Feeding an infant or toddler a varied, healthful diet is one of the most impor-
tant — and often most challenging — tasks of early parenting. The eating
behaviors children learn and adopt in infancy and as toddlers affect their
nutrition and health in childhood, adolescence and even into adulthood.
Good feeding involves a reciprocal relationship — in a sense, a dance between
child and parent. The research tells us that most parents and children learn
this dance well — and their children transition smoothly from breast and
bottle feeding to solid foods and a sound family diet. But an increasing num-
ber of parents and children falter — and their children make poor food choic-
es, eat beyond satiety and fill up on sweet drinks rather than healthy solids.
A multidisciplinary faculty convened a Pediatric Round Table supported by
an educational grant from the Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute, L.L.C.
to explore this most pressing public health issue of young children and feed-
ing. The faculty participants included pediatricians, researchers, policymak-
ers, social scientists, anthropologists, communications professionals and
academicians recognized globally for their work in child health, feeding,
nutrition and growth. The culmination of the Pediatric Round Table —
beyond the lively discussion, dialogue and debate that occur during the meet-
ing— is the development over 18 months and publication of this educational
book for health care providers and other child health professionals.
The overall objectives for the Pediatric Round Table were ambitious:
• To review current knowledge about how to promote the development of
healthy eating behaviors during the first 5 years of life
• To use state-of-the-art communication models and methods to develop a
plan for disseminating a public health message and guidance to promote
healthy eating from birth (and even before birth) to 5 years
Selecting and effectively communicating a set of evidence-based messages, for
healthcare and child care professionals, and ultimately for parents, was the
goal of the Pediatric Round Table.
A number of themes emerged from the discussion: