Feeding Your Baby

Food for baby's first year - Ages and stages of development

  • Provide breast milk for the first two years and beyond.
  • Respond to your baby's cues.

What to feed your baby

  • Breast milk + vitamin D.
  • Provide 10μg (400 IU) vitamin D supplement every day in addition to breast milk.

How and why

  • Breast milk is the only food that your baby needs for the first 6 months. It provides just the right amount and type of nutrients.
  • Breast milk helps protect your baby from infection and disease.
  • Vitamin D helps build strong bones and teeth.
  • If your baby is hungrier at any time before 6 months of age, baby may be having a growth spurt. Extra breast milk will meet baby’s needs.
  • Your baby does not need water or juice.
  • There are risks to introducing solid food too early.

Start iron-rich solid food when your baby:

  • Can sit and lean forward and backward
  • Holds his head up and turns towards or away from food
  • Follows food with his eyes
  • Opens his mouth wide when offered food

What to feed your baby

  • Offer iron-rich foods such as beef, lamb, game, poultry, fish, meat alternatives such as cooked whole egg, tofu, well-cooked legumes including beans and lentils and iron-fortified infant cereal. 
  • Provide a variety of soft textures such as lumpy, tender cooked and finely minced, puréed, mashed or ground as well as finger foods. 

How and why

  • Your baby needs iron and extra energy from solids.
  • Your baby learns to move food to back of the mouth with his tongue and swallow.
  • Keep feeding positive. Do not force your baby to eat.
  • Increase iron-rich foods until they are offered two or more times each day from age six to 12 months
  • Continue with iron-rich foods as you introduce other new foods. If your baby refuses iron-rich foods, discuss an iron supplement with your doctor.
  • You decide whether to offer solid food or breast milk first to your baby.
  • New foods can be given in any order.
  • Increase texture and variety of foods, following your baby’s cues.
  • Offer solid foods at two to three meals and one or two snacks each day.

What to feed your baby

  • Offer soft cooked vegetables – grated, mashed, pureed or soft pieces of squash, peas, carrots sweet potatoes, broccoli and other vegetables.
  • Offer soft ripe fruit or soft cooked pieces of fruit such as banana, apple, pear and melon.
  • Offer milk products such as yogurt, grated or small pieces of cheese or cottage cheese.
  • Offer finger foods such as ground or minced cooked meat, fish or poultry; bread crusts or toast strips; and pasta.

How and why

  • Offer a variety of foods to introduce new flavours, textures and nutrients .
  • Vitamin C from vegetables and fruit helps your baby absorb iron from cereal and meat alternatives.
  • Continue to offer single grain cereals such as oat and wheat before offering mixed-grain cereals or cereals that contain milk products.
  • Your baby can sip small amounts of water from an open cup.
  • Your baby does not need juice. If you offer juice, limit the amount to 125 mL (4 ounces) of 100% fruit or vegetable juice per day.  Do not offer sweetened drinks.
  • Allow your baby to feed herself with fingers or a spoon.
  • Offer lumpy textures by nine months.
  • From nine to 11 months offer your baby three meals and one or two snacks.
  • From 12 to 24 months offer your child meals and snacks every 2 ½ to three hours.

What to feed your baby

  • If you offer cow milk, serve homgenized (3.25% Milk Fat) milk in an open cup.
  • Offer a variety of foods from Canada’s Food Guide.
  • Provide healthy fats such as soft margarine, nut or seed butter, vegetable oil, fatty fish and avocado.

How and why

  • Wait until your baby is 9 to 12 months old to give cow milk.  Cow milk is low in iron.
  • Healthy higher fat foods are an important source of energy for your baby. 
  • Honey can make your baby sick.  Wait until 12 months to offer honey or foods that contain honey. 
  • Be a good role model for your baby.
  • Include your baby in family meals.

Tips for feeding your baby

  • Feed your baby using a small spoon. Adding cereal or other solids to a bottle can make your baby choke.
  • Always watch your baby eat. Your baby should sit to eat.  Let your baby focus on eating without distractions such as TV.
  • Common allergens include: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, mustard, sulphites, fish and shellfish.  Introduce these foods at six months, one at a time, two days apart.  You should introduce these foods early and serve them often.  Allergies are not prevented if you delay serving these foods. With other foods, such as vegetables and fruits, you do not need to wait before introducing another new food.
  • If an allergic reaction such as diarrhea, rash, itchy skin, swelling or difficulty breathing occurs, call your doctor or call 911 if it is an emergency.
  • If your baby refuses a new food, it is OK. Do not force your baby to eat.  Throw the food away and try again in a few days. Do not force your baby to eat. It can take many tries before a baby accepts a new food.
  • Cook all meat, eggs, poultry and fish well to prevent foodborne illness.  Do not use products with raw eggs.  Do not give unpasteurized milk, milk products or juice to your baby.
  • To protect your baby from choking, do not feed your baby whole nuts, popcorn, gummy candies, marshmallows, hard candy or fish with bones to your baby.  Cut round food such as hot dogs into thin strips, remove pits from fruit, cook hard vegetables and fruit until soft, spread sticky foods such as peanut butter thinly on toast instead of soft bread.
  • Give your baby food without added salt, sugar, honey or other sweeteners.
  • Do not give your baby herbal tea, sports drinks or other drinks with caffeine or sweeteners.

Starting solids

  • Start with 5 to 15 mL (1 to 3 tsp) of iron-rich purée once per day, increasing the amount and then offering twice per day.
  • Gradually add new foods until your baby is eating a variety of foods.

Drinking from cups

Allow your baby to drink from an open cup.  An open cup:

  • Reduces the risk of dental cavities
  • Keeps your baby from getting too many calories
  • Helps your baby develop drinking skills

At first your baby will need help drinking from an open cup, but he will quickly learn to hold the cup and sip from it.  Start with water because it is easy to clean up.

How much should babies eat

Your baby knows best how much to eat. Watch for signs of hunger and fullness from your baby.

  • Allow him to eat at his own pace.
  • Stop when your baby turns her head away or closes her lips to show she has had enough food.  Offer more if your baby still seems hungry.
  • During the first year, it is important to feed your baby when he wants to eat. Offer food when he is wide-awake and calm, before he starts to cry from hunger.

Sample menu for a 7-month-old baby

Offer more or less food, responding to your baby’s cues.

Early Morning

  • Breast milk on cue and throughout the day when baby is hungry

Morning

  • Breast milk
  • Iron-fortified infant cereal
  • Mashed/small pieces ripe banana

Snack

  • Whole grain toast cut into narrow strips spread with a very thin layer of peanut butter

Mid-day

  • Breast milk
  • Iron-fortified infant cereal
  • Scrambled egg
  • Cooked (mashed if preferred) peas or another vegetable

Snack

  • Unsweetened applesauce or another fruit

Early evening

  • Breast milk
  • Ground or finely minced beef or other meat
  • Soft cooked vegetable such as winter squash

Evening and Night time

  • Breast milk on cue

 

Contact us

For more information: