Feeding your baby in the first year

Feeding your baby in the first year of life is an exciting adventure for parents and babies alike. It’s about development, nutrition, curiosity, sharing and learning. Attachmentalso grows as you go about your daily routine with your baby. You can help your baby develop a lifetime of healthy eating habits with the right start.

The first 6 months

For the first 6 months of life, breastfed babieswill get what they need from their mother’s milk.

  • Breast milk has the right amount and quality of nutrients to suit your baby’s first food needs.
  • It is easiest on her digestive system, so there’s less chance of constipation or diarrhea.
  • Breast milk also contains antibodies and other immune factors that help your baby prevent and fight off illness.
  • Babies who are exclusively breastfed should get a daily supplement of vitamin D, which is available as drops.

If breastfeeding is not an option, use a store-bought iron-fortified infant formula for the first 9 to 12 months.

  • Formula should be cow milk-based.
  • Homemade formulas made from canned, evaporated, whole milk (cow or goat) are not recommended as a breast milk substitute.
  • Homemade formulas can contain harmful germs and lack important nutrients that can make your baby sick.
  • Soy, rice or other plant-based beverages, even when fortified, are not appropriate as a breastmilk substitute as they are nutritionally incomplete for infants. There is no evidence that soy-based formula will prevent your child from developing an allergy.
  • Soy-based infant formulas should only be used as an alternative to cow milk-based formula if your baby has galactosemia (a rare disorder that will affect how your baby’s body processes simple sugar) or if your baby cannot consume dairy-based products for cultural or religious reasons.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are unsure which formula is best for your child.

Introducing solid foods

At about 6 months, most babies are ready for other foods. Along with other foods, you can continue to breastfeed until your baby is 2 years and beyond.

You’ll know baby is ready to start other foods when he:

  • Seems hungry earlier than usual.
  • Can sit up without support, and has good control of his neck muscles.
  • Holds food in his mouth without pushing it out on his tongue right away.
  • Shows interest in food when others are eating.
  • Opens his mouth when he sees food coming his way.
  • Can let you know he doesn’t want food by leaning back or turning his head away.

Remember that all babies are different. Some babies may be ready a few weeks before or just after 6 months. However, waiting too long after 6 months to introduce other foods increases your baby’s risk of iron deficiency.

What foods should we start introducing our baby to first?

There are many ways to introduce solid food. The first foods usually vary from culture to culture and from family to family.

  • Start with foods that contain iron, which babies need for many different aspects of their development. Meat, poultry, cooked egg yolk and well-cooked legumes (beans, lentils, chick peas) are good sources of iron. Store-bought iron-fortified infant cereals such as rice or barley are also common first foods because they are good sources of iron.
  • There is no special order to introduce new foods to your baby. It is not recommended delaying any food (such as peanuts, fish or eggs) beyond 6 months of age as a way to prevent your child from developing allergies. This applies even if your child is at high risk for developing an allergy (a child is considered high risk if a parent or sibling has an allergic condition). Talk to your doctor if you are unsure.
  • When introducing foods that are common food allergens, try offering no more than one per day. Wait two days before you introduce another. This makes it easier to identify a food that may have caused a reaction.

Healthy foods that your whole family is eating are the best choice for your baby. Make sure they are plain, with no added salt, sugar or spices. You can use commercial baby foods, but read the label to ensure there is no added salt or sugar.


6 to 9 months

9 to 12 months

Grain products

Offer up to 30 to 60 mL (2 to 4 tbsp.) of iron-fortified infant cereal, twice a day. Then try other grain products such as small pieces of dry toast.

Offer other plain cereals, whole grain bread, rice and pasta.


Offer puréed cooked vegetables—yellow, green or orange.

Move to soft, mashed cooked vegetables.


Offer puréed cooked fruits, very ripe mashed fruits (such as bananas).

Try soft fresh fruits, peeled, seeded and diced or canned fruit, packed in water or juice (not syrup).

Meat and alternatives

Offer puréed cooked meat, fish, chicken, tofu, mashed beans, eggs.

Mince or dice these foods into very small pieces.

Milk and milk products

Between 6 and 9 months, you can offer dairy foods like yogurt (3.25% fat content or higher), cottage cheese or grated hard cheese.

Introduce whole cow’s milk (3.25%).

After 12 months of age, your baby should not take more than 16-24 ounces (500-720 mL) of milk products per day. Too much milk can lead to iron deficiency anemia.

How much should I feed my baby?

Follow your baby’s cues for how much to feed. Start by offering a teaspoon or two. Don’t rush. Some babies need to try a food many times before accepting it. If she’s not hungry, she’ll turn her head and close her mouth. If she’s hungry, she’ll get excited and open up.
Never trick or coax her to eat more by playing games or offering sweetened foods. Babies who are allowed to follow their own hunger cues are much less likely to overeat later in life.
Try foods with different tastes and textures to help your baby learn how to handle foods in her mouth.

Water and juice

Babies who are exclusively breastfed don’t need extra water. When your baby begins to eat other foods, you can start to offer water occasionally.

  • Babies and children don’t need to drink juice. Too much juice, especially apple juice, can cause diarrhea and can fill up small stomachs, decreasing your baby’s appetite for nutritious foods. Too much juice can also cause early childhood tooth decay.
  • Offer water to babies and young children between meals and snacks if they are thirsty. If you choose to offer juice, be sure it is only 100% fruit juice. Always offer it in an open cup, and as part of a meal or snack. Limit juice to 125 to 175 mL (4 to 6 oz.) per day.
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