Parents can make every bite count by feeding eggs as a fundamental first food
CHICAGO — One of the best foods for a baby’s healthy brain development is already in most refrigerators: eggs.
In an historic first, the newly released 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued by the USDA include recommendations for birth to 24 months old and specifically recommend eggs as an important first food for infants and toddlers, as well as for pregnant women and lactating moms.
The new guidelines substantiate that eggs — long known to be a vital source of nutrients for people of all ages — provide several key nutrients important for babies during the time in which their brains are most rapidly developing. Notably, the Guidelines highlight the importance of choline, a nutrient plentiful in eggs, while recommending eggs as a first food for babies to reduce risk for an egg allergy.
“The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans confirm what the science has shown: eggs provide critical nutritional support for brain health, and they play a crucial role in infant development and prenatal health,” said Emily Metz, president and CEO of the American Egg Board. “With 90 percent of brain growth happening before kindergarten, eggs help make every bite count, especially when babies are just being introduced to solid foods.”
As a fundamental first food for babies, eggs are one of the most concentrated sources of choline, a nutrient that has now been recognized as important for brain health, AEB added. Just one large egg provides the daily choline needs for babies and toddlers, and two large eggs provide more than half of daily choline needs for pregnant moms. Additionally, early introduction of eggs (between 4-6 months of age and when a baby is developmentally ready) may also help reduce the risk of developing an egg allergy.
“As a nutrition scientist and a dad, I know this is important news for parents,” said Dr. Mickey Rubin, executive director of the American Egg Board’s Egg Nutrition Center. “Choline is a nutrient under-consumed by all Americans, and the guidelines recommend eggs as a notable source of choline to support brain health and development during pregnancy. Additionally, establishing healthy eating patterns from the start ensures children’s growing bodies and brains get the nutrition they need. Eggs are a fundamental food in these early years because they provide a unique nutrient package.”
Eggs: Good for baby — and the rest of us, too
AEB added that eggs qualify for all three healthy eating patterns recommended in the new guidelines, and the guidelines also affirm that eggs, as a nutrient-dense food, can contribute to the health and well-being of Americans of all ages in several ways, including:
- Important nutrients for teenagers: The guidelines encourage eggs for pre-teens and adolescents, especially girls, because of the protein and choline they provide.
- Muscle repair and bone health: The high-quality protein in eggs helps maintain and repair muscle while supporting bone health.
- B12 for older adults: Older adults are at nutritional risk for not getting enough protein and vitamin B12, which eggs provide as a good source.
- Natural source of vitamin D: Americans do not get enough vitamin D, for which eggs, as one of the few natural food sources, provide 6 percent of the daily recommendation.
Learn more about how eggs, as a nutrient-dense food, support babies’ healthy brain development and contribute to health and well-being at every age and life stage. Find family-friendly recipes and advice about introducing eggs to your youngest family members at www.EggNutritionCenter.org.