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Food for Baby’s First Year

Birth to Six Months

Common Food allergies:

Common food allergens are:

  • Peanuts (peanut butter)
  • Tree nuts (e.g.: cashews, almonds)
  • Sesame seeds ( tahini)
  • Mustard
  • Eggs
  • Milk and milk products (cheese, yogurt)
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Soy (tofu, edamame)
  • Wheat

Wait two days between offering common food allergens.

If you suspect an allergic reaction (e.g.: rash, vomiting, diarrhea), talk to baby’s doctor.

If you suspect a severe allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue or throat), call 9-1-1 immediately.

Liquids

Provide breast milk for the first six months and up to two years and beyond. Follow your baby’s cues that will tell you when they are hungry and when they are full.

  • Breast milk is the only food that your baby needs for the first 6 months.
  • Breastmilk provides just the right amount and type of nutrients and helps protect your baby from infections and illnesses.
  • Babies who are exclusively breastfed or receiving any breastmilk need 400IU of Vitamin D from birth. Vitamin D helps build strong bones and teeth. See page 57 for more on Vitamin D.
  • If baby is hungrier at any time before 6 months, baby may be having a growth spurt. Extra breast milk will meet baby’s needs.

baby eating cereal

At Six Months

Liquids

  • Continue to breastfeed on demand to meet your baby’s needs.
  • Breastfeed before, after or between meals.
  • Continue to give a Vitamin D supplement of 400 IU daily if your baby is receiving breast milk.
  • Around six months you can begin to introduce an open cup. At first, baby will need your help but baby will quickly learn to hold the cup, get it in the right position for sipping and to adjust the pace. Begin with small amounts of breast milk or water for easy clean up. Avoid juice or other beverages.

Starting Your Baby on Solid Food

Baby is ready for solids around six months when they can:

  • Hold their head up.
  • Sit up and lean forward.
  • Opens mouth wide when food is offered.
  • Turn head away to let you know they’ve had enough.
  • Pick up food and try to put it in their mouth.

Offer iron-rich foods as baby’s first foods.

Around six months baby needs extra iron and energy from solids. Offer iron-rich foods at least twice daily. Iron-rich foods include:

  • Legumes (kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas).
  • Soy products (tofu, edamame).
  • Eggs (both egg yolk and white).
  • Beef, dark meat chicken, turkey, pork, fish.
  • Iron-fortified infant cereal.
  • Offer iron-rich foods at least twice daily (more often if vegetarian).

New foods can be introduce daily

  • Once iron-rich foods are introduced, all other foods can be offered in any order.
  • The only food to avoid is honey (even cooked).
  • No need to wait days between new foods (common food allergens are the exception).
  • Start a new food when baby is alert, hungry, and happy.

Offer a variety of textures

Baby doesn’t need teeth to chew on food. Let your baby guide you on textures. Try:

  • Ground, minced or shredded.
  • Cooked or soft, diced foods (cut into pieces ½ to 1 centimetre is size).
  • Lumpy, mashed or pureed.
  • Both spoon and finger feeding.
  • Allow baby to self-feed with their fingers or spoon.

Reduce the risk of choking

Always supervise infants and children when they are eating. Avoid serving the following foods to children four years and under as they pose a choking hazard:

  • Hard, small and round foods (whole grapes, raw carrots, nuts, fruit with pits, hot dogs, popcorn).
  • Smooth and sticky foods (nut butter by spoon).
  • Stringy foods (celery, pineapple).
  • Fish with bones.

To make these foods safer try to:

  • Grate hard fruits or vegetables or cook.
  • Cut grapes in quarters.
  • Remove pits from fruit.
  • Thinly spread nut butters or mix into food such as infant cereal.
  • Chop stringy foods into smaller pieces.

Food Grouping Tips

Vegetables and Fruit

  • Soft, cooked vegetables cut in bite-sized pieces.
  • Soft, ripe fruit, such as bananas, peaches, kiwi, and cantaloupe.

Whole Grains

  • Iron-rich cereal.
  • Dry toast strips.
  • Cooked pasta, cut in pieces.
  • Pieces of flat bread, tortillas, pita.

Protein Foods

  • Bite-sized pieces of tender cooked, shredded, or ground meat, poultry, fish.
  • Cooked, mashed beans.
  • Well cooked eggs.
  • Tofu.
  • Cottage cheese.
  • Small cubes of soft cheese.
  • Shredded cheese.
  • Yogurt .

Trust your baby to decide:

  • How much to eat.
  • Which foods to eat from the foods you offer.
  • When to eat.

Your job is to decide:

  • What foods to offer.
  • Where to eat (upright in a highchair with straps).

Follow your baby’s cues to let you know when they are hungry or full.

Your baby’s tummy is small. They may eat as little as one teaspoon or several tablespoons when first starting out. Let your baby follow their hunger and fullness cues.

Your baby is interested or hungry when they:

  • Lean forward and reach for food.
  • Open their mouth wide when food is offered.

Your baby is not interested or is full when they:

  • Turn their head or face away.
  • Keep their mouth closed.
  • Lean back away from food.

You are a role model for your child. Enjoy family meals together.

  • Sit, talk, and eat with your baby.
  • Keep mealtimes pleasant. Avoid talking about how much or how little your child eats.
  • Put away toys, cell phones, tablets and turn off the TV.

Reference: York Region, Offering your baby solid foods (six months to one year); ODPH Paediatric Nutrition Guidelines (2019)