Nutrient intakes of infants and toddlers

J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Jan;104(1 Suppl 1):s14-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2003.10.022.


Objectives: To assess the nutrient adequacy of the diets of US infants and toddlers 4 to 24 months of age.

Design: Descriptive analysis of the usual nutrient intakes of infants and toddlers using 24-hour recall data from the 2002 Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study.

Subjects: A national random sample of 3,022 infants and toddlers, with 2 days of recall available for 703 sample members. Sample sizes by age were: infants 4 to 6 months (n=862), infants 7 to 11 months (n=1,162), and toddlers 12 to 24 months (n=998).

Statistical analyses performed: Using the personal computer version of the Software for Intake Distribution Estimation, we estimated (where applicable) the percentage of infants and toddlers with usual intakes below the estimated average requirement, compared the means of usual nutrient intake distributions with adequate intake levels, and compared the 99th percentile of usual intake distributions with tolerable upper intake levels.

Results: For infants under 12 months of age, mean usual intakes exceeded the adequate intake for all nutrients. For toddlers 12 to 24 months of age, the estimated prevalence of inadequacy was low for most nutrients; however, 58% of toddlers had usual vitamin E intakes less than the estimated average requirement. Mean energy intake exceeded the estimated energy requirement by 10% for infants 4 to 6 months, 23% for infants 7 to 12 months, and 31% for toddlers 12 to 24 months of age. The discrepancy between mean energy intake and the estimated energy requirement for infants 4 to 6 months of age was larger for infants fed solids than for infants consuming only breast milk or formula. Fiber intakes of toddlers were below the adequate intake.

Applications: Studies should examine whether parents overreport foods consumed by infants and toddlers, and whether infants and toddlers are consuming more energy than required. Additional research is indicated to substantiate some of the new Dietary Reference Intakes for infants and children 1 to 3 years of age.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Eating
  • Energy Intake
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Software
  • United States


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Micronutrients