The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), published every 5 years, review existing evidence and distill it into recommendations for sound nutrition. The Agricultural Act of 2014 mandated that the next edition of the DGA include recommendations aimed at the infant from birth to 24 months old. Recognizing the close relationship between fetal development and lifelong health, maternal nutrition during pregnancy was also included in the directive. This is a unique stage of life, characterized not only by specific nutritional requirements but also by rapidly changing sources of nutrition. High energy needs, rapid growth, and neural expansion, as well as fundamental cognitive, motor, and social-emotional development, depend on a high-quality diet for optimal outcomes. By the age of 2 to 3 years, the child will have acquired the type of stable eating habits and food preferences that together comprise what the DGA 2015-2020 described as a dietary pattern; that is, they are consuming foods and beverages in a routine that tends to persist over time. Initial exposure to foods and flavors that will culminate in personal food preferences represents an opportunity to establish a strong foundation for a child’s lifelong nutrition. Taking advantage of this opportunity will hinge on the translation of nutrition science into practical parenting guidance for a heterogeneous, culturally diverse US population. This article will examine some of the many influences that shape a child’s initial eating pattern.