For the first time ever, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans now recommend foods for infants and toddlers up to age 2. As children progress from human milk, the new guidelines say that foods such as nuts, fish, and cow milk products are beneficial to the long-term development of children.
But perhaps the easiest and most crucial food listed in the guidelines is sitting prominently in your fridge already: eggs! Inside that shell, there is a powerful collection of nutrients that can help your child develop physically and mentally. These include choline, protein, iron, zinc, folate, vitamin A, vitamin B12, biotin, iodine, selenium, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Each one of these nutrients plays a vital role in your child’s diet, but choline is especially important for both children and pregnant mothers. Choline is responsible for a child’s brain health and development; however, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reports that 92% of pregnant women don’t consume the recommended amount of choline, and only 26% of pregnant women know what it is. Eggs are a fantastic way to include choline in your diet because you only need to eat two to reach half of the recommended daily choline intake.
When to introduce eggs and how to prepare them
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise that infants should receive only human milk for the first six months of their lives. After that, children can start eating nutrient-dense foods to complement human milk or feeding formulas, especially foods that are high in iron and zinc, including eggs. From a young age, you can start feeding eggs to children because they are rich in so many nutrients. Eating eggs early in life may also reduce the likelihood of egg allergies.
When you’re ready to start feeding your child eggs for the first time, start by mashing or scrambling the cooked eggs to avoid choking hazards. As your child grows and develops a more adventurous palate, you can experiment with more recipes, including burritos, omelets, egg sandwiches, egg pancakes, and egg casseroles.
Following a healthy diet pattern (which includes vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat dairy, and protein) can prevent obesity, diabetes, allergies, asthma, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Including eggs in your diet is just one small step in maintaining a healthy diet, but it’s a step that makes a significant difference.
Parents can help “make every bite count” as soon as their children are born. Every choice at each meal can make a difference in a child’s long-term health. As they grow older, children will remember the choices their parents made, giving them the blueprint to live a healthy lifestyle during adulthood.
You can check out more recipes and nutrition facts about eggs by visiting incredibleegg.org. This year, don’t forget to join the 12th annual B’More Healthy Expo virtually between March 15 and March 21.