Every five years, updates and changes are made to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The new 2020-2025 guidelines provide advice on what to eat and drink to meet nutrient needs, promote health and prevent chronic illness. For the first time since 1985, this edition provides recommendations for infants and toddlers, as well as pregnant and nursing women.

At every life stage — infancy, toddlerhood, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy, nursing and older adulthood — it is never too early or too late to eat a balanced diet.

  • For about the first six months of life, exclusively feed infants human milk. Continue to feed infants human milk through at least the first year of life and longer if desired. Feed infants iron-fortified infant formula during the first year of life when human milk is unavailable. When exclusively breastfeeding, provide infants with supplemental vitamin D beginning soon after birth. Consult your child’s pediatrician for more guidance.
  • At about six months, introduce infants to nutrient-dense complementary foods. Introduce infants to potentially allergenic foods along with other complementary foods. Encourage infants and toddlers to consume a variety of foods from all food groups. Include foods rich in iron and zinc, particularly for infants fed human milk. Consult your child’s pediatrician for tips for progressing from pureed food to fork-mashed and on to finger foods and beyond.
  • From 12 months through older adulthood, follow a healthy dietary pattern across the lifespan to meet nutrient needs, achieve and maintain a healthy bodyweight, and reduce the risk of chronic illness.

What Has Changed?

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines are the first to break down specific dietary patterns and recommendations in different life stages.

There are four overarching guidelines:

  1. Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every stage of life.
  2. Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions and budgetary considerations.
  3. Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and stay within calorie limits.
  4. Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.

There are four key recommendations that support the guidelines:

  1. Limit saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2.
  2. Limit added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day for ages 2 and older, and  avoid added sugars altogether in infants and toddlers.
  3. Limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day (or even less if younger than 14 years old).
  4. Limit alcoholic beverages (if consumed) to two drinks or less per day for men and one drink or less per day for women. One drink is equal to 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, 12 ounces of beer and 5 ounces of wine.