Objectives: To examine the nutrient intakes, foods consumed, and feeding patterns of infants and toddlers participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
Design: Cross-sectional telephone survey, including 24-hour dietary recalls of infants' and toddlers' food and nutrient intakes, as reported by parents or other primary caregivers.
Subjects: National random sample of 3,022 children ages 4 to 24 months who participated in the 2002 Feeding Infants and Toddlers study. Sample sizes by age were infants 4 to 6 months: 265 WIC participants, 597 nonparticipants; infants 7 to 11 months: 351 WIC participants, 808 nonparticipants; and toddlers 12 to 24 months: 205 WIC participants, 791 nonparticipants.
Statistical analyses performed: We used Statistical Analysis Software (version 8.2) to examine the breastfeeding status, infant feeding patterns, and foods consumed; the personal computer version of the Software for Intake Distribution Estimation to estimate mean usual intake of food energy and of key nutrients targeted by the WIC program; and methods recommended by the Institute of Medicine to assess nutrient adequacy.
Results: Infants participating in WIC were less likely than nonparticipants to have ever been breastfed or to be currently breastfeeding, and they were more likely to be consuming formula. Mean usual nutrient intakes exceeded the adequate intake for WIC participants, and the percentage with inadequate nutrient intake was less than 1%. Reported mean energy intakes exceeded mean energy requirements, with the largest discrepancy observed for WIC participants. Sizeable proportions of WIC and non-WIC infants and toddlers did not consume fruits and vegetables on the recall day.
Applications: WIC providers should focus nutrition education on appropriate infant and toddler feeding patterns, should continue to reinforce their message of the importance delaying the use of cow's milk until 1 year of age, and should stress the importance of fruit and vegetable consumption.