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Feeding Your Baby

Health Canada promotes breastfeeding as the best method of feeding babies. Breast milk is all that is needed to support the growth and health of your baby for the first six months of life. After six months you can introduce solid foods along with continued breastfeeding. It is recommended that you continue breastfeeding your baby in addition to offering a variety of solid foods until he or she is two years or older. Breastfed babies need a daily Vitamin D supplement of 10ug (400IU) until the baby’s diet includes at least 10ug (400IU) per day of Vitamin D from other sources.
Breastfeeding moms can meet their nutritional needs by following Canada’s Food Guide. It is recommended that breastfeeding women include an extra 2 to 3 Food Guide servings each day and continue to take their prenatal vitamin. Eating well gives you the energy you need to look after your baby, restores the nutrients that your body used during pregnancy, and helps your baby get the nourishment he or she needs for growth and development from your breast milk.

Starting Solids

At six months of age, your baby will need more nutrients (like iron) than breast milk alone can provide. Signs that a baby is ready for solids:

  • Has good control of his/her head when sitting.
  • Sits up in a high chair.
  • Opens mouth wide when you offer food on a spoon.
  • Closes lips over the spoon.
  • Keeps food in mouth and swallows it instead of pushing it out.
  • Turns face away if food is not wanted.

Food for Baby’s First Year

Baby progresses from liquid to soft foods and finger foods to family foods by 1 year of age. Respond to your baby’s cues.

Food for Baby’s First Year
When What Why
From birth to 6 months
  • Provide breast milk for the first two years and beyond
  • Respond to your baby’s cues
  • Breast milk + Vitamin D
  • Provide a daily Vitamin D supplement of 10ug (400 IU) from birth to 24 months of age if baby receives breast milk
At 6 months
Start iron-rich solids when your baby:

  • Can sit and lean forward and backward
  • Holds head up and turns towards/away from food
  • Follows food with eyes
  • Opens mouth wide when offered food
  • Offer iron-rich foods such as beef, poultry, fish, meat alternatives (cooked whole egg, tofu, well-cooked legumes such as beans and lentils) and iron-fortified infant cereal.
  • Provide a variety of soft textures (lumpy, tender-cooked and finely minced, puréed, mashed or ground) and finger foods.
  • Baby needs iron and extra energy from solids.
  • Baby can handle a variety of textures.
  • Baby learns to move food to back of the mouth with tongue and swallow.
  • Keep feeding positive. Do not force baby to eat.
  • Increase iron-rich foods until offered:
    • Two or more times each day from 6-12 months
    • At every meal from 12-24 months
6 to 8 months

  • Parent decides whether to offer breast milk or a solid food first
  • New foods can be given in any order
  • Increase texture and variety of foods responding to baby’s cues

6-8 months

  • Offer solid foods at 2-3 meals and 1-2 snacks
  • Offer soft-cooked vegetables (grated, mashed, pureed or soft pieces): squash, sweet potato, peas, carrots, etc.
  • Offer soft ripe fruit or small pieces of soft-cooked fruit: banana, apple, pear, peach, melon, etc.
  • Offer milk products: yogurt, cottage cheese, grated/small pieces of cheese.
  • Offer finger foods: ground or minced cooked meat, fish or poultry; crackers or toast strips; pasta
  • Continue with iron-rich foods as you introduce other new foods. If baby refuses iron-rich foods, discuss an iron supplement with your doctor.
  • Offer a variety of foods to introduce new flavours, textures and important nutrients.
  • Give your baby food without added salt, sugar, honey or other sweeteners.
  • Baby can sip small amounts of water from an open cup.
  • Juice is not needed. If you decide to give juice offer only unsweetened, 100% fruit juice and limit to 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup (2-4 oz.) per day.
  • Allow baby to self-feed with fingers or a spoon.
  • Expect a mess!
  • Make sure that lumpy textures and/or finger foods are offered by 9 months.
 9 to 12 months

  • 9-11 months: Offer 3 meals and 1-2 snacks
  • 12-24 months: Offer 3 regular meals and 2-3 snacks
  • If you offer cow’s milk, serve homogenized 3.25% M.F. milk in an open cup
  • Offer a variety of foods from Canada’s Food Guide
  • Provide healthy fats: soft margarines, nut or seed butters, vegetable oils, fatty fish and avocado
  • Include baby in family meals often
  • Wait until 9 to 12 months to offer homogenized cow’s milk. Baby should be eating a variety of solid foods before it is introduced. Cow’s milk is low in iron.
  • Healthy, higher fat foods are an important source of energy for your child.
  • Honey could make your baby sick. Do not offer honey or foods that contain honey until baby is 1 year of age.
  • Be a good role model for your child.

How can I feed my baby safely?

  • Always watch your baby eat. Baby should sit to eat. Let your baby focus on eating without distractions like TV.
  • Common food allergens include: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, mustard, fish and shellfish. Introduce these foods from 6 months, one at a time, 2 days apart. Introduce these foods early and serve often. Delaying will not prevent an allergy.
  • If an allergic reaction (diarrhea, rash, itchy skin, swelling or difficulty breathing) happens, seek medical attention.
  • Prevent food poisoning. Cook all meat, eggs, poultry, and fish well. Do not use products with raw eggs. Do not give unpasteurized milk, milk products or juice to your baby.
  • Reduce the risk of choking by not feeding whole nuts, popcorn, gummy candies, marshmallows, hard candy or fish with bones. To protect your baby: cut round foods such as grapes; remove pits from fruit; cook hard vegetables and fruit until soft; spread sticky foods such as nut butters thinly on a cracker or toast, not soft bread.
  • Do not give your baby herbal teas, sports drinks or other drinks with caffeine or sweeteners.

Why use an open cup?

An open cup:

  • Reduces the risk of dental cavities
  • Helps baby avoid getting too many calories
  • Promotes mature drinking skills

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 water because it is easy to clean up.

How much should my baby eat?

Your baby knows best how much to eat. Watch for signs from your baby. Stop when your baby turns her head away or closes her lips to show she has had enough food. 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. Allow him to eat at his own pace.

When feeding your baby solid foods, remember:

  • You decide:
    • What foods to offer
    • When to offer meals and snacks
    • Where your child will eat
  • Trust your child to decide:
    • Which foods to eat
    • How much to eat

To encourage health eating habits for a lifetime, make eating a social and enjoyable time. Your older baby can eat at the table (in a high chair) with the rest of the family. He/she will learn social and motor skills, as well as table manners and healthy eating here.

View our printable version of this information for Food for Baby’s First Year.

Making food for your baby is easier than it looks. This video shows you how.

Check out the factsheets below for more information on feeding your baby.

Questions on Healthy Eating?

Call a Haldimand-Norfolk Public Health Dietitian at: 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623 or call Eat Right Ontario at: 1-877-510-5102.

Last updated January 2016.

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