiber diets that make sense for most adults
don't have enough of the
vitamins, minerals and other nutrients essential for growing bodies. "With
the current emphasis on eating less red meat and fewer eggs, it's virtually
impossible for kids to eat a
balanced diet," Roberts says. The two biggest gaps are iron and zinc. Kids
also aren't getting the calcium they need, in part because they're drinking
more soda and juice and less
milk than kids did 20 years ago.

It's best to get these and other nutrients from food. But they're so
important for proper development--even a short bout of mild anemia, for
example, can have permanent
effects on young brains--that Roberts and Heyman recommend daily
supplements (though not megavitamins) for kids at least up to age three.
And no, they didn't take money from the vitamin companies to make that

You're still going to find the emphasis on fruits and vegetables that
you'll get in any good book on nutrition. But there's plenty of practical
advice on how to make sure that
your kids actually eat their peas rather than just shoving them aside. One
tip: you may have to serve two-year-olds a new food frequently--as often as
15 times over several
months. As Roberts and Heyman explain, there's an evolutionary reason for
toddlers to be picky eaters: it cut down a tiny hunter-gatherer's chances
of food poisoning.Most important, don't trigger their natural rebellious
streak by letting on that you think the food is good for them.

Feeding Your Child also has the smartest take I've ever seen on the
importance of variety in healthy eating. Government guidelines stress the
consumption of many different foods.
But they never warn that this can work against you. Studies show that if a
plate contains two types of cookies, for instance, you'll eat more than if
only one kind is available.
The same is true for vegetables. Roberts and Heyman advise parents that if
they must keep cookies in the house, they should stick to one brand and
save the variety for healthier
foods. As with anything having to do with children, it takes a little
planning and a lot of patience to make sure they eat right. But the results
are worth it.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Tufts nutrition professor Roberts and pediatrician Heyman offer their approach to childhood nutrition in a practical, easy-to-use guide suited for any parent with children under six years old. Pointing to the importance of "metabolic programming" food's effect on intelligence, personality, immunity, strength, etc., the authors argue that how a child eats is as important as what a child eats in preventing obesity, allergies and childhood cancers. Focusing on eight key nutrients fat, fiber, calories, iron, calcium, zinc, folate, antioxidants for optimal health, the authors offer a variety of age-specific sample menus and caloric requirements, height and weight charts, healthful recipes and answers to frequently asked nutrition questions. Roberts and Heyman dispel misconceptions that supplements are unnecessary for young children and the possible false link between sugar and hyperactivity and suggest what foods are to be avoided and why. Through the use of their age-appropriate, low-key behavioral techniques--which emphasize the importance of good parent role-modeling, on-demand feeding, the potential need to introduce unpopular foods repeatedly and the ability to use a child's natural eating instincts--the authors make pleasurable and healthy mealtimes for the family attainable. Aug. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A clear, up-to-date, practical guide to nutritional needs and issues from birth to age six; this is refreshingly free of hackneyed medical advice and conventional wisdom. Roberts brings to bear the fields of nutrition and psychiatry (which he teaches at Tufts); Heyman is a pediatric gastroenterologist. It's well worth the effort to start children off on the right nutritional foot, they say, according to the theory of "metabolic programming," i.e., "foods eaten in childhood can have lasting effects on the way your child's body grows and functions." Roberts and Heyman interweave their explanations of nutrient requirements for physical growth with what we know about the psychological and evolutionary basis of why children eat the way they do—thus providing a framework for creating realistic solutions when eating problems arise. The authors organize their material by age and development level, and then look at food solutions to common problems (how and when to increase the variety of foods, how to balance the nutritional needs of a family with parents in their 30s who have a 10-year-old, a 6-year-old, and a 2-month-old). A wealth of up-to-date information, coupled with innovative solutions to common problems.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553378924
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 372
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., is Chief of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging and Professor of Nutrition and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University. She is an internationally recognized expert on infant and adult nutrition, with research publications on topics including infant nutrient requirements, infant and adult obesity, breast-feeding, nutritional needs of premature infants, and nutrition and aging.

Melvin B. Heyman, M.D., M.P.H., is Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the University of California in San Francisco, where he directs an active clinical program. He also directs a research and training program focusing on nutritional treatment of acute and chronic diseases, childhood nutritional requirements, and food allergies.

Lisa Tracy is an editor with The Philadelphia Inquirer and the author of two previous nutrition books.

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Read an Excerpt

The Power of Food in Your Child's Life

Chapter 1: Metabolic Programming--What It Is, and What It Can Do for Your Child

With her baby due in three weeks, a mother-to-be visited her local supermarket to buy some diapers and check out the baby food aisle. What an excitement-and a shock-it was. Those rows of jars, packets, and cans made impending motherhood seem so real! But she had thought she was ready to feed her baby, and here was a whole world of new decisions to make. She wouldn't be using formula at first, but which of the sixteen kinds (some costing three times as much as others) would be right for later? And would she need any of these other items? The pear juice in tiny bottles looked delicious, but wasn't her niece's tummy pain traced to an allergy to baby juice? Should fluoridated spring water go on the shopping list? And those jars of nutrient-packed spinach? Could she really get her baby to like something she hated? Should she even try?

