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The Eating Journey

Guide to: Baby’s first year of food

From a tiny newborn to a determined 1-year-old, the first 12 months of baby’s life are a time of incredible growth and development. Giving them a well-balanced diet will help aid this period of growth. 

But what does a well-balanced diet consist of? 

This food guide outlines the nutrients baby needs to kickstart a life of great health.

Recommended feeding guide for the first year

Months 0-4: Breastfeeding or formula feeding

If it works for mom and baby, breastfeeding is best. Breast milk provides all the nutrients baby needs for their developing immune system, gut microbiome, and growth and development. Breast milk also offers early flavor training for little ones, important for establishing lifelong healthy eating.

It’s also quick and convenient—no powder to mix or bottles to sterilize—which feels like a lifesaver when you have a frantically hungry baby!

But for many reasons breastfeeding isn’t always successful. It can be painful initially and takes practice for both mom and baby. Breastfeeding while out in public isn’t always easy and returning to work while breastfeeding can be challenging.

Formula feeding also provides baby with essential nutrients and provides more flexibility for mom - now your partner can help out with those night feeds! The downside is it’s more expensive than breastfeeding and doesn’t offer the same microbiome benefits as breastmilk.

But whether baby is breastfed, formula fed or a mixture of both, as long as baby is fed in a secure, loving environment they’re off to a great start.

Months 4-6: Flavor training and simple foods

Now’s great to introduce tiny amounts of single vegetables to kick-start early flavor training.

Make pureed vegetables runny by mixing with cooled boiled water, breastmilk, or formula. Support baby upright, either in your lap or highchair, and offer ¼ teaspoon of runny puree after their milk feed.

Chances are more puree will end up on baby, but that’s okay, this time is about the experience, not nutrition.

Months 5-6: Foods for nutrition

Milk feeding is still important, but baby now needs nutrients from food for growth and development.

So how do you know baby’s ready to start solids? Key signs include:

    • Baby can sit upright and hold their head up well
    • Shows interest in food—reaching for food and watching you eat
    • Lost the tongue-thrust reflex
    • Able to swallow food
    • Opens their mouth when food’s offered

Key foods to offer should focus on providing sufficient iron, zinc, protein and good fats. Meat and vegetables make for excellent first options. Remember, baby’s tummy is still small so offer solids after their milk feed.

Months 6-12: Foods for nutrition and texture

These next 6 months you’ll see baby really flourish and become a confident eater (with the right support and healthy foods, of course).

Continue to offer vegetables, meat, well-cooked egg, dairy, and fish. Introduce thicker, lumpier puree and when ready offer soft finger foods and bite-size pieces of age-appropriate food. Fresh fruit in moderation is good and it’ll also be time to introduce water.

Milk feeding is still important, especially morning and night. Somewhere between 8 – 10 months baby may start having solids before their milk feed.

It’s important to introduce foods with different textures before age 8 months, because if left too long it can increase food fussiness and decrease acceptance of new foods.

And remember, baby is still learning to chew so be mindful of foods baby could choke on, especially raw vegetables such as carrots and bell peppers, hard fruits including apples and unripe pears, whole peas, and uncooked raisins.

As a good rule of thumb, if the food can’t dissolve in baby’s mouth or be mashed, leave it out until later.

Foods to delay until age 1

Honey can cause infant botulism, a serious illness caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Symptoms include poor feeding, floppiness, and trouble breathing.

Cow’s milk is hard for baby to digest and doesn’t contain all the nutrients needed for growth that breastmilk and formula have.

Citrus juice is high in sugar, bad for developing teeth, and can upset little tummies. Even after age 1 water and milk are best.

Months 12+: Transitioning to the family meal

By now, baby should be happily eating lots of nutrient-dense foods and settling into a family mealtime routine. Now’s a great time to push the boundaries of what baby eats with lots of herbs and spices.

Limit highly processed foods and takeaways, which can be high in sugar and salt, and encourage whole foods that pack a nutritious punch.

Embrace and enjoy the messy and exciting time of first foods and build the foundation of lifelong healthy food choices!

Disclaimer: The information provided is the opinion of Good Feeding, it has not been evaluated by healthcare professionals, and is for educational purposes only.  Before starting any new foods or feeding practices, please consult your baby's healthcare professional.

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