Be sure to include breakfast each day
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Healthy Eating

Healthy eating means that you are getting the water and nutrients you need to be healthy. Nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals.

Healthy eating gives you energy and helps to keep you physically and mentally healthy.

Healthy Eating (0-6 Months)

Deciding how you will feed your baby is an important decision. Learn everything you can about breastfeeding and formula feeding. This will help you decide what is best for you and your baby.

Breastfeeding is a natural and healthy way to feed your baby. Breast milk is the best food for babies for their first year. If you are breastfeeding, give your baby 400 IU of Vitamin D a day. There are many benefits to breastfeeding. Click here for more information.

Breastfeeding is a natural and healthy way to feed your baby

Some women choose not to breastfeed for medical or personal reasons. Click here for more information.

Each time you feed your baby, she will need to be burped after feeding. Click here for more information.

Click here for information about what not to feed your baby.

How Often Does my Baby Need to Feed?

Baby feeding intervals

Your newborn will need to feed every 2 to 3 hours. Your baby’s stomach is very small when she is born. As your baby gets older, her stomach will get bigger. She will be able to hold more food and will be satisfied for a longer time.

Your baby needs to be fed when she is hungry. Your baby will develop a feeding schedule that meets her needs. Let your baby tell you when she is hungry.

Your baby will let you know when she is hungry by putting her fingers in her mouth, moving her eyes rapidly, nuzzling against your breast, fussing, or making sucking motions with her mouth. By responding when she needs you, your baby learns that you will meet her needs. This will help her develop an attachment to you. This is the beginning of trust. Crying is a very late feeding cue. When your baby begins crying from hunger, this often means that the other cues have been missed.

You cannot spoil a baby. By attending to her needs, she will feel better. She will learn security and love.

How Much is Enough?

Feeding Chart by Months

To know if your baby is getting enough to eat, use his diapers as clues. If he is getting enough, he should have six to eight wet diapers a day. In addition, he may have several small bowel movements daily. Some babies “fill their diaper” after each feeding.

Some breastfed babies over six weeks old may go several days without a bowel movement. This is because breast milk is almost completely digested. This is normal. As long as your baby is comfortable, there is no need to worry.

As time goes on, there will be fewer bowel movements and diaper changes. If your baby is eating well, gaining weight, and does not have dry, hard bowel movements, he is doing well.

Your newborn may lose weight during his first week. After that, there should be a steady weight gain.

Watch for the following to ensure that your baby is getting enough food.

  • The urine in his diaper is pale or clear in colour.
  • He is content after most feeds.
  • He is gaining weight.

The amount your baby drinks at each feeding will gradually increase. If you are breastfeeding, your milk will continue to increase to meet your baby’s needs.

Breastfeeding (0-6 Months)

Breast milk is the best food for babies. Breast milk provides all the nutrients and calories your baby needs.

Breastfeeding can continue as long as you want. It is your choice when you stop breastfeeding. Every day that you breastfeed benefits your baby.

It is recommended by the Canadian Paediatric Society and Health Canada that breast milk be the only food for babies 0-6 months old. You can continue to breastfeed your baby as long as you want to.

Breastfeeding Benefits

Your breast milk:

  • changes as your baby develops in order to meet his needs
  • rarely runs out; you produce it as your baby needs it
  • is easier to digest than formula
  • helps build your baby’s immune system which can protect him against infection
  • is convenient and free with no bottles or nipples to sterilize
  • can be pumped (expressed), stored, and fed to your baby by bottle at a later time.

Breastfeeding:

  • can lower your baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS, crib death)
  • has been found to have a positive effect on your child’s motor skills, problem solving skills, and social skills
  • can decrease your baby’s chance of getting cavities, allergies, and asthma
  • helps protect you and your baby from some types of cancers, including breast, cervix, ovarian, and some childhood cancers
  • can decrease your feelings of stress and anxiety
  • uses a lot of energy that burns calories and fat, and helps you lose weight after your baby is born
  • is environmentally friendly; there are no cans or packaging needed
  • can soothe your baby
  • is free

Choosing to Breastfeed

Your baby’s brain is growing and developing from birth. Breastfeeding allows your child to be in the perfect position to see your eyes and face. This helps with attachment and helps your baby’s brain to develop.

Choosing to Breastfeed

Your baby’s brain will develop because of the experiences she has in her early years. Newborns experience the world through their five senses: touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste. Skin-to-skin contact while breastfeeding provides the touch and smell experiences. Your baby is in a position during breastfeeding to hear your heart beat.

You can also pump your breast milk so that you can feed it to your baby by bottle later. Click here for more information on feeding breast milk from a bottle.

The amount your baby drinks at each feeding will gradually increase. If you are breastfeeding, your milk will continue to increase to meet your baby’s needs.

Vitamin D Liquid Supplementation

Babies who are breastfed should get a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU each day. This will prevent the vitamin D deficiency bone disease called rickets. If your baby was born prematurely, your doctor may recommend other vitamin or mineral supplements.

Breastfeeding Concerns

Breastfeeding does not come easy to all mothers. With each baby, breastfeeding can be different. It may take a while for both you and your baby to learn to breastfeed together.

Breastfeeding can be hard for some women. Sometimes it can be painful. This is often due to infections. Talk to your healthcare providers if you have any questions or concerns. You can also talk to a lactation consultant. Lactation consultants are trained to help women with breastfeeding concerns and questions. For more information, please contact Saskatchewan Lactation Consultant Association via [email protected] or [email protected]

If you have twins or multiples, please speak to a lactation consultant about breastfeeding your children. They can help you with advice about positioning as well as nutrition and getting enough fluids.

It is common for new moms to feel a bit sore and tender after breastfeeding

It is common for new moms to feel a bit sore and tender after breastfeeding. You should not feel pinching, biting, or soreness that lasts the whole feeding. After breastfeeding, if your nipple looks flat, cracked, or is bleeding, this is not normal. Please see the links below for more information.

Some women are worried about having skin-to-skin contact with their babies. They may feel that they are doing something wrong or inappropriate. It is natural to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby. In fact, skin-to-skin contact is one of the best ways to support your baby’s growth and development.

Click on each topic below to learn more about some common breastfeeding issues and strategies for dealing with them.

Latching on
Engorgement
Plugged duct
Mastitis
Sore, cracked nipples
Increasing breast milk supply

Burping (0-6 Months)

Your baby will swallow air while feeding and crying. It is important to help him burp up the air bubbles. You can do this in one of three ways.

It is important to help him burp up the air bubbles

  • Hold him up against your chest so he is looking out over your shoulder. Rub or pat his back gently. Put a cloth over your shoulder in case milk comes up with the bubble.
  • Hold him in a sitting position on your lap. Support his chin with one hand. Gently rub his back with the other hand.
  • Hold him tummy down over your knees. Gently rub his back. If no bubbles come up in two or three minutes, put him down on his tummy for a minute or two and then try again.

Burp a breastfed baby when finished feeding on each breast. Try burping a bottle-fed baby after 30 mL (1 oz). Some babies stop sucking when they need to be burped. You will soon get to know what is best for your baby. If you do not burp your baby regularly, the gas can cause discomfort.

Formula Feeding (0-12 Months)

Cow’s milk-based, iron-fortified commercial formula provides the best alternative for infants who are not breastfed or who are being fed both formula and breast milk. Your baby will not need formula after they are 12 months old.

Plain cow’s milk, evaporated milk, or homemade infant formulas will not meet your baby’s nutritional needs. Homemade formula increases the risk of illness, due to contamination by bacteria. Health Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society, and Dietitians of Canada do not recommend the use of homemade formula.

Are There Any Reasons I Should Not Breastfeed?

A mother should not breastfeed if she:

  • is HIV infected
  • has herpes lesions on both breasts
  • has a severe illness that prevents her from caring for her child

If a new mother has HIV, the Government of Saskatchewan will provide free formula until the baby is one year old. To access this program, please call:

Government of Saskatchewan free formula contact

Choosing Formula

If you choose to formula feed your baby, your first step is choosing a formula. Choose a formula that is cow’s milk-based. Infant formula is sold in three forms:

  • Liquid ready-to-use
  • Liquid concentrate
  • Powdered

Liquid ready-to-use formulas are the easiest to use and are sterile. If you plan to use liquid concentrate or powdered formulas, make sure that you are mixing them with sterilized water. Always read the instructions so that you are mixing the formula properly. This will make sure that your baby is getting the nutrients and calories she needs. Click here for information about warming formula.

You will need to burp your baby after he eats.

What Position Should I Be in to Bottle-feed my Baby?

Hold your child in the same position you would if you were breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin contact is also important when your child is young. Always hold your child when you are feeding him. When your child wants to hold the bottle and feed himself, make sure he is in his high chair.

You will need to burp your baby after he eats.

What Should I do if my Baby Needs a Different Kind of Formula?

For babies who are sensitive to cow’s milk, your doctor or dietitian will recommend a specialized formula. It is often not necessary to use a soy or lactose-free formula. Always talk to your healthcare provider before switching formulas.

How Much Should I Feed my Baby?

The amount your baby drinks at each feeding will gradually increase. If you have concerns about how much your baby is drinking, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.

Feeding Chart by Months

Can I Feed Both Formula and Breast Milk?

If you are choosing to breastfeed and formula feed your baby, there are a few things you should know.

  • The amount of breast milk you make will decrease.
  • Your baby’s stomach might get irritated.
  • You will need to supplement your baby with 400 IU of Vitamin D every day.

What Not to Feed a Baby (0-1 Year)

Juice and Pop

  • Do not give babies juice or pop.
  • Juice and pop contain a lot of sugar. Even 100% fruit juice is high in sugar.
  • Sugary drinks can cause dental cavities. When you eat sugar, the sugar is changed to an acid by bacteria that is in your mouth. The acid dissolves the outer part of the teeth, called enamel. Holes in your teeth’s enamel are called cavities.
  • Juice and pop can also lower your baby’s appetite for healthy foods. Juice can also cause diarrhea.
  • Cavities, lowered appetite, and diarrhea can happen even if you dilute the juice with water.
  • If you choose to give your baby juice, make sure it is pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process that kills microbes (like bacteria) that can make your baby sick.

Others

  • Do not give a child of any age energy drinks.
  • Your baby only needs breast milk or formula until he is six months old.
  • Pasteurized cow’s milk, milk products (cheese and yogurt), or goat’s milk are not meant for babies until they are at least nine months old. If possible do not introduce this until your child is 12 months old.
  • Do not feed your child (of any age) unpasteurized milk. Pasteurization is a process that gets rid of microbes, like bacteria, that are present in the milk.
  • Soy milk, rice milk, nut milk (like almond and cashew), coconut milk, and other milk substitutes should not be given to babies or toddlers. These do not have the nutrients and fat that your baby needs. If your child is not breastfeeding and is unable to tolerate cow’s milk formula, talk to your healthcare provider about alternatives.
  • Honey should not be given to babies until they are at least 2 years old. Honey can cause botulism (pop up) in young children. Botulism is caused by bacteria and can cause death. Image of honey container with an x through it.

Healthy Eating (6-12 Months)

At this age, your baby’s main source of food is still breast milk or an iron-fortified formula. These contain the nutrients and calories that your baby needs.

If you are breastfeeding, give your baby 400 IU of Vitamin D a day.

give your baby 400 IU of Vitamin D a day

Click here for information about breastfeeding.

Click here for information about formula feeding.

Juice and Pop

Do not give babies juice or pop.

Juice and pop contain a lot of sugar. Even 100% fruit juice is high in sugar.

Sugary drinks can cause dental cavities. When you eat sugar, the sugar is changed to an acid by bacteria that is in your mouth. The acid dissolves the outer part of the teeth, called enamel. Holes in your teeth’s enamel are called cavities.

Juice and pop can also lower your baby’s appetite for healthy foods. Juice can also cause diarrhea.

Cavities, lowered appetite, and diarrhea can happen even if you dilute the juice with water.

Introducing Solid Foods

Your baby may be ready to try solid foods when he is six months old. You can tell that your baby is ready when he:

  • can sit up and lean forward without your support
  • can hold food in his mouth without pushing it out with his tongue right away
  • can control his head movement
  • shows interest in the food you are eating
  • opens his mouth when he sees food coming toward him
  • lets you know when he is full (e.g., turning his head away from you or leaning away from you)
  • picks up food and tries to put it in his mouth

picks up food and tries to put it in his mouth

Start adding solid foods that have iron and offer these foods a few times each day. Foods such as fish, eggs, chicken, tofu, beans, and lentils are high in iron. Iron-fortified infant cereals are also high in iron.

healthy eating foods

Your infant’s body can use iron from meat easier than iron from plants. Continue to focus on introducing food high in iron.

It is also important to feed your baby food that has a high amount of Vitamin C. This includes oranges and tomatoes.

Self-feeding

New foods should be introduced gradually.

Remember that these foods are only being introduced. They are not helping your baby get the nutrients and calories that he needs. He is getting these from breast milk or formula.

Pay attention to your baby’s signs that he is hungry or full.

Self-feeding can start along with the introduction of solids. This is an important part of a healthy feeding relationship. Supervise your child to make sure that he has swallowed the food in his mouth before he adds more.

Click on an icon below for more information.

Breastfeeding (6-12 Months)

Breastfeeding can continue as long as you wish. Breastfeeding for longer than six months can be healthy for both you and your baby and is recommended by Health Canada.

For you, breastfeeding may help prevent certain types of cancer. It also can help you continue to bond with you child.

Breastfeeding can continue as long as you wish.

Until you transition your child to cow’s milk (whole or 3%), your child continues to need more vitamin D. Continue to supplement 400 IU of vitamin D to his diet. It is important to give vitamin D so your child does not develop rickets.

Plugged duct
Mastitis
Sore, cracked nipples
Increasing breast milk supply

Formula Feeding (0-12 Months)

Cow’s milk-based, iron-fortified commercial formula provides the best alternative for infants who are not breastfed or who are being fed both formula and breast milk. Your baby will not need formula after they are 12 months old.

Plain cow’s milk, evaporated milk, or homemade infant formulas will not meet your baby’s nutritional needs. Homemade formula increases the risk of illness, due to contamination by bacteria. Health Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society, and Dietitians of Canada do not recommend the use of homemade formula.

Are There Any Reasons I Should Not Breastfeed?

A mother should not breastfeed if she:

  • is HIV infected
  • has herpes lesions on both breasts
  • has a severe illness that prevents her from caring for her child

If a new mother has HIV, the Government of Saskatchewan will provide free formula until the baby is one year old. To access this program, please call:

Government of Saskatchewan free formula contact

Choosing Formula

If you choose to formula feed your baby, your first step is choosing a formula. Choose a formula that is cow’s milk-based. Infant formula is sold in three forms:

  • Liquid ready-to-use
  • Liquid concentrate
  • Powdered

Liquid ready-to-use formulas are the easiest to use and are sterile. If you plan to use liquid concentrate or powdered formulas, make sure that you are mixing them with sterilized water. Always read the instructions so that you are mixing the formula properly. This will make sure that your baby is getting the nutrients and calories she needs. Click here for information about warming formula.

You will need to burp your baby after he eats.

What Position Should I Be in to Bottle-feed my Baby?

Hold your child in the same position you would if you were breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin contact is also important when your child is young. Always hold your child when you are feeding him. When your child wants to hold the bottle and feed himself, make sure he is in his high chair.

You will need to burp your baby after he eats.

What Should I do if my Baby Needs a Different Kind of Formula?

For babies who are sensitive to cow’s milk, your doctor or dietitian will recommend a specialized formula. It is often not necessary to use a soy or lactose-free formula. Always talk to your healthcare provider before switching formulas.

How Much Should I Feed my Baby?

The amount your baby drinks at each feeding will gradually increase. If you have concerns about how much your baby is drinking, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.

Feeding Chart by Months

Can I Feed Both Formula and Breast Milk?

If you are choosing to breastfeed and formula feed your baby, there are a few things you should know.

  • The amount of breast milk you make will decrease.
  • Your baby’s stomach might get irritated.
  • You will need to supplement your baby with 400 IU of Vitamin D every day.

Healthy First Foods (6-12 Months)

When to Introduce Solid Foods

Your baby may be ready to try solid foods when he is six months old. You can tell that your baby is ready when he:

  • can sit up and lean forward without your support
  • can hold food in his mouth without pushing it out with his tongue right away
  • can control his head movement
  • shows interest in the food you are eating
  • opens his mouth when he sees food coming toward him
  • lets you know when he is full by turning his head away from you or leaning away from you
  • picks up food and tries to put it in his mouth

Continue to breastfeed or formula feed while introducing solid food. This way, you can make sure your baby is getting all the nutrients and calories he needs.

What Foods to Start With

Start with foods that contain iron like meat and alternatives, and iron-fortified infant cereals. Meat and alternatives include meat, eggs, tofu, beans, and lentils. Iron from meat is better absorbed in the body than iron from plants.

healthy eating foods

It is also important to feed your baby food that has a high amount of Vitamin C. This includes oranges and tomatoes.

You can choose to buy prepared baby food from the store. You can offer your baby the foods that your family is eating, as long as the texture is appropriate. Family foods can be offered to babe, as long as the texture is modified appropriately. Puree, mash, and chop foods to make them the right texture for your baby. You can use a fork, potato masher, sieve, or blender. Avoid adding extra salt, sugar, or fat to your baby’s food.