This book began in that moment six years ago, when I was that excited and puzzled mother-to-be. As a nutrition researcher, I have spent twenty years studying the importance of healthy food at all stages of life. But it was only when I became a mother that I realized how much parents needed the information we were discovering. Studies from my own laboratory and others around the world had taught me that, contrary to the advice in the parenting books in my house, the foods my daughter would eat during the first months and years of life would have long-lasting-and in some cases permanent-effects. I knew that nutrition was not the whole story, of course. But it would make an important difference in virtually everything, from her mental and physical development to her vitality, personality, and health from childhood through old age. The way I behaved about her food would be critical, too, preventing difficult eating behavior in the short term and lifelong struggles with disorders such as obesity and anorexia. With this valuable knowledge as my guide, I began helping my daughter learn to enjoy the foods best for her development and health, a rewarding and joyful task that continues with her entry into kindergarten.

My first insight into the power of childhood food came some years ago when I worked with a research team in a village in West Africa. At first I was surprised to see no children who looked malnourished: They all seemed fine-and were extremely well behaved! It was only after I started studying them that I realized they were permanently stunted due to a lack of good food. Their quiet behavior stemmed not from superior discipline techniques (as I had first supposed) but from inadequate nutrition that left them without the vitality and exuberance of well-nourished children. Even worse, their lack of normal exploratory behavior was preventing them from learning all the things that children need to learn if they are not to be left behind in a fast-paced world.

Later, when my research moved to Cambridge University in England and subsequently to Tufts University in Boston, I realized that my observations in Africa were only the tip of the iceberg. Research from my laboratory and others was showing that even in affluent countries such as the United States, good childhood nutrition is not what many pediatricians and concerned parents currently think it is. Yet it can make the difference of a lifetime, conferring long-term, even permanent advantages in mental and physical development and health.

While my experience on three continents was teaching me about the importance of childhood nutrition, my partner in this book, pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Melvin Heyman, was having similar revelations in his nutrition clinic at the University of California at San Francisco. Mel had also observed that poor childhood nutrition was not confined to families struggling to make ends meet. Affluent, well-educated families were also vulnerable, even to problems such as the nutritional stunting I had seen in Africa. This was obviously not for lack of money or even for lack of concern, but sometimes because the families were eating extremely low-fat, whole-food diets that were healthy for the parents but contained the wrong nutrients to allow for normal childhood growth.

Raising our own children and spending time with other families, we also saw that knowing what to feed your child is not enough. How children are fed is as important as what goes on the table-because food counts only if it's eaten! Children can often seem difficult when it comes to food, but there are actually good reasons why they think and behave the way they do-reasons grounded in the normal psychology and biological programming of childhood. By learning how to work with, rather than against, our children's natural instincts, we can reduce feeding conflicts while at the same time teaching a lifelong enjoyment of healthy foods.

Combining our insight into childhood psychology with the latest research on childhood nutrition, we saw we could point the way to a whole new approach to feeding children-one that would make parents' lives easier while ensuring that their children reach their full potential in development and health. This book was born out of our desire to share that knowledge with other parents and health professionals, and to give every child the benefits that an enjoyment of healthy foods can bring.


Behind the big eyes that scan your face and the tiny hand that grasps your finger, an event known as metabolic programming is unfolding in your child. Metabolic programming is the new term being used to describe the fact that foods eaten in childhood can have lasting effects on the way your child's body grows and functions.

How do foods consumed early in life exert effects beyond the short time they are physically present in your child's body? Scientists believe that metabolic programming happens in part because growth and cell division in many parts of the body occur only in childhood. During this time individual cells are sensitive to the availability of nutrients-in other words, the body's basic building materials.

We now know that each organ, tissue, and nerve cell within the body develops in its own unique window of time, in response to a complex set of biological signals arising from the body's DNA. The nutrients physically present at this crucial time for cell division and growth help determine which cell types become predominant within each tissue. The same nutrients also influence how large or small each cell within the different body components ultimately becomes, and how efficiently and well it functions in the future. And because organ and tissue functions determine such essential body processes as hormone production and enzyme activity, alterations in normal development can have far-reaching effects. Once the cells' period of sensitivity to growth signals has passed, the function of each individual cell is largely fixed. In other words, it has been metabolically programmed by the food your baby, toddler, or preschooler was eating during that cell's growth spurt.

Six Myths About Feeding Children

Myth: Left to his own devices, your child will select a nutritionally balanced diet.

Reality: Parents need to help their children learn to enjoy foods that promote long-term development and health.

Myth: What is healthy for you is healthy for your child.

Reality: Children are not small adults when it comes to food. Although they can eat many of the same foods you do, the proportion needs to be quite different to ensure that their very different nutritional needs are adequately met. Higher needs for fat and lower needs for fiber are just two of the many ways your child's nutritional requirements differ from yours.

Myth: Colic can't be treated by changing what your baby eats.

Reality: As many as 25 percent of colic cases can be improved or even cured by changing a baby's diet. This is true even for breast-fed babies, when it is the mother who makes the dietary changes.

Myth: Children need many more calories, pound for pound, than adults.

Reality: Children do need more calories than adults when their small size is taken into account, but actual caloric needs are much less than the current RDAs--which have recently been described as "a prescription for overfeeding."

Myth: If you delay weaning onto solid foods, you will prevent your child from becoming overweight.

Reality: Late weaning can actually compound a tendency to gain too much weight.

Myth: Vitamin supplements are not needed by children gaining weight normally.

Reality: Weight and height are only two indicators of healthy growth. More than 50 percent of American children under the age of three years do not get the recommended amounts of for several essential nutrients without a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement.

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