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Infant nutrition

Plan wisely for your baby

You want your baby to get the nutrition they need to grow up strong and healthy. Today, most women breastfeed their babies. Breastfeeding is important and gives your baby just the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Breastfeeding provides antibodies and other immune factors. These help protect against infections and disease.

On this page

For a young infant (birth to 6 months)

  • Breastfeeding is the only food or drink your baby will need for the first 6 months.
  • Babies who are breastfed should get a vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms (µg) or 400 international units (IU) each day. This will prevent vitamin D deficiency.

If your baby is not breastfed, or is only partially breastfed, commercial infant formulas are an alternative to breast milk. Non-breastfed infants do not require a vitamin D supplement because the commercial infant formula contains vitamin D.

For an older infant (6 to 12 months)

  • Continue to breastfeed for up to two years or more, as long as both you and your child want to.
  • Continue to give your breastfed infant a vitamin D supplement of 10 µg (400 IU).
  • At 6 months, breastfeeding is still your baby’s main food source, but it is time to begin adding solid foods. Formula-fed infants should also be introduced to solid foods at this time.
  • Start with foods that contain iron and offer them a few times each day. Iron supports your baby’s growth and development. Iron-rich foods include meats such as beef, lamb, game, poultry, and fish. Meat alternatives include eggs, tofu, and legumes such as beans and lentils. Iron-fortified infant cereal is also a common first food.
  • Gradually increase the number of times a day that you offer solid foods.
  • Offer your baby a range of nutritious foods from your family meals. Let them discover different textures and experiment with feeding themselves.
  • Give your baby foods they can eat using their hands. Offer pieces of soft-cooked vegetables, soft fruit such as banana, grated cheese, bread crusts and toast.
  • If you are making the transition to cow milk as your child’s main milk source, wait until your baby is between 9 and 12 months old. Start with homogenized cow milk (3.25% M.F.). Do not offer skim or partly skimmed milk (1% or 2% M.F.) before 2 years of age.
  • If you are going to make fortified soy beverage your child’s main milk source, wait until they are 2 years of age. Rice or nut beverages should not be used as your child’s main milk source.
  • Pay attention to your baby’s hunger cues. Trust your child to decide how much they are going to eat at any meal.

Did you know...

Using an open cup will encourage your baby to develop their drinking skills. Give your baby an open cup when offering fluids other than breast milk. At first, your baby will need help with the cup.

For a young child (12 to 24 months)

  • By 12 months, your child needs a variety of foods from the food groups. Learn more about Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide.
  • Establish a schedule of regular meals and snacks for your child.
  • Breastfeed as long as you and your child want to continue.
  • Continue to give your breastfed child a vitamin D supplement of 10 µg (400 IU). This provides a daily source of vitamin D.
  • If you are no longer breastfeeding, offer 500 milliliters (mL) of homogenized milk (3.25% M.F.) each day. Your child may like to drink a lot of milk. You should limit them to 750 mL each day to not affect their intake of other foods.
  • Higher-fat, nutritious foods are an important source of energy for your child. Examples include breast milk, homogenized cow milk (3.25% M.F.), cheese, avocado, nut butters, and some fish such as salmon or trout.
  • Limit fruit juice and do not offer sweetened beverages. If your child seems thirsty, offer water.
  • Eat together as a family as often as you can. Be a role model; try new and nutritious foods yourself.

Safe feeding tips

  • Always supervise your child when eating. Make sure your child is sitting upright and is not distracted. Do not let your child eat while walking or running, or while sitting in a moving vehicle.
  • Introduce common food allergens one at a time. A food allergen can cause an allergic reaction in some children (like itchy skin, upset stomach or wheezing).Wait two days before introducing a new food. That way, if your baby develops a reaction, you'll have a better idea of what food might have caused it.
  • Do not offer solid foods that are hard, small and round, or smooth and sticky. These foods can cause choking.
  • Do not offer herbal teas, sports drinks or other drinks with caffeine or artificial sweeteners.
  • Cook all meat, eggs, poultry, and fish well. Do not use products with raw eggs to avoid salmonella poisoning. Do not offer unpasteurized juices, milk or milk products.
  • To prevent infant botulism, do not offer honey to a baby younger than 12 months.

