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Feeding your baby

Deciding How to Feed Your Baby

Deciding how you are going to feed your baby is a very important decision. Here are some things to think about to help you decide.

Considering breastfeeding?

  • Good for Baby:
    • Always fresh and ready
    • Reduces risk of overweight and obesity
    • May increase protection against illnesses such as childhood diabetes
    • Increases protection against ear, chest and stomach infections
    • May increase protection against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also called crib death
    • Helps to prevent constipation
  • Good for Mom:
    • Promotes closeness and touching with baby
    • Helps the uterus to return to its normal size after birth
    • Helps to control bleeding after birth
    • Helps to protect against cancer of the breast and ovary
    • Saves money; formula is expensive
    • Saves time; there is no need to prepare formula and bottles
    • Does not produce any garbage; there are no formula and bottle packages to throw out
  • Birth control compatible with breastfeeding 
  • Women have the right to be accommodated in the workplace during pregnancy and breastfeeding 
  • Once breastfeeding is stopped it is difficult to reverse the decision

Find more information on breastfeeding

Considering Formula Feeding?

  • Increased risk of ear, chest and stomach infections
  • Formula does not change to meet baby’s growing needs 
  • Less convenient as extra time needed for sterilizing equipment and preparing formula
  • Potential for mistakes to be made during formula preparation
  • Potential for contamination during manufacturing and processing

For personal or medical reasons some families make an informed decision to provide formula. If you have decided to formula feed your baby and need information on how to prepare it safely, please visit Ottawa Public Health’s Food Safety Page.
To talk with a public health nurse about feeding and caring for your baby call the Ottawa Public Health Information Line at 613-580-6744 or email healthsante@ottawa.ca

Other sources of infant feeding information:

  • Best Start Resource Centre 
    http://www.beststart.org/resources/index.html
  • Health Canada 
    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/index-eng.php
  • Public Health Agency of Canada 
    http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/dca-dea/stages-etapes/childhood-enfance_0-2/nutrition/
  • Canadian Pediatric Society
    http://www.cps.ca/
  • Public Health Ontario: Addressing Obesity in Children & Youth 
    http://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/BrowseByTopic/HealthPromotion/Pages/Addressing-Obesity-in-Children-and-Youth.aspx

Introducing solids

What you need to know about starting solids.Infant sitting in a high chair holding a spoon in each hand with one of spoons in mouth.

 Six Months: Time for Iron-rich Foods

When your baby can...sit up in high chair, hold head up, lean forward, follow food with eyes.

  • Breastfeed and give a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 I.U.
  • Your baby is ready for soft, lumpy, tender, cooked food. Purée is not necessary.
  • When any new food is started, watch for signs of allergic reaction.
  • Use a spoon. Give 1 teaspoon or less and slowly give more.
  • Start with once a day in the morning and then 2 times/day.
  • Give both meat (and alternatives) and infant cereal as first solid foods.
  • Start finger food like soft fruit (banana, mango), toast crust, shredded cheese, scrambled egg.

Continue to breastfeed when you start solids, for up to two years and beyond.

Meat and Alternatives:

  • Cooked, mashed, finely minced or scrambled beef, pork, chicken, fish, legumes, eggs and tofu.

Grain Products:

  • Single grain iron-fortified infant cereal (rice, barley, oatmeal). Start by giving cereal mixed with lots of liquid (water or expressed breast milk) and slowly use less liquid.

Vegetables and Fruit:

  • Any cooked and finely mashed vegetable or fruit or soft raw like pears, bananas or peaches.

Milk and Alternatives:

  • Shredded cheese, full fat yogurt, cottage and ricotta cheese (at least 2% M.F.).

Common food allergens such as peanut, fish, wheat, milk products, soy and whole eggs can be given from six months of age. When starting these foods, give only one per day and wait two days before starting another common food allergen.

Seven-Eight Months: Time for More Texture

When your baby can... bite off food, pick up food with fingers, drink from open cup but will spill.

  • Breastfeed and give a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 I.U.
  • Small, bite-sized finger foods like cooked ground meat, fish, egg, noodles, rice, toast, any soft vegetable or fruit, cheese.
  • Offer food 2 to 3 times/day.

Gagging is a natural reflex that helps older infants avoid choking.

Meat and Alternatives:

  • Continue with iron-rich meats, eggs and legumes, semi-solid or minced.
  • Thin spread of nut butter on bite-sized toast.

Grain Products:

  • Start mixed grain infant cereals.
  • Whole grain rice, pasta, dry cereals, dry toast.

Vegetables and Fruit:

  • Offer pieces of any cooked vegetable or soft, raw vegetable or fruit.

Milk and Alternatives:

  • Continue with yogurt, cottage, ricotta cheese.
  • Small pieces of cheese.
  • Give water in an open cup.

Avoid products that contain raw or uncooked meat, eggs, poultry or fish and all unpasteurized products, including dairy, eggs, juices or cider.

Nine-Twelve Months: Time to Chew

When your baby can.....chew, pick up food and put into mouth, control food in mouth, hold spoon, cup.

  • Breastfeed and give a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 I.U.
  • Serve family food that is grated, finely chopped, in pieces or strips.
  • Offer food 3-4 times/day.

Meat and Alternatives:

  • Any that your baby can feed themselves by finger or spoon.

Grain Products:

  • Give small pieces whole grain bread, rice, couscous, pita, pasta.

Vegetables and Fruit:

  • Any soft vegetable or fruit, cooked or raw.

Milk and Alternatives:

  • Slowly start whole cow's milk, once wide variety of foods are being eaten.
  • Offer milk or breastmilk after food.
  • Offer water and milk in an open cup.

Healthy Habits for Every Day

REMEMBER...

Eat together as a family.

You decide:

  • What healthy foods to offer.
  • When to offer meals and snacks.
  • Where your child will eat.

Your child decides:

  • Which foods to eat from what is offered.
  • How much to eat.
  • Your baby can show you when she is hungry by opening her mouth for a spoon. When full, she may shut her mouth, turn her head or push food away.
  • It may take many tries before your baby accepts a new food.

Start healthy habits early

  • Eat without screens, toys, books and other distractions
  • Babies do not need juice. Give fruit instead.
  • Your baby does not need added butter, margarine, salt, sweeteners (sugar, syrup).
  • Do not give honey (or use in cooking) until baby is one year old.

Choking Hazards
Hard foods, small and round foods and smooth and sticky solid foods. Avoid for children under 4 years:hard candies or cough drops, gum, popcorn, marshmallows, whole nuts, seeds, fish with bones; hot dogs; snacks using toothpicks or skewers.

If no longer breastfeeding talk with your health care provider.

For more information, call the Ottawa Public Health Information Line at 613-580-6744.
To contact a Registered Dietitian call EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-510-2
For more information on infant feeding see Best Start’s Feeding Your Baby From Six Months to One Year. 

Print version [PDF 164 KB]

Breastfeeding your baby in the first few weeks

A baby that is breastfeeding well:

  • Is feeding at least 8 times in 24 hours. Feeding more often is normal and good; listen for swallowing or quiet “caw” sound.
  • At 1 day old has at least 1 wet diaper and at least 1 to 2 sticky, dark green/black, soft stools.
  • At 2 days old has at least 2 wet diapers and at least 1 to 2 sticky, dark green/black, soft stools.
  • At 3 days old has at least 3 heavy wet diapers and at least 3 brown/green/yellow, soft stools. Occasional “red brick-coloured” staining is normal until day 3.
  • At 4 days old has at least 4 heavy wet diapers and at least 3 brown/green/yellow, soft stools.
  • At 5 days and older, as the mother's milk supply increases, baby has at least 6 heavy wet diapers and at least 3 large, soft, yellow stools which may have small seeds in them.
  • Is back to birth weight by about 2 weeks of age.

Get help if any of the signs listed above are not present, or if:

  • Your baby is very sleepy and hard to wake for feedings
  • Your baby is crying and will not settle after feedings
  • Your nipples are sore and do not start to get better
  • You have fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, or a red painful area on your breast. 

Help is available from:

  • Our Parenting in Ottawa Drop-ins and Breastfeeding Support Drop-ins
    • Telephone 2-1-1 to help you find the closest Parenting in Ottawa Drop-ins and Breastfeeding Support Drop-ins. 2-1-1 is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week..
    • Visit ParentinginOttawa.ca
  • Public Health Nurses with Ottawa Public Health at 613-PARENTS (613-727-3687), are available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Ottawa Breastfeeds: www.ottawabreastfeeds.ca 
  • La Leche League Canada – Ottawa Chapter, 613-238-5919: For breastfeeding information and support, 7 days a week, visit www.lllc.ca, or e-mail lll.ottawacentre@gmail.com.
  • For private lactation consultant services, visit www.ovlc.net. There is a fee for these services.
  • Your doctor or midwife
Breast milk is the natural food for your baby. Breastfeed anytime, anywhere

 Breastfeeding your baby in the first few weeks [PDF 735 KB]