Nutrition in the first year

Baby sitting in a highchair

This page is for expectant parents and parents and caregivers of babies. Explore the sections below to find information and resources about feeding babies in the first year of life.

Clients in Northern BC who are looking for nutrition assessment and support from a registered dietitian can:

For more information, contact the Population Health Nutrition Team by email at PopHthNutrition@NorthernHealth.ca or 250-645-3127.

Helpful tips
  • Breastfeeding* and human milk is important for babies, mothers/parents, families and communities. This provides both immune protection and nutrition and is the only food babies need for the first six months
    • Breastfeeding can continue until two years or more, as long as children and parents wish
  • Babies are ready to start solid foods at about six months of age, when they should signs that they are ready
  • All babies need vitamin D. While breastfeeding, give your baby a 400 IU liquid vitamin D supplement each day from birth to two years of age. Babies who are fed only store-bought formula do not need a supplement because vitamin D has been added to the formula
  • Wondering about infant formula? Get information and support to make an informed decision about feeding your baby
  • Your baby may eat a little or a lot. Watch your baby for signs that they are hungry and that they have had enough to eat. It is up to your baby to decide how much to eat

* Some parents may prefer to use the words nursing, chestfeeding, or human milk feeding.

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Breastfeeding and human milk

See breastfeeding and human milk for information about breastfeeding-related topics:

  • Breastfeeding is important
  • Breastfeeding-friendly spaces
  • Donor human milk
  • For community partners
  • Help with breastfeeding
  • Learning to breastfeed
  • Older babies and toddlers
  • Other feeding methods
  • Special circumstances

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Human milk substitutes

You should feel safe and supported to make an informed feeding decision about feeding your baby. Learn about the benefits and risks of available feeding options. Before making a decision, talk with your health care provider about information you have gathered, your questions, and your concerns. Learn about:

  • The importance of breastfeeding - for baby, mother/parent, family, and community. See 10 great reasons to breastfeed your baby - Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
  • The health consequences of not breastfeeding, for baby, mother/parent
  • The risks and costs of formula feeding
  • The difficulty of reversing the decision once breastfeeding is stopped

There may be medical or personal reasons for using store-bought formula. In these cases, learn how to prepare and store formula safely to decrease the risk of your baby getting sick. If you are using formula or thinking about doing so, talk to a nurse or your health care provider.

Resources

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Solid foods
  • Breastfeeding and human milk continue to be important for older babies. In addition to offering solid foods, continue to breastfeed until two years or beyond, for as long as you and your child would like
  • Around six months, babies will show signs that they are ready for solid foods. When your baby shows you that they are ready, aim to offer solid foods twice per day
  • Your baby needs iron-rich foods. Good first foods that are high in iron include meats, chicken, fish, lentils, beans, tofu, and iron-fortified infant cereals
  • You can start with lumpy, minced, or mashed foods, and safe finger foods. As your baby learns to manage more textures, offer diced, grated, and chopped soft pieces
  • Try to eat together with your baby as often as possible

Resources

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