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Feeding Your Infant

British Columbia Specific Information

Breastmilk is the only food your baby needs for the first 6 months. To learn about breastfeeding and why it is recommended that you breastfeed your baby, see HealthLinkBC File #70 Breastfeeding and HealthLinkBC File #69c Baby's First Foods. For more information on the benefits of breastfeeding and for tips on how to breastfeed, you can also visit the Healthy Families BC website.

For babies who cannot be breastfed, a store-bought infant formula is recommended. To learn more about formula feeding your baby, see HealthLinkBC File #69a Feeding Your Baby Formula: Before You Start.

If your baby is at increased risk of food allergies and you would like to learn more about food allergy, see our Healthy Eating web page on Reducing Risk of Food Allergy in Your Baby.

If you have questions about breastfeeding, formula feeding, or a food allergy, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse or registered dietitian. Our nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and our dietitians are available Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You can also Email a HealthLinkBC Dietitian.


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 Babies who are only fed formula do not need a vitamin D supplement. 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:

  • Demonstrates a curiosity about solid foods and your family's eating behaviour.
  • Has started to transition from using the sucking reflex to swallowing and does not push a spoon or other object out with the tongue when it is placed in the mouth.
  • Can sit with support.
  • Has good head and neck control.

When your baby is ready to start eating solid foods, keep these general guidelines in mind:

  • Continue to offer breast milk or formula while introducing solid foods.
  • Offer your baby iron-rich foods first, such as iron-fortified infant cereal, finely minced meat or fish, mashed cooked egg yolk, mashed beans, or tofu.
    • The order in which other foods from Canada's Food Guide are introduced is not important. Your baby can eat many of the same foods the family eats.
    • Don't add cereal to bottles. Instead, spoon-feed your baby cereal that is made with breast milk, formula, or water, gradually making the mixture thicker.
    • As the variety in your baby's diet increases, include foods rich in vitamin C—such as oranges, berries, tomatoes, and spinach—along with iron-rich foods. Vitamin C helps your baby absorb iron.footnote 1
  • If your doctor thinks your baby might be at risk for a peanut allergy, ask him or her about introducing peanut products. There may be a way to prevent peanut allergies.footnote 3
  • Offer your baby a variety of foods with soft textures. He or she can eat food that is lumpy, tender-cooked and finely minced, pureed, mashed, or ground. Offer finger foods like dry cereal, crunchy toast, well-cooked noodles, small pieces of chicken, cooked egg yolk, and small chunks of banana. Make sure that there are no pieces that could cause your baby to choke.
  • Don't feed your baby directly from a food container. Instead, put some of the food onto a small dish. That way, germs from your baby's mouth won't get into the container and spoil the food that is left.
  • When you first start, don't choose foods with mixed textures, such as broth with vegetables. These kinds of meals are the hardest for a baby to eat.
  • Offer an open cup for liquids other than breast milk or formula. Your baby can use a cup with your help starting around 6 months of age. Work toward a goal of not using a bottle or sippy cup by 12 to 18 months of age.
  • When your baby is 9 to 12 months old and eating a variety of iron-rich foods, he or she can start to drink pasteurized whole-fat cow's milk. Limit cow's milk to no more than 3 cups (750 mL) per day for children 9 to 24 months old. If you are not breastfeeding and do not want to give your child cow's milk, give your child soy infant formula until your child is 2 years of age. After age 2, you can serve low-fat milk or fortified alternatives.
  • Other kinds of milk such as skim milk, 1% milk, or 2% milk, or soy beverage don't have as many nutrients as whole-fat cow's milk. It is best not to give your baby these beverages, until he or she is 2 years of age.
  • Food's made from milk such as yogurt and cheese can be introduced at 6 months as long as your baby is eating a variety of iron-rich foods.

Keep these things in mind, too:

  • Always stay with your baby when he or she is eating or drinking.
  • If you have a family history of allergies, talk to a dietitian, public health nurse, or your doctor. Canadian experts do not recommend waiting to introduce any foods in order to prevent allergy.footnote 4
  • Don't add salt or sugar to your baby's food.
  • Don't give your baby honey until 1 year of age.
  • Don't give your baby sugary drinks or foods.
  • Juice is not necessary for a healthy diet. Juice does not have the valuable fibre that whole fruit has. Many fruit drinks are just water, a little juice flavouring, and a lot of added sugar.

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.



  1. Health 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:
  2. Health Canada, et al. (2014). Nutrition for healthy term infants: Recommendations from six to 24 months. Health Canada. Accessed April 28, 2014.
  3. 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.
  4. Chan E, et al. (2013). Dietary exposures and allergy prevention in high-risk infants. Canadian Paediatric Society. Accessed February 12, 2014.


Adaptation Date: 9/15/2023

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC