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guidelines on feeding babies

With so many foods being marketed to parents of babies, it can be hard to figure out what really is appropriate baby food.

That's why the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (which makes recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture) released its first-ever guidelines for infants and toddlers this week.

The big takeaway: No added sugar is best for little brains.


As CNN reports, apples, bananas and even breastmilk all have natural sugars in them, sugars that are good for babies' development. That's not what the committee is worried about. It is talking about added sugars in products like juices (which babies should not drink) and processed foods.

"Nutritional exposures during the first 1,000 days of life not only contribute to long-term health but also help shape taste preferences and food choices," the report states, adding that parents need to avoid foods and beverages with added sugars during the first 2 years of life," because adding sugars so early can be detrimental to a child's short and long-term health.

"The energy in such products is likely to displace energy from nutrient-dense foods, increasing the risk of nutrient inadequacies," the committee explains, urging parents to serve less sugar.

Research suggests that the average infant consumes a teaspoon of added sugar a day, and toddlers eat about six times as much added sugar.

According to the committee, these "early life nutritional exposures have emerged as an etiological risk factor associated with later-life chronic disease risk."

Parents often don't realize sugar might be served up, but it can sneak into our diets in foods like yogurt and cereal. It can also sneak into the rest of the family's diet.

The committee says about 70% "of added sugars intake comes from five food categories: sweetened beverages, desserts and sweet snacks, coffee and tea (with their additions), candy and sugars, and breakfast cereals and bars."

Bottom line: Babies don't need juice and cookies, and while a sweet coffee is fine for mama once in a while, we all ought to cut back on the refined sugars.

Here are some of our favorite products to make feeding babies and toddlers a little easier:

Yumi Starting Solids kit

Yumi starting solids kit

Leave menu making to the pros. Designed by nutritionists and pediatricians to be rich in nutrients and to support every critical stage during a little one's first 1,000 days, the Intro to Solids Kit from Yumi delivers 16 fresh, no sugar added organic meals directly to your door. They also provide a 15 minute consultation with a registered nutrition coach to answer any of your feeding questions!

$65

EKOBO bamboo baby feeding set

EKOBO bamboo baby feeding set

Minimalist and sustainable, we love this simple feeding set that comes with a pint-sized sippy cup, ergonomic spoon and bowl with non-slip base.

$22

Mary Meyer decco pup bib set

Mary Meyer decco pup bib set

Babies can manage to have sweet potatoes up to their hairline and still look adorable. But corralling the mess is a fine idea as well. These kerchief style bibs are great for mealtime but also the perfect drool catching teething accessory.

$18

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

They say necessity is the mother of invention—and nothing makes you more inventive than motherhood.

Sometimes that means fashioning a diaper out of paper towels and your older child's underpants (true story). Sometimes that means creating an innovative and life-changing weighted baby sleep sack and totally crushing it on Shark Tank. Tara Williams is the latter.

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

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As told to Liz Tenety.

Around the time my husband and I were turning 30, we had a genuine conversation about whether or not we wanted kids. I was the hesitant one because I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's just hold on. Okay, let's talk about this. Because we love our life. We like traveling. Is this what we want?"

My husband said, "Let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids whether or not it's worth it."

And every single one of them was like, "Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth."

So when I got pregnant, I was—and I'm not ashamed to say this and I don't think you should be—I was as connected with the baby in my belly as if it were a water bottle. I was like, I don't know you. I don't know what you are, but you can be some gas pain sometimes, but other than that, we're going to have to meet each other and suss this relationship out.

But all the cliches are true that you just know what to do when the baby comes out. Some of the times are hard, some of them are easier, but you just gotta use your gut.

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