Food Allergies

Start with single foods and avoid mixtures of foods if possible. Wait about 2-4 days before trying new foods. If your baby develops an allergic reaction, it is easier to know which food caused the reaction.

Milk and Milk Products

Wait until your baby is at least nine months old before introducing pasteurized cow’s milk and alternatives such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and other cheeses. At this time, give your baby whole or 3% milk until she is two years old. Milk will help support growth and brain development.

Low-fat dairy is not recommended until your child is older than two years of age. Low-fat dairy products are low in iron and also lower the amount of iron she will absorb from other foods.

Fruits and Vegetables

Other healthy foods include soft vegetables and fruits. Whole vegetables and fruits are should be offered instead of juice.

Juice

Feeding your baby juice is not recommended. Juice is not healthy for babies. It can also reduce his appetite for more nutritious foods such as breast milk, formula, or solid foods, and cause diarrhea.

Juice and pop contain a lot of sugar. Even 100% fruit juice is high in sugar.

Sugary drinks can cause dental cavities. When you eat sugar, the sugar is changed to an acid by bacteria that is in your mouth. The acid dissolves the outer part of the teeth, called enamel. Holes in your teeth’s enamel are called cavities.

Juice and pop can also lower your baby’s appetite for healthy foods. Juice can also cause diarrhea.

Cavities, lowered appetite, and diarrhea can happen even if you dilute the juice with water.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Some families decide to feed their children vegetarian or vegan diets for cultural, religious or lifestyle reasons. If your child is less than two years old, she might not get all of the nutrition she needs on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Therefore, your child may need additional supplements. Talk to your healthcare provider before introducing a toddler to a vegetarian or vegan diet. For more information, please click here.

Healthy Habits

It is important to make sure that your child sits while eating. Sitting reduces the risk of choking. Include your child in family meals to build family connections and healthy eating habits.

Healthy Habits

Food Safety

5 Steps to Food Safety

  • Do not give a child of any age an energy drink.
  • Cooked eggs are safe for your baby. The yolk should be cooked well and not runny.
  • Raw eggs in raw cookie dough or cake batter can make your child sick. Bake anything that has eggs in it thoroughly before giving it to a child.
  • Fish is safe if it is broken into small pieces. Be sure that all bones are removed.
  • Peanuts are small and can lead to risk of choking for babies.
  • Peanut butter can stick in your child’s mouth. Spread peanut butter thinly on crackers or bread to make it safer and easier to swallow.
  • Remove pits or large seeds from fruit. Cut grapes in halves or quarters and remove seeds.
  • Cut wieners lengthwise then in small pieces.
  • Unpasteurized honey is not recommended until your baby is at least two years old. Pasteurized honey can be given after one year. Do not feed honey to a baby who is under the age of one year. This can cause botulism.
  • The following are choking hazards for your baby. Avoid them until your child is at least four years old:
    • raisins, gum, hard candies, marshmallows
    • popcorn, nuts, sunflower seeds
    • any food with toothpicks or skewers

Food Allergies (6 months to 5 years)

It is safe to introduce most foods during your baby’s first year. This includes foods like peanuts, fish, and egg whites. Introducing these foods earlier than 12-24 months of age might lower the chance of your baby being allergic to them. Offer new foods every 2-4 days and watch for signs of an allergic reaction.

emergency

If your child has any symptoms of an allergic reaction, take him immediately to the nearest emergency room or healthcare provider.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:

  • hives, skin redness, or rash
  • swelling of the face, tongue, or lips
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea, or blood in bowel movement
  • coughing or wheezing
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of consciousness

If you or another family member has a serious allergy to any food, talk to your healthcare provider before introducing these foods to your child.

Tips: How to Feed Your Baby (6-12 Months)

Include your baby in family mealtimes.

Encourage self-feeding. At this stage, your baby will be using her hands to eat, not utensils. Learning how to eat is a messy process.

Learning to eat or trying new foods includes:

  • seeing what you eat
  • looking at food
  • smelling food
  • tasting and spitting out food
  • tasting and swallowing food
  • eating one bite and stopping
  • changing her mind about what she likes

Let your baby touch the food in the dish or spoon.

Let your baby touch the food in the dish or spoon.

Feed your baby food that has a variety of textures, such as bananas, minced meat, bread crusts, and grated cheese.

Feed your baby at his own pace. Do not try to make him go faster or slower than he wants.

Make sure you are watching to see if your child is swallowing food before feeding him more.

Stop feeding your baby when he shows you he is full, e.g., turns his head away.

Be patient when offering new foods.

Be patient when offering new foods. It may take many attempts before your baby may like a new food.

Have your child practice drinking

Use a regular open-top cup to help your baby develop drinking skills. Your child should only be drinking water, breast milk, and/or formula. Put a small amount of water in the bottom of the cup. Your baby will need your help with the cup until he is more independent.

Sippy cups and non-spill training cups are not recommended for use. These are hard to clean and bacteria can get trapped in the lids or straws. Also, using these cups affects the development of your child’s swallowing muscles.

What Not to Feed a Baby (0-1 Year)

Juice and Pop

  • Do not give babies juice or pop.
  • Juice and pop contain a lot of sugar. Even 100% fruit juice is high in sugar.
  • Sugary drinks can cause dental cavities. When you eat sugar, the sugar is changed to an acid by bacteria that is in your mouth. The acid dissolves the outer part of the teeth, called enamel. Holes in your teeth’s enamel are called cavities.
  • Juice and pop can also lower your baby’s appetite for healthy foods. Juice can also cause diarrhea.
  • Cavities, lowered appetite, and diarrhea can happen even if you dilute the juice with water.
  • If you choose to give your baby juice, make sure it is pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process that kills microbes (like bacteria) that can make your baby sick.

Others

  • Do not give a child of any age energy drinks.
  • Your baby only needs breast milk or formula until he is six months old.
  • Pasteurized cow’s milk, milk products (cheese and yogurt), or goat’s milk are not meant for babies until they are at least nine months old. If possible do not introduce this until your child is 12 months old.
  • Do not feed your child (of any age) unpasteurized milk. Pasteurization is a process that gets rid of microbes, like bacteria, that are present in the milk.
  • Soy milk, rice milk, nut milk (like almond and cashew), coconut milk, and other milk substitutes should not be given to babies or toddlers. These do not have the nutrients and fat that your baby needs. If your child is not breastfeeding and is unable to tolerate cow’s milk formula, talk to your healthcare provider about alternatives.
  • Honey should not be given to babies until they are at least 2 years old. Honey can cause botulism (pop up) in young children. Botulism is caused by bacteria and can cause death. Image of honey container with an x through it.

Meal Time: Your Role; Your Child’s Role (0-5 Years)

It is your job as a parent to be a good role model and eat healthy foods. It is also your job to offer healthy foods to your child. And, it is also your responsibility to determine where your child will eat, for example at the kitchen table, and when the child will eat. It is important to have a regular schedule for meals and snacks.

Meal Time

It is your child’s job to decide how much to eat, what he will eat, and if he will eat at all.

It can be hard for some parents to trust their child to determine how much and if he will eat. However, children have a natural ability to determine how much food they need. If they are given healthy foods, they eat as much as they need to grow.

If children are taught they need to ‘clean their plates’ or ‘have two more bites’, their natural body cues for hunger and fullness do not work as well.

If your child is growing well, he is getting the right amount of food that he needs.

Healthy Eating (1-2 Years Old)

You can continue to breastfeed your child if you want to. Your body will continue to make milk as long as your baby is feeding. Your baby does not need formula at this time.

Iron

Continue to introduce foods that are high in iron. Foods such as fish, eggs, chicken, tofu, beans, and lentils are high in iron. Iron-fortified infant cereals are also high in iron.

Your infant’s body uses iron from meat easier than iron from plants. Continue to focus on introducing food high in iron.

Your child should be eating a variety of foods.

Follow Canada’s Food Guide by providing a variety of healthy food each day. For more information, visit: Canada’s Food Guide.

Below is a list of examples of healthy foods:

Young children are very sensitive to added flavours. Your child may not like foods that are too buttery, sweet, sour, or spicy. Bland foods are best at this age.

Offer child-sized portions. A portion is the amount of food you choose to feed your child at each meal and snack. A guideline for a portion is about 15 mL (one tbsp.) of food for each year of age. Remember that your child may not choose to eat the whole portion at one time but over the course of a day. For more information, please click here.

Introducing Cow’s Milk

If you are formula feeding, it is time to switch to cow’s milk. This may be called whole milk or 3% milk. Milk that you give your child should be pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process that removes microbes (like bacteria) from the milk. Limit the amount of milk your child drinks to a maximum of 240-480 mL (2-3 cups) a day.

Safety

Test the temperature of the food to be sure it is not hot. Your child cannot do this for herself, as she may burn her mouth or tongue.

