Feeding Your Baby in the First 12 Months
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, our formula feeding resource will provide accurate and reliable information on feeding formula to your baby in a safe way.
At 6 months of age, breastmilk is still the most important food for you baby; however, the time has come to introduce solid foods. As babies approach six months, they will start to show the following signs that they are ready for solid foods:
- Baby has better head control
- Baby can sit up without support and lean forward
- Baby can let you know when they are hungry (e.g., putting food in mouth) and full (e.g., turning head away)
- Baby can move tongue back and forth, and side to side
- Baby can open their mouth for a spoon, and can reach for, pick up and put food to their mouth
When your baby is around six months old and consistently shows these signs of readiness, begin to offer iron-rich solid foods.
Some examples of iron-rich foods are:
- Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas)
- Iron-fortified infant cereal
Once 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) that are matched to the skills of your baby. Also offer soft finger foods to help you baby learn how to feed herself.
Try making your own homemade baby food. It is less expense, 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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Common food allergens (eggs, milk, mustard, peanuts, seafood, sesame, soy, tree nuts and wheat) should be offered starting at around 6 months of age, regardless of family history of allergy. Offer these foods one at a time, with a 2 days 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.
Foods to be Aware of…
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 one 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.
- Do not 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
Resources on Feeding Your Baby