We all want our children to be as healthy and happy as possible. We also know that childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels in this country, and that lifestyle changes and dietary changes are important if we’re going to give our baby the best chance of living a healthy life within a normal weight range. Accordingly, one of the areas that parents are often concerned about in regard to their children’s health is their fat intake.

That being said, you don’t really need to restrict or monitor the fat in your baby’s food for the first couple of years. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that you wait until two years of age before doing any restriction. In those early developmental months, fat is an important energy source for your baby. He’s growing at a rapid rate, and he needs that stored energy to continue to do so. Add in the fact that your baby’s brain is comprised mostly of fat cells, it’s a necessity for the development of the brain, as well.

During the first few months of life, your baby gets plenty of fat by way of formula or breast milk. When your baby is ready to eat solid foods, she will be able to consume dairy products that contain plenty of fat, such as cheese and yogurts. Even if you have low-fat cheese or yogurt for the rest of the family (and you probably should) you shouldn’t hold back for baby.

You’ll also want to hold back on giving your baby whole milk right away. Your baby should drink formula or breast milk pretty much for that first year.

Once your baby turns two years old, you can start to watch the fat in her diet. You can switch out to low-fat milk and dairy. Still, you won’t really need to get serious about it until the age of five, when you’ll want to make sure that fat makes up no more than about a third of calories.

Do limit excessive salt and sugars for your baby, as these are more likely culprits in long-term weight issues for your baby than fat intake, at least in those first couple of years.