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Help in Selecting a Child's Foods : Parents' Guide to Nutrition: Healthy Eating From Birth Through Adolescence, executive editor David Estridge (Addison Weekly: paperback $9.95)

February 25, 1988|ROSELLE M. LEWIS

Despite the oceans of nutritional information available today, people seem all at sea in deciding on a diet that's proper for a particular age group, activity level or medical need. A publication of the Health Information Department of Boston's Children's Hospital, this answer-all-your-questions guide sets the reader on course as it charts the best nutrition for children, from birth through late adolescence.

In a nutshell, the authors say, if you choose foods listed on the Recommended Dietary Allowance list (the RDA, put out by the National Academy of Sciences), you won't go wrong. Because children will get the right amount of protein, fats and carbohydrates, they won't, except under special circumstances, require vitamin and mineral supplements, the book says.

Brief chapters recommend mothers' milk, but not to worry about the use of commercial formulas, which are just about as nutritious; besides, no one has proved that a bottle-fed baby turns out any the worse. Handle picky eaters by fixing palate-pleasing dishes, and don't panic when teen-agers dine occasionally at fast-food joints. "Junk food" is a misnomer because all foods contain nutrition, the guide says.

Absolutely avoid a strict "veggie"-only diet for growing children because the lack of body-building protein often causes serious medical problems, the authors write.

Finally, watch out for the vaunted claims of "health foods." According to "Parents Guide," that ballyhooed sea kelp, bee pollen, ginseng, even down-home blackstrap molasses, may prove dangerous to health.

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