Early childhood represents a critical period in which a child’s brain undergoes rapid brain development and is critical to later health and wellbeing. During this time, infants and young children have especially high needs, both for energy and key essential nutrients, when compared to older children and adults. Yet feeding and nutrition guidelines for infants and toddlers during this crucial developmental window remain poorly understood, explained in part by the major changes with regard to infant and toddler feeding practices in the past century.
Therefore, the specific focus of this project is understanding how feeding patterns (including breastfeeding, cow’s milk, and formula) in the first two years of life are associated with toddler cognitive development at 24 months of age. In particular, the research will focus on key nutrients recently identified as crucial for healthy development and function, but which are currently limited in toddler diets and guidelines. The study has clinical and public health implications for toddler nutrition and will help inform and clarify current toddler feeding guidelines in order to improve the health and development of Canadian children.