For more information speak to your healthcare provider. You can also get practical infant feeding resources from your regional public health unit or community health centre.

Menus for older infants and young children

These menus are only a guide. Offer your baby nutritious foods from your family meal and eat together as a family as often as you can. Let your baby decide how much they want to eat from the foods offered.

What you can offer a 7-month old infant

Early morning and on cue at any time (when your baby is hungry)
Breastfeeding

Morning
Breastfeeding
Iron-fortified infant cereal 
Mashed strawberries or other soft fruit 

Snack
Whole grain toast, cut into small pieces or strips

Midday
Breastfeeding
Iron-fortified infant cereal 
Hard-boiled egg, mashed, minced, or grated
Cooked and mashed sweet potato or other vegetable

Snack
Unsweetened stewed prunes, pureed

Early evening
Breastfeeding
Ground or finely minced plain, dark chicken or other meat
Cooked and mashed broccoli or other vegetable

Evening and nighttime
Breastfeeding

What you can offer an 11-month old infant

Early morning and on cue at any time (when your baby is hungry)
Breastfeeding

Morning
Breastfeeding
Iron-fortified infant cereal 
Chopped strawberries 

Snack
Unsweetened o-shaped oat cereal
Blueberries thawed from frozen

Midday
Breastfeeding
Canned salmon, mashed
Sweet potato, mashed
Cooked green peas, mashed

Snack
Chopped, hard-boiled egg
Whole grain bread, cut into strips

Early evening
Breastfeeding
Ground beef cooked with diced tomatoes and macaroni
Unsweetened stewed prunes, pureed

Evening and nighttime
Breastfeeding

What you can offer a 17-month old child

Continue breastfeeding as long as you and your child both want to

Breakfast
Whole grain toast with soft margarine
Scrambled egg 
Sliced banana
Breastfeeding or homogenized cow milk (3.25% M.F.)

Snack
Whole grain tortilla
Grated cheese
Soft pear, sliced

Lunch
Cooked quinoa
Chopped chicken
Grated carrot and cucumber
Chopped mango
Breastfeeding or homogenized cow milk (3.25% M.F.)

Snack
Unsweetened o-shaped oat cereal 
Sliced fresh plum

Supper
Poached fillet of sole, deboned 
Roasted potato, chopped
Steamed broccoli and cauliflower, chopped
Fruit cocktail in juice
Breastfeeding or homogenized cow milk (3.25% M.F.)

Snack
Whole wheat bread with soft margarine
Sliced strawberries
Breastfeeding or homogenized cow milk (3.25% M.F.)

What you can offer a 17-month old vegetarian child

Continue breastfeeding as long as both you and your child want to

Breakfast
Iron-fortified infant cereal 
Sliced banana
Breastfeeding or homogenized cow milk (3.25% M.F.)

Snack
Whole grain crackers with grated cheese
Sliced strawberries

Lunch
Naan bread, cut into strips, spread thinly with hummus
Grated carrots
Cooked green beans, chopped
Diced mango
Breastfeeding or homogenized cow milk (3.25% M.F.)

Snack
Cottage cheese
Unsweetened stewed prunes, pureed

Supper
Lentil pilaf (mixed dish):
Whole wheat couscous
Cooked lentils 
Cooked, diced, zucchini
Diced tomatoes
Chopped, cooked spinach

Fruit cocktail in juice
Breastfeeding or homogenized cow milk (3.25% M.F.)

Snack
Homemade, whole grain muffin
Canned pears, in juice
Breastfeeding or homogenized cow milk (3.25% M.F.)

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