Certain foods must be cut or broken into small pieces to avoid choking, e.g., wieners, carrots, grapes. Make sure that your child swallows what she is eating before she puts more food in her mouth.

Water

Encourage your child to satisfy her thirst with water.

Encourage your child to satisfy her thirst with water.

Juice and Pop

Juice and pop contain a lot of sugar. Even 100% fruit juice is high in sugar.

Sugary drinks can cause dental cavities. When you eat sugar, the sugar is changed to an acid by bacteria that is in your mouth. The acid dissolves the outer part of the teeth, called enamel. Holes in your teeth’s enamel are called cavities.

Juice and pop can also lower your baby’s appetite for healthy foods. Juice can also cause diarrhea.

Cavities, lowered appetite, and diarrhea can happen even if you dilute the juice with water.

Self-Feeding

Have your child practice drinking

Your child is still learning how to feed herself. This will be messy. Your child must practice feeding herself if she is to learn the skill.

You can lessen your own stress by making sure she has easy-to-wash clothes, lots of bibs, and a splash zone around her high chair.

Can we please only use the ones that are stacked and remove the yellow one.

Have your child practice drinking with a child-size, open-top cup. If you are still bottle feeding, begin to decrease the number of times you are giving your child a bottle.

Sippy cups and non-spill training cups are not recommended for use. These are hard to clean and bacteria can get trapped in the lids or straws. Also, using these cups affects the development of your child’s swallowing muscles.

Use child-sized, unbreakable utensils. A small spoon with a short, straight handle is easy for a child to use. A small cup with a broad mouth and a weighted bottom does not tip easily. A dish with a rim or sides makes it easy to push food onto the spoon.

Use child-sized, unbreakable utensils

Small Stomach = Small Appetite

Your child’s stomach is small. His appetite will also be small. His body will tell him when he is hungry or full. Follow your child’s lead. Offer food and leave it up to him to decide how much, if any, he will eat. Offering small amounts frequently is important.

Your toddler’s eating habits will be unpredictable from one day to the next. He may eat only his favourite food for three days in a row, then not eat it at all. He may eat a large breakfast and then very little for the rest of the day. “He was such a good eater and now he is not!” is a common concern for parents.

Click a topic below for more information.

Food Safety

5 Steps to Food Safety

  • Do not give a child of any age an energy drink.
  • Cooked eggs are safe for your baby. The yolk should be cooked well and not runny.
  • Raw eggs in raw cookie dough or cake batter can make your child sick. Bake anything that has eggs in it thoroughly before giving it to a child.
  • Fish is safe if it is broken into small pieces. Be sure that all bones are removed.
  • Peanuts are small and can lead to risk of choking for babies.
  • Peanut butter can stick in your child’s mouth. Spread peanut butter thinly on crackers or bread to make it safer and easier to swallow.
  • Remove pits or large seeds from fruit. Cut grapes in halves or quarters and remove seeds.
  • Cut wieners lengthwise then in small pieces.
  • Unpasteurized honey is not recommended until your baby is at least two years old. Pasteurized honey can be given after one year. Do not feed honey to a baby who is under the age of one year. This can cause botulism.
  • The following are choking hazards for your baby. Avoid them until your child is at least four years old:
    • raisins, gum, hard candies, marshmallows
    • popcorn, nuts, sunflower seeds
    • any food with toothpicks or skewers

Food Allergies (6 months to 5 years)

It is safe to introduce most foods during your baby’s first year. This includes foods like peanuts, fish, and egg whites. Introducing these foods earlier than 12-24 months of age might lower the chance of your baby being allergic to them. Offer new foods every 2-4 days and watch for signs of an allergic reaction.

emergency

If your child has any symptoms of an allergic reaction, take him immediately to the nearest emergency room or healthcare provider.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:

  • hives, skin redness, or rash
  • swelling of the face, tongue, or lips
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea, or blood in bowel movement
  • coughing or wheezing
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of consciousness

If you or another family member has a serious allergy to any food, talk to your healthcare provider before introducing these foods to your child.

Vegetables and Fruit (1-5 Years)

Vegetables and fruit are important to stay healthy. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. They can help to protect your child from getting sick. They will also help your child be healthy later in life.

Vegetables and Fruit

The amount of vegetables and fruits increases as your child gets older.

Juice

Remember to avoid giving children juice. Juice has a lot of sugar in it and can lead to dental cavities. It can lower your child’s appetite for other foods.

Meat and Alternatives (1-5 years)

Meat and alternatives are important for your child to stay healthy. Meat and alternatives provide protein to help build, maintain, and repair muscles throughout the body. Muscles and organs (such as your heart) are made of protein. Meat and alternatives also provide iron, which is important for carrying oxygen in the body.

Meat and Alternatives

Some parents choose to raise their children as vegetarians or vegans for religious, cultural or lifestyle reasons. Your child may choose not to eat meats as he gets older. Talk to your healthcare provider or a dietitian to make sure your child is getting the calories, vitamins, minerals, and fat that he needs for growth and development.

Grains (1-5 years)

Grain products are important to stay healthy. Grain products, like some cereals, are often fortified with folic acid, folate, and/or vitamin B12. These help your child’s brain and nervous system to develop. Grains are also a source of fibre, which helps your child have a healthy digestion system.

Grains can also give your child’s body energy to be active throughout the day. However, in order to provide the nutrition your child needs, be sure to also provide other sources of energy. These sources include lean meats, fish, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

The amount of grains increases as the child gets older.

Grains

Choose grain products made from whole grains (e.g., whole wheat, oats, barely) rather than white flour when you can.

Products such as cakes and cookies can be high in sugar, fat, and sodium. Avoid these as much as possible. These should not be considered a serving of grains.

Milk and Alternatives (1-5 Years)

Milk and alternatives are important for your child to stay healthy. They are a great source of calcium and vitamin D, which is important to building strong and healthy bones.

Milk and Alternatives

Until your child is two years old, give him whole milk (3% or whole).

Some parents choose to raise their children as vegans for religious, cultural, or lifestyle reasons. Your child may choose not to eat meats as he gets older. Talk to your healthcare provider or a dietitian to make sure your child is getting the calories, vitamins, minerals, and fat that he needs for growth and development.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets (0 – 5 Year)

Have you decided to feed your child a vegetarian or vegan diet for cultural, religious or lifestyle reasons? It is important to make sure that she is getting the calories and nutrients she needs to grow.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Children Under 2

If your child is less than two years old, she might not get all of the nutrition she needs on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Therefore, your child may need additional supplements. Talk to your healthcare provider before introducing a toddler to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Nutrients

If your child does not eat meat, she must get protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 from other foods. If your child does not eat or drink milk products, she will need to get calcium and vitamin D from other food sources. These nutrients have important roles in her body.

Sources of Nutrition for Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Protein
  • breast milk or formula for babies
  • soy products (tofu, veggie burgers, soy cheese) (not until child is 2 years old)
  • whole milk (not until child is 9 months old)
  • cheese or yogurt (not until child is 9 months old)
  • fortified soy beverages (not until child is 2 years old)
  • eggs (pureed or mashed for children under 2)
  • legumes (dried beans and lentils)
  • nuts and seeds (whole or buttered)
Iron
  • iron-fortified cereals
  • legumes
  • soy products (not until child is 2 years old)
  • iron-fortified pasta
  • dried fruit
  • dark green vegetables
Zinc
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains
Vitamin B12
  • dairy products (not until child is 9 months old)
  • eggs
  • soy products (not until child is 2 years old)
Calcium
  • tofu (not until child is 2 years old)
  • legumes
  • leafy green vegetables
  • dairy products (not until child is 9 months old)
  • almonds (supervise child as this can be a choking hazard)
Vitamin D
  • soft margarine
  • fortified soy milk (not until child is 2 years old)
  • whole milk (not until child is 9 months old)

Well-planned vegetarian diets can be made healthy for your child. Ask your doctor for a referral to see a registered dietitian. The dietitian will help make sure your child is meeting her nutritional needs while following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Iron (0- 1 and 1 year)

Infants around 7-12 months of age are growing so fast that they need foods that contain iron. Iron is an important mineral because it carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. It helps build red blood cells in the body. It helps the brain develop. Iron also helps all the cells in the body work.

If your child does not get enough iron, he will develop anemia. Anemia is a medical condition where you don’t have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin in your blood. The symptoms of anemia in young children include fussy behaviours, irritability, difficulty learning, tired, weak, not gaining a lot of weight, and less interest in eating.

Newborns are born with iron in their bodies. They also get iron from breast milk and formula. The iron that they had at birth starts to run out when they are six months old. Because of this, children start to need iron from food that they eat.

You can get iron through food. The main sources of iron in foods are red meat, fish, and chicken, iron-fortified infant cereal. Iron is also found in lentils, dried beans, green leafy vegetables, and eggs yolks.

healthy eating foods

Cow’s milk contains very little iron. Once you switch to cow’s milk, your child must get iron from other foods to help him be healthy.

Vitamin C will help your child absorb iron. Good sources of vitamin C include cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, oranges, cantaloupe, kiwi, bananas, strawberries, and green, yellow, and red peppers.

Vitamin C

Meal Time: Your Role; Your Child’s Role (0-5 Years)

It is your job as a parent to be a good role model and eat healthy foods. It is also your job to offer healthy foods to your child. And, it is also your responsibility to determine where your child will eat, for example at the kitchen table, and when the child will eat. It is important to have a regular schedule for meals and snacks.

Meal Time

It is your child’s job to decide how much to eat, what he will eat, and if he will eat at all.

It can be hard for some parents to trust their child to determine how much and if he will eat. However, children have a natural ability to determine how much food they need. If they are given healthy foods, they eat as much as they need to grow.

If children are taught they need to ‘clean their plates’ or ‘have two more bites’, their natural body cues for hunger and fullness do not work as well.

If your child is growing well, he is getting the right amount of food that he needs.

Healthy Eating (2-3 Years Old)

Canada’s Food Guide

The Canada Food Guide provides information about the types of food your child should be eating. Click here for more information on the amounts of food your child should be eating.

Offer child-sized portions. A portion is the amount of food you choose to feed your child at each meal and snack. A guideline for a portion is about 15 mL (1 tbsp.) of food for each year of age. Remember that your child may not choose to eat the whole portion at one time but over the course of a day. For more information, please click here.

Offer your child different foods throughout the day.

If your child has any food restrictions or allergies, close attention should be made so she receives all of the nutrients she needs to stay healthy.

Healthy Foods and Routines

Snacks and meals should be given around the same time each day. Routine is important to your child’s development.

Provide nutritious food choices at main meals. These should be given sitting at the table. Mealtime is a good opportunity to spend time together.

Provide lots of snacks during the day.

One of the easiest ways to get your toddler into good eating habits is to offer healthy food choices. Here are some examples of healthy snacks.

  • Dry, unsweetened cereal and a glass of milk
  • Meat, cheese, or peanut butter sandwich
  • Graham crackers or oatmeal cookies
  • Banana, pumpkin, or zucchini bread
  • Fresh, dried, or canned unsweetened fruit
  • Raw vegetables cut in strips
  • Cooked pasta with fresh vegetables
  • Plain yogurt with fruit
  • Cheese cubes

Introducing Milk Lower in Fat and Milk Alternatives

Is your child eating a variety of foods from the food groups? Is she growing well? You may choose to switch to lower-fat milk (2%). The switch from high-fat to lower-fat milk should be made gradually.

Introducing Milk

At this time, it is safe to introduce almond milk, soy milk, hemp milk, or rice milk. Soy milk is recommended for young children over other milk-free alternatives. Compare labels and choose milk or milk-free alternatives that contain the recommended amount of protein, calcium, and Vitamin D.

Introducing New Foods

Your child will learn most by copying you. If you eat nutritious foods, she will likely follow your lead. Try new foods. Serve foods that may not be your favourites. Let her decide if she will like that food. It can take 8-12 times or more for a toddler to decide if she will like a food.

Introducing New Foods

Teach your child that trying new food is fun. Your child will quickly learn that being fussy about food can give her a lot of attention. To decrease fuss, add an unfamiliar food when serving a food that your child already enjoys.

Water

Encourage your child to satisfy her thirst with water.

Encourage your child to satisfy her thirst with water.

Juice

Do not give your child juice and pop.

Juice and pop contain a lot of sugar. Even 100% fruit juice is high in sugar.

Sugary drinks can cause dental cavities. When you eat sugar, the sugar is changed to an acid by bacteria that is in your mouth. The acid dissolves the outer part of the teeth, called enamel. Holes in your teeth’s enamel are called cavities.

Juice and pop can also lower your baby’s appetite for healthy foods. Juice can also cause diarrhea.

Cavities, lowered appetite, and diarrhea can happen even if you dilute the juice with water.

Small Stomach = Small Appetite

Your child’s stomach is still small. She will need to be offered food every few hours. Many young children eat three meals and two to three snacks throughout the day.

Trust her appetite. Do not force her to finish her plate. Forcing your child to finish everything on her plate prevents her from learning to listen to her body so she will stop eating when she is full. If your child is forced to override her body’s signals, she may be training her body to develop weight control problems later in life.

Some days she will want less food than other days. Some days she will want more food. Your child will continue to eat more one day than the next. She may eat the same food for three days in a row, then not want to eat it the next day. She may only eat a few swallows or bites. Other times, she will eat more than you can think she can.

Your child will eat a balanced diet over several days.

Click here for more information on the following topics.

Food Safety

5 Steps to Food Safety

  • Do not give a child of any age an energy drink.
  • Cooked eggs are safe for your baby. The yolk should be cooked well and not runny.
  • Raw eggs in raw cookie dough or cake batter can make your child sick. Bake anything that has eggs in it thoroughly before giving it to a child.
  • Fish is safe if it is broken into small pieces. Be sure that all bones are removed.
  • Peanuts are small and can lead to risk of choking for babies.
  • Peanut butter can stick in your child’s mouth. Spread peanut butter thinly on crackers or bread to make it safer and easier to swallow.
  • Remove pits or large seeds from fruit. Cut grapes in halves or quarters and remove seeds.
  • Cut wieners lengthwise then in small pieces.
  • Unpasteurized honey is not recommended until your baby is at least two years old. Pasteurized honey can be given after one year. Do not feed honey to a baby who is under the age of one year. This can cause botulism.
  • The following are choking hazards for your baby. Avoid them until your child is at least four years old:
    • raisins, gum, hard candies, marshmallows
    • popcorn, nuts, sunflower seeds
    • any food with toothpicks or skewers

Food Allergies (6 months to 5 years)

It is safe to introduce most foods during your baby’s first year. This includes foods like peanuts, fish, and egg whites. Introducing these foods earlier than 12-24 months of age might lower the chance of your baby being allergic to them. Offer new foods every 2-4 days and watch for signs of an allergic reaction.

emergency

If your child has any symptoms of an allergic reaction, take him immediately to the nearest emergency room or healthcare provider.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:

  • hives, skin redness, or rash
  • swelling of the face, tongue, or lips
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea, or blood in bowel movement
  • coughing or wheezing
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of consciousness

If you or another family member has a serious allergy to any food, talk to your healthcare provider before introducing these foods to your child.

Vegetables and Fruit (1-5 Years)

Vegetables and fruit are important to stay healthy. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. They can help to protect your child from getting sick. They will also help your child be healthy later in life.

Vegetables and Fruit

The number of servings of vegetables and fruits increases as your child gets older. By the time your child is four years old, he will need five servings of vegetables and fruit each day.

Juice

Remember to avoid giving children juice. Juice has a lot of sugar in it and can lead to dental cavities. It can lower your child’s appetite for other foods.

Meat and Alternatives (1-5 years)

Meat and alternatives are important for your child to stay healthy. Meat and alternatives provide protein to help build, maintain, and repair muscles throughout the body. Muscles and organs (such as your heart) are made of protein. Meat and alternatives also provide iron, which is important for carrying oxygen in the body.

Meat and Alternatives

Some parents choose to raise their children as vegetarians or vegans for religious, cultural or lifestyle reasons. Your child may choose not to eat meats as he gets older. Talk to your healthcare provider or a dietitian to make sure your child is getting the calories, vitamins, minerals, and fat that he needs for growth and development.

Grains (1-5 years)

Grain products are important to stay healthy. Grain products, like some cereals, are often fortified with folic acid, folate, and/or vitamin B12. These help your child’s brain and nervous system to develop. Grains are also a source of fibre, which helps your child have a healthy digestion system.

Grains can also give your child’s body energy to be active throughout the day. However, in order to provide the nutrition your child needs, be sure to also provide other sources of energy. These sources include lean meats, fish, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

The number of servings of grains increases as the child gets older. A child who is 2-3 years old should eat three servings of grain products a day. By the time your child is four years old, he will need four servings of grain products a day.

Grains

Choose grain products made from whole grains (e.g., whole wheat, oats, barely) rather than white flour when you can.

Products such as cakes and cookies can be high in sugar, fat, and sodium. Avoid these as much as possible. These should not be considered a serving of grains.

Milk and Alternatives (1-5 Years)

Milk and alternatives are important for your child to stay healthy. They are a great source of calcium and vitamin D, which is important to building strong and healthy bones.

Milk and Alternatives

Your child needs two servings of milk daily. Until your child is two years old, give him whole milk (3% or whole).

Some parents choose to raise their children as vegans for religious, cultural, or lifestyle reasons. Your child may choose not to eat meats as he gets older. Talk to your healthcare provider or a dietitian to make sure your child is getting the calories, vitamins, minerals, and fat that he needs for growth and development.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets (0 – 5 Year)

Have you decided to feed your child a vegetarian or vegan diet for cultural, religious or lifestyle reasons? It is important to make sure that she is getting the calories and nutrients she needs to grow.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Children Under 2

If your child is less than two years old, she might not get all of the nutrition she needs on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Therefore, your child may need additional supplements. Talk to your healthcare provider before introducing a toddler to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Nutrients

If your child does not eat meat, she must get protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 from other foods. If your child does not eat or drink milk products, she will need to get calcium and vitamin D from other food sources. These nutrients have important roles in her body.

Sources of Nutrition for Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Protein
  • breast milk or formula for babies
  • soy products (tofu, veggie burgers, soy cheese) (not until child is 2 years old)
  • whole milk (not until child is 9 months old)
  • cheese or yogurt (not until child is 9 months old)
  • fortified soy beverages (not until child is 2 years old)
  • eggs (pureed or mashed for children under 2)
  • legumes (dried beans and lentils)
  • nuts and seeds (whole or buttered)
Iron
  • iron-fortified cereals
  • legumes
  • soy products (not until child is 2 years old)
  • iron-fortified pasta
  • dried fruit
  • dark green vegetables
Zinc
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains
Vitamin B12
  • dairy products (not until child is 9 months old)
  • eggs
  • soy products (not until child is 2 years old)
Calcium
  • tofu (not until child is 2 years old)
  • legumes
  • leafy green vegetables
  • dairy products (not until child is 9 months old)
  • almonds (supervise child as this can be a choking hazard)
Vitamin D
  • soft margarine
  • fortified soy milk (not until child is 2 years old)
  • whole milk (not until child is 9 months old)

Well-planned vegetarian diets can be made healthy for your child. Ask your doctor for a referral to see a registered dietitian. The dietitian will help make sure your child is meeting her nutritional needs while following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Iron (0- 1 and 1 year)

Infants around 7-12 months of age are growing so fast that they need foods that contain iron. Iron is an important mineral because it carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. It helps build red blood cells in the body. It helps the brain develop. Iron also helps all the cells in the body work.

If your child does not get enough iron, he will develop anemia. Anemia is a medical condition where you don’t have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin in your blood. The symptoms of anemia in young children include fussy behaviours, irritability, difficulty learning, tired, weak, not gaining a lot of weight, and less interest in eating.

Newborns are born with iron in their bodies. They also get iron from breast milk and formula. The iron that they had at birth starts to run out when they are six months old. Because of this, children start to need iron from food that they eat.

You can get iron through food. The main sources of iron in foods are red meat, fish, and chicken, iron-fortified infant cereal. Iron is also found in lentils, dried beans, green leafy vegetables, and eggs yolks.

healthy eating foods

Cow’s milk contains very little iron. Once you switch to cow’s milk, your child must get iron from other foods to help him be healthy.

Vitamin C will help your child absorb iron. Good sources of vitamin C include cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, oranges, cantaloupe, kiwi, bananas, strawberries, and green, yellow, and red peppers.

Vitamin C

Meal Time: Your Role; Your Child’s Role (0-5 Years)

It is your job as a parent to be a good role model and eat healthy foods. It is also your job to offer healthy foods to your child. And, it is also your responsibility to determine where your child will eat, for example at the kitchen table, and when the child will eat. It is important to have a regular schedule for meals and snacks.

Meal Time

It is your child’s job to decide how much to eat, what he will eat, and if he will eat at all.

It can be hard for some parents to trust their child to determine how much and if he will eat. However, children have a natural ability to determine how much food they need. If they are given healthy foods, they eat as much as they need to grow.

If children are taught they need to ‘clean their plates’ or ‘have two more bites’, their natural body cues for hunger and fullness do not work as well.

If your child is growing well, he is getting the right amount of food that he needs.

Drinking (3 -5 Years)

Water is the healthiest drink for your active child. Encourage your child to satisfy his thirst with water. Aim for your child to have 480 mL (2 cups) a day.

Offer your child whole vegetables and fruit rather than fruit juice. Fruits and vegetables in their whole form have lower levels of sugar than juice, e.g., an apple vs. apple juice. If you do offer juice, limit it to 120 mL (1/2 cup) of 100% fruit juice a day. Drinks labeled as fruit drink, fruit punch, or fruit beverage may not contain any real fruit at all. Avoid these drinks.

Please click here for guidelines about drinking milk.

Drinks to Avoid

Drinks such as Kool-Aid®, iced tea, pop, slushes, sport drinks, or other fruit drinks are high in sugar. High-sugar foods and drinks have no nutritional value and will reduce your child’s appetite for more healthy foods. For some children, high-sugar foods may cause unhealthy weight gain.

If your child eats and drinks lots of sweets, he will likely eat less of other foods that are needed to be healthy. Children need your help to limit sweet drinks. A high sugar intake is also the cause for many dental cavities. Sugar from sugary drinks stays on the teeth. This provides a setting for the growth of the bacteria that causes cavities.

Eating crisp or fibrous foods, like celery, can get some of the sugar off of your child’s teeth.

Meal Time Tips (2-5 Years)

Offer your child small portions, with second helpings if he asks for them. Remember the portion size guide: 15 mL (1 tbsp.) of each food per year of age.

Try to choose healthy snacks like fruit, vegetables, or cooked eggs. This reduces the chance of cavities and other problems associated with too many sweets or high-fat foods.

Meal Time Tips

Avoid using food as a reward for good behaviour. It can create a dependence on food for emotional rather than physical needs.

Consider if your child’s request for a snack is an actual need for food or because he is bored. What he may really want is to play a game or have time alone with you.

Eating when concentrating on another activity, such as watching TV, may lead to over/under eating. Discourage this practice.

Children naturally like nutritious foods in all the food groups. Consider your child’s food preferences when preparing meals. The carrots do not need to be cooked. Your preschooler will probably prefer them raw and cut in sticks. Children tend to prefer bright, colourful food selections in separate portions – not mixed together. Serve cooked foods warm, but not hot, because a child’s mouth is much more sensitive than an adult’s.

Let your child help plan and prepare the family’s meals. He is more likely to eat foods he helped choose and prepare.

There are foods that parents dislike and choose not to eat. Children are no different. Forcing your child to clean his plate prevents him from learning to listen to his body and stop eating when he is full. If your child forces himself to ignore his body’s feeling of fullness, he may develop weight control problems later in life.

Offer new foods casually. Don’t make a big deal out of this. Let your child decide for himself whether he tries the new food. Encourage, but do not force, him to try one bite. Reinforce the idea that it is fun to try something new. Your child quickly learns that being fussy about food can give him a lot of attention.

Parents sometimes find that children snack so much that they are not hungry at mealtime. This is not a problem if the snacks are healthy foods.

The snack could be part of a meal the child didn’t eat or the meal that is still to come. Your child’s stomach is small. If he is very active, he will need to eat often to meet all his energy needs.

If you provide a cheerful, relaxed, and casual atmosphere that is free of stress, your child will learn to enjoy eating. If a power struggle develops over food, no one wins. Remember that your child is trying to become independent.

The most important influence on your child’s food habits is your example. Children learn most by imitation. If you eat and enjoy nutritious foods, he will too.

Sugar (1-5 Years)

High sugar intake can lower a child’s appetite. As a result, your child will likely eat less of other foods needed to be healthy. Children need your help to limit sweet treats.

Drinks such as Kool-Aid®, iced tea, pop, slushes, or fruit juice are high in sugar. Limit 100% fruit juice to 120 mL (1/2 cup) a day, and offer only after meals rather than in between meals. Do not offer other high-sugar drinks. Like other high-sugar foods, they have no nutritional value and will reduce your child’s appetite for more healthy foods.

A high sugar intake is also the cause for many dental cavities. Sticky, sugary snack foods stay on the teeth. This provides a setting for the growth of the bacteria that causes cavities. Limit sweets to mealtimes, rather than eating sweets throughout the day. Crisp or fibrous foods help the rinsing action in the mouth.

Salt (1-5 Years)

Eating too much salt will affect children’s blood pressure. Too much salt can put your child at risk for chronic diseases later in life.

The eating habits that your child has now will affect his eating habits later in life.

Now that your child is eating what the rest of the family is eating, it is important to continue to limit salt in foods.

Compare labels and buy foods with lower salt. Salt is called sodium on labels. Choose foods that the Nutrition Fact Table states has a serving size less than 15% DV (daily value) for sodium. Or, look at two different products (e.g., crackers) and choose the one with less sodium per serving size.

Caffeine (1-5 Years)

More research is needed to understand the effect of caffeine on young children’s bodies. Caffeine can make a child sleepless, restless, and irritable.

Many of the foods and drinks that have caffeine in them also have sugar, e.g., pop.

In early childhood, young children develop taste habits or preferences. Foods that contain caffeine may become a taste habit. It is difficult to change a habit once it is formed.

Cocoa, coffee, tea, and chocolate bars contain caffeine. It is a good idea to limit these items.

Cocoa, coffee, tea, and chocolate bars contain caffeine

Healthy Eating (3-4 Years Old)

The Canada Food Guide provides information about the amount types of food your child should be eating. Click here for more information on the amounts of food your child should be eating.

Offer child-sized portions. A portion is the amount of food you choose to feed your child at each meal and snack. A guideline for a portion is about 15 mL (1 tbsp.) of food for each year of age. Remember that your child may not choose to eat the whole portion at one time but over the course of a day. For more information, please click here.

Each day, your child should be getting food from each food group.

Click on each link below to learn more about how each food group helps your child be healthy.

Serve Healthy Foods

Food must be chosen carefully to be sure that your child receives the right amount of nutrients. A child cannot choose nutritious foods on the basis of taste alone.

Serve Healthy Foods

The preference for sweets is natural. Your child will instinctively choose sweet and salty tasting foods. This means that your child may not get enough of some nutrients if you leave all food choices to him. Remember that it is your role as a parent to offer your child nutritious food options and it is your child’s role to decide how much he will eat.

Serve healthy foods and try to limit foods that have a lot of added sugar and salt. Foods and drinks with caffeine can also have a negative impact on your child.

Water

Encourage your child to satisfy her thirst with water.

Encourage your child to satisfy her thirst with water.

Juice

Do not give your child juice or pop.

Juice and pop contain a lot of sugar. Even 100% fruit juice is high in sugar.

Sugary drinks can cause dental cavities. When you eat sugar, the sugar is changed to an acid by bacteria that is in your mouth. The acid dissolves the outer part of the teeth, called enamel. Holes in your teeth’s enamel are called cavities.

Juice and pop can also lower your baby’s appetite for healthy foods. Juice can also cause diarrhea.

Cavities, lowered appetite, and diarrhea can happen even if you dilute the juice with water.

Click on the links below to learn more.

Food Safety

5 Steps to Food Safety

  • Do not give a child of any age an energy drink.
  • Cooked eggs are safe for your baby. The yolk should be cooked well and not runny.
  • Raw eggs in raw cookie dough or cake batter can make your child sick. Bake anything that has eggs in it thoroughly before giving it to a child.
  • Fish is safe if it is broken into small pieces. Be sure that all bones are removed.
  • Peanuts are small and can lead to risk of choking for babies.
  • Peanut butter can stick in your child’s mouth. Spread peanut butter thinly on crackers or bread to make it safer and easier to swallow.
  • Remove pits or large seeds from fruit. Cut grapes in halves or quarters and remove seeds.
  • Cut wieners lengthwise then in small pieces.
  • Unpasteurized honey is not recommended until your baby is at least two years old. Pasteurized honey can be given after one year. Do not feed honey to a baby who is under the age of one year. This can cause botulism.
  • The following are choking hazards for your baby. Avoid them until your child is at least four years old:
    • raisins, gum, hard candies, marshmallows
    • popcorn, nuts, sunflower seeds
    • any food with toothpicks or skewers

Food Allergies (6 months to 5 years)

It is safe to introduce most foods during your baby’s first year. This includes foods like peanuts, fish, and egg whites. Introducing these foods earlier than 12-24 months of age might lower the chance of your baby being allergic to them. Offer new foods every 2-4 days and watch for signs of an allergic reaction.

emergency

If your child has any symptoms of an allergic reaction, take him immediately to the nearest emergency room or healthcare provider.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:

  • hives, skin redness, or rash
  • swelling of the face, tongue, or lips
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea, or blood in bowel movement
  • coughing or wheezing
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of consciousness

If you or another family member has a serious allergy to any food, talk to your healthcare provider before introducing these foods to your child.

Vegetables and Fruit (1-5 Years)

Vegetables and fruit are important to stay healthy. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. They can help to protect your child from getting sick. They will also help your child be healthy later in life.

Vegetables and Fruit

The number of servings of vegetables and fruits increases as your child gets older. By the time your child is four years old, he will need five servings of vegetables and fruit each day.

Juice

Remember to avoid giving children juice. Juice has a lot of sugar in it and can lead to dental cavities. It can lower your child’s appetite for other foods.

Meat and Alternatives (1-5 years)

Meat and alternatives are important for your child to stay healthy. Meat and alternatives provide protein to help build, maintain, and repair muscles throughout the body. Muscles and organs (such as your heart) are made of protein. Meat and alternatives also provide iron, which is important for carrying oxygen in the body.

Meat and Alternatives

Some parents choose to raise their children as vegetarians or vegans for religious, cultural or lifestyle reasons. Your child may choose not to eat meats as he gets older. Talk to your healthcare provider or a dietitian to make sure your child is getting the calories, vitamins, minerals, and fat that he needs for growth and development.

Grains (1-5 years)

Grain products are important to stay healthy. Grain products, like some cereals, are often fortified with folic acid, folate, and/or vitamin B12. These help your child’s brain and nervous system to develop. Grains are also a source of fibre, which helps your child have a healthy digestion system.

Grains can also give your child’s body energy to be active throughout the day. However, in order to provide the nutrition your child needs, be sure to also provide other sources of energy. These sources include lean meats, fish, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

The number of servings of grains increases as the child gets older. A child who is 2-3 years old should eat three servings of grain products a day. By the time your child is four years old, he will need four servings of grain products a day.

Grains

Choose grain products made from whole grains (e.g., whole wheat, oats, barely) rather than white flour when you can.

Products such as cakes and cookies can be high in sugar, fat, and sodium. Avoid these as much as possible. These should not be considered a serving of grains.

Milk and Alternatives (1-5 Years)

Milk and alternatives are important for your child to stay healthy. They are a great source of calcium and vitamin D, which is important to building strong and healthy bones.

Milk and Alternatives

Your child needs two servings of milk daily. Until your child is two years old, give him whole milk (3% or whole).

Some parents choose to raise their children as vegans for religious, cultural, or lifestyle reasons. Your child may choose not to eat meats as he gets older. Talk to your healthcare provider or a dietitian to make sure your child is getting the calories, vitamins, minerals, and fat that he needs for growth and development.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets (0 – 5 Year)

Have you decided to feed your child a vegetarian or vegan diet for cultural, religious or lifestyle reasons? It is important to make sure that she is getting the calories and nutrients she needs to grow.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Children Under 2

If your child is less than two years old, she might not get all of the nutrition she needs on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Therefore, your child may need additional supplements. Talk to your healthcare provider before introducing a toddler to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Nutrients

If your child does not eat meat, she must get protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 from other foods. If your child does not eat or drink milk products, she will need to get calcium and vitamin D from other food sources. These nutrients have important roles in her body.

Sources of Nutrition for Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Protein
  • breast milk or formula for babies
  • soy products (tofu, veggie burgers, soy cheese) (not until child is 2 years old)
  • whole milk (not until child is 9 months old)
  • cheese or yogurt (not until child is 9 months old)
  • fortified soy beverages (not until child is 2 years old)
  • eggs (pureed or mashed for children under 2)
  • legumes (dried beans and lentils)
  • nuts and seeds (whole or buttered)
Iron
  • iron-fortified cereals
  • legumes
  • soy products (not until child is 2 years old)
  • iron-fortified pasta
  • dried fruit
  • dark green vegetables
Zinc
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains
Vitamin B12
  • dairy products (not until child is 9 months old)
  • eggs
  • soy products (not until child is 2 years old)
Calcium
  • tofu (not until child is 2 years old)
  • legumes
  • leafy green vegetables
  • dairy products (not until child is 9 months old)
  • almonds (supervise child as this can be a choking hazard)
Vitamin D
  • soft margarine
  • fortified soy milk (not until child is 2 years old)
  • whole milk (not until child is 9 months old)

Well-planned vegetarian diets can be made healthy for your child. Ask your doctor for a referral to see a registered dietitian. The dietitian will help make sure your child is meeting her nutritional needs while following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Meal Time: Your Role; Your Child’s Role (0-5 Years)

It is your job as a parent to be a good role model and eat healthy foods. It is also your job to offer healthy foods to your child. And, it is also your responsibility to determine where your child will eat, for example at the kitchen table, and when the child will eat. It is important to have a regular schedule for meals and snacks.

Meal Time

It is your child’s job to decide how much to eat, what he will eat, and if he will eat at all.

It can be hard for some parents to trust their child to determine how much and if he will eat. However, children have a natural ability to determine how much food they need. If they are given healthy foods, they eat as much as they need to grow.

If children are taught they need to ‘clean their plates’ or ‘have two more bites’, their natural body cues for hunger and fullness do not work as well.

If your child is growing well, he is getting the right amount of food that he needs.

Drinking (3 -5 Years)

Water is the healthiest drink for your active child. Encourage your child to satisfy his thirst with water. Aim for your child to have 480 mL (2 cups) a day.

Offer your child whole vegetables and fruit rather than fruit juice. Fruits and vegetables in their whole form have lower levels of sugar than juice, e.g., an apple vs. apple juice. If you do offer juice, limit it to 120 mL (1/2 cup) of 100% fruit juice a day. Drinks labeled as fruit drink, fruit punch, or fruit beverage may not contain any real fruit at all. Avoid these drinks.

Please click here for guidelines about drinking milk.

Drinks to Avoid

Drinks such as Kool-Aid®, iced tea, pop, slushes, sport drinks, or other fruit drinks are high in sugar. High-sugar foods and drinks have no nutritional value and will reduce your child’s appetite for more healthy foods. For some children, high-sugar foods may cause unhealthy weight gain.

If your child eats and drinks lots of sweets, he will likely eat less of other foods that are needed to be healthy. Children need your help to limit sweet drinks. A high sugar intake is also the cause for many dental cavities. Sugar from sugary drinks stays on the teeth. This provides a setting for the growth of the bacteria that causes cavities.

Eating crisp or fibrous foods, like celery, can get some of the sugar off of your child’s teeth.

Meal Time Tips (2-5 Years)

Offer your child small portions, with second helpings if he asks for them. Remember the portion size guide: 15 mL (1 tbsp.) of each food per year of age.

Try to choose healthy snacks like fruit, vegetables, or cooked eggs. This reduces the chance of cavities and other problems associated with too many sweets or high-fat foods.

Meal Time Tips

Avoid using food as a reward for good behaviour. It can create a dependence on food for emotional rather than physical needs.

Consider if your child’s request for a snack is an actual need for food or because he is bored. What he may really want is to play a game or have time alone with you.

Eating when concentrating on another activity, such as watching TV, may lead to over/under eating. Discourage this practice.

Children naturally like nutritious foods in all the food groups. Consider your child’s food preferences when preparing meals. The carrots do not need to be cooked. Your preschooler will probably prefer them raw and cut in sticks. Children tend to prefer bright, colourful food selections in separate portions – not mixed together. Serve cooked foods warm, but not hot, because a child’s mouth is much more sensitive than an adult’s.

Let your child help plan and prepare the family’s meals. He is more likely to eat foods he helped choose and prepare.

There are foods that parents dislike and choose not to eat. Children are no different. Forcing your child to clean his plate prevents him from learning to listen to his body and stop eating when he is full. If your child forces himself to ignore his body’s feeling of fullness, he may develop weight control problems later in life.

Offer new foods casually. Don’t make a big deal out of this. Let your child decide for himself whether he tries the new food. Encourage, but do not force, him to try one bite. Reinforce the idea that it is fun to try something new. Your child quickly learns that being fussy about food can give him a lot of attention.

Parents sometimes find that children snack so much that they are not hungry at mealtime. This is not a problem if the snacks are healthy foods.

The snack could be part of a meal the child didn’t eat or the meal that is still to come. Your child’s stomach is small. If he is very active, he will need to eat often to meet all his energy needs.

If you provide a cheerful, relaxed, and casual atmosphere that is free of stress, your child will learn to enjoy eating. If a power struggle develops over food, no one wins. Remember that your child is trying to become independent.

The most important influence on your child’s food habits is your example. Children learn most by imitation. If you eat and enjoy nutritious foods, he will too.

Sugar (1-5 Years)

High sugar intake can lower a child’s appetite. As a result, your child will likely eat less of other foods needed to be healthy. Children need your help to limit sweet treats.

Drinks such as Kool-Aid®, iced tea, pop, slushes, or fruit juice are high in sugar. Limit 100% fruit juice to 120 mL (1/2 cup) a day, and offer only after meals rather than in between meals. Do not offer other high-sugar drinks. Like other high-sugar foods, they have no nutritional value and will reduce your child’s appetite for more healthy foods.

A high sugar intake is also the cause for many dental cavities. Sticky, sugary snack foods stay on the teeth. This provides a setting for the growth of the bacteria that causes cavities. Limit sweets to mealtimes, rather than eating sweets throughout the day. Crisp or fibrous foods help the rinsing action in the mouth.

Salt (1-5 Years)

Eating too much salt will affect children’s blood pressure. Too much salt can put your child at risk for chronic diseases later in life.

The eating habits that your child has now will affect his eating habits later in life.

Now that your child is eating what the rest of the family is eating, it is important to continue to limit salt in foods.

Compare labels and buy foods with lower salt. Salt is called sodium on labels. Choose foods that the Nutrition Fact Table states has a serving size less than 15% DV (daily value) for sodium. Or, look at two different products (e.g., crackers) and choose the one with less sodium per serving size.

Caffeine (1-5 Years)

More research is needed to understand the effect of caffeine on young children’s bodies. Caffeine can make a child sleepless, restless, and irritable.

Many of the foods and drinks that have caffeine in them also have sugar, e.g., pop.

In early childhood, young children develop taste habits or preferences. Foods that contain caffeine may become a taste habit. It is difficult to change a habit once it is formed.

Cocoa, coffee, tea, and chocolate bars contain caffeine. It is a good idea to limit these items.

Cocoa, coffee, tea, and chocolate bars contain caffeine

Healthy Eating (4-5 Years Old)

The Canada Food Guide provides information about the amount types of food your child should be eating. Click here for more information on the amounts of food your child should be eating.

Offer child-sized portions. A portion is the amount of food you choose to feed your child at each meal and snack. A guideline for a portion is about 15 mL (1 tbsp.) of food for each year of age. Remember that your child may not choose to eat the whole portion at one time but over the course of a day.

Click on each link below to learn more about how each food group helps your child be healthy.

Offer a variety of healthy food to your child every day. Be sure to include some choices that contain fat, e.g., 2% milk, peanut butter, and avocado.

Your child may eat more at some meals than at others. Try not to make a fuss over foods not eaten.

Be patient when offering your child new and unfamiliar foods. Don’t worry if the food is not eaten. Offer the new food again later, in a few days or weeks. The more often your child is exposed to a food, the more likely he will eat and enjoy it.

Healthy Snacks

Offer healthy snacks throughout your child’s day. Healthy snacks provide energy and the nutrition your child needs. Young children benefit from snacks since they may not eat enough at meal times to meet their nutritional needs.

Some examples of healthy snacks include:

  • whole wheat pita triangles with hummus or peanut butter
  • yogurt mixed together with fruit or in a smoothie
  • hard-boiled egg
  • crackers and cheese cubes
  • English muffin with melted cheese and apple slices
  • plain popcorn
  • oven roasted canned chickpeas
  • nuts and dried fruit
  • popsicles made with yogurt
  • fresh, frozen, or canned fruit
  • raw vegetables such as carrots, peppers, zucchini, cherry or grape tomatoes. These can be served alone or with a dip such as salad dressing or hummus.

Limit less healthy foods that are high in calories, sugar, sodium (salt), or less healthy fats. Less healthy foods include cakes, candies, chips, chocolate, cookies, doughnuts, pop, fries, granola bars, ice cream, buttered popcorn, and pastries. These can be offered occasionally, but the majority of food that is offered should be healthy.

Introducing New Foods

Be patient when offering your child new and unfamiliar foods. Try not to make a fuss over foods not eaten. Offer the new food again later, in a few days or weeks. The more often your child is exposed to a food, the more likely he will eat and enjoy it.

Water

Encourage your child to satisfy her thirst with water.

Encourage your child to satisfy her thirst with water.

Juice

Juice and pop contain a lot of sugar. Even 100% fruit juice is high in sugar.

Sugary drinks can cause dental cavities. When you eat sugar, the sugar is changed to an acid by bacteria that is in your mouth. The acid dissolves the outer part of the teeth, called enamel. Holes in your teeth’s enamel are called cavities.

Juice and pop can also lower your baby’s appetite for healthy foods. Juice can also cause diarrhea.

Cavities, lowered appetite, and diarrhea can happen even if you dilute the juice with water.

Allergies and Food Restrictions

If your child has any food restrictions or allergies, close attention should be made so she receives all of the nutrients she needs to stay healthy.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Some parents choose to raise their child as a vegetarian or vegan for cultural, religious, or lifestyle reason. Your child may choose not to eat meats as he gets older. At this age, children can safely follow a vegetarian eating plan.

Click here for more information about vegetarian and vegan diets.

Click on the links below to learn more.

Food Safety

5 Steps to Food Safety

  • Do not give a child of any age an energy drink.
  • Cooked eggs are safe for your baby. The yolk should be cooked well and not runny.
  • Raw eggs in raw cookie dough or cake batter can make your child sick. Bake anything that has eggs in it thoroughly before giving it