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From birth, infants follow their internal hunger and fullness cues. They eat when they're hungry and stop eating when they're full. Experts agree that newborns should be fed on demand. This means that you breast- or bottle-feed your infant whenever he or she shows signs of hunger, rather than setting a strict schedule. You let your infant stop feeding at will, even if there is milk left in the bottle or your breast still feels full.
Canadian experts recommend giving only breast milk for the first 6 months and continuing to breastfeed for up to two years and beyond.footnote 1 Breast milk is the ideal food for babies. If you are not able to breastfeed your baby, feed your baby iron-fortified formula. Babies don't need any other liquids or solids for the first 6 months of life.
Breastfed babies need 400 IU of vitamin D each day from a supplement.footnote 1, footnote 2 Formula-fed babies may also need a vitamin D supplement, depending on how much formula they drink. When your baby is no longer breastfeeding or taking formula, your doctor may recommend a vitamin D supplement. Talk with your doctor about how much and what sources of vitamin D are right for your baby.
Your baby is ready to start eating solid foods at 6 months of age, which is around the time he or she:
When your baby is ready to start eating solid foods, keep these general guidelines in mind:
Keep these things in mind, too:
As you introduce new foods, it is important to pay attention to your baby's cues. When your baby's head turns away from a spoonful of food, don't force it. But try again later. Let your baby tell you when he or she is full. Also, it may help to introduce new foods when your baby is well rested and there are no distractions, such as a TV.
As your baby learns to feed himself or herself, keep in mind that your job is to provide a variety of nutritious foods, but your baby will decide how much to eat. If your baby doesn't accept a new food right away, try again later. It can take many tries before your child accepts a food.
Your child can sit with you at the table for short periods of time during meals. Sharing meals with your child allows him or her see you eating a variety of foods, which makes it more likely that your child will also eat a variety of foods as he or she gets older. By 12 months, your child will be able to eat many of the same foods the rest of the family eats.
As your infant reaches 1 year of age, you may find it helpful to know what your job is and what your child's job is when it comes to eating. Parents provide meal structure. That means you are in charge of deciding when meals and snacks are served, where meals and snacks are eaten, and what is served. Your child's job is to decide how much of the provided foods he or she will eat. This will help you avoid power struggles about food.
CitationsHealth Canada, et al. (2012). Nutrition for healthy term infants: Recommendations from birth to six months. A joint statement of Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. Available online: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/index-eng.php.Health Canada, et al. (2014). Nutrition for healthy term infants: Recommendations from six to 24 months. Health Canada. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/recom-6-24-months-6-24-mois-eng.php. Accessed April 28, 2014.Togias A, et al. (2017). Addendum guidelines for the prevention of peanut allergy in the United States: Report of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-sponsored expert panel. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 139(1): 29-44. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.10.010. Accessed August 23, 2017.Chan E, et al. (2013). Dietary exposures and allergy prevention in high-risk infants. Canadian Paediatric Society. http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/dietary-exposures-and-allergy-prevention-in-high-risk-infants. Accessed February 12, 2014.
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope MD - PediatricsThomas M. Bailey MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineRhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Thomas M. Bailey MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
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