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Feeding Your Baby in the First Year

Breastmilk is the only food or drink that babies need for the first 6 months of life. Babies also need a vitamin D supplement for proper bone growth and to prevent rickets. Breastfeeding is recommended for up to 2 years and beyond.

If you have made an informed choice to feed your baby formula, this formula feeding resource has accurate information on feeding formula to your baby in a safe way.

Please note: This resource says that babies who are not breastfed may have health risks like being overweight and obese. At the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, we don’t endorse messages that link body weight to health. A focus on weight can lead to weight bias and poor health. Shifting our focus from weight to wellness can lead to good overall health. For babies, this means looking at: feeding cues, latch, number of wet and dirty diapers, growth and development, and helping to promote a healthy attachment. For children, youth and adults, it means eating well, being active and taking care of mental wellbeing. Our goal is that people of all shapes and sizes make healthy living a part of their daily lives.

At 6 months of age, breastmilk is still the most important food for you baby; but, the time has come to introduce solid foods. As babies approach 6 months, they will start to show the signs that they are ready for solid foods:

  • Better head control
  • Can sit up without support and lean forward
  • Can let you know when they are hungry (For example: put food in mouth) and full (For example: turn head away)
  • Can move tongue back and forth, and side to side
  • Can open their mouth for a spoon, and can reach for, pick up and put food to their mouth

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When your baby is around 6 months old and regularly shows the signs of readiness, start to offer iron-rich solid foods.

Some examples of iron-rich foods are:

  • Beef, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), iron-fortified baby cereal

When your baby is eating iron-rich foods twice a day, start to introduce a variety of new foods (vegetables, fruit, meat, most grains, and milk products – like cheese, yogurt) in any order.

Offer food in a variety of different textures (ground, minced, mashed, pureed and shredded) matched to the skills of your baby. Offer soft finger foods to help you baby learn how to feed themselves.

Try making your own homemade baby food. It is less expensive, helps your baby get used to different tastes and textures, and you are in control of what is added to your baby’s food!

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Offer common food allergens (eggs, milk, mustard, peanuts, seafood, sesame, soy, tree nuts and wheat) starting at around 6 months of age, regardless of family history of allergy. Offer these foods 1 at a time, with a 2 day wait before introducing another common food allergen.

Babies can only eat a small amount when they first start eating solids. Let your baby’s cues tell you how much food to offer. Babies know how much they need to eat. Pay attention to and learn to follow your baby’s hunger and fullness cues. Check out the Trust Me, Trust My Tummy video.

Delay offering fluid cow’s milk until your baby is at least 9–12 months old and eating a variety of iron-rich foods. At this time, you can start to offer full-fat (3.25% M.F.), homogenized cow’s milk.

Delay honey until after your baby is 1 year old to avoid the risk of infant botulism.

Offer your baby fish that are low in mercury, such as salmon, char or trout.

Be aware of choking risks: Always supervise your baby and make sure they are sitting upright and free from distraction when eating and drinking.

  • Don’t offer hard, small and round, or smooth and sticky foods.
  • Children under 4 years old should not be offered popcorn, whole nuts and seeds, hard candies, gum, marshmallows, fish or poultry with bones and snacks with toothpicks/skewers.
  • Cut round foods like grapes and hotdogs/sausages in half lengthwise.
  • Grate hard vegetables and fruit, like carrots and apples.
  • Thinly spread peanut and nut butters.
  • Finely chop stringy/fibrous foods like celery, pineapple and oranges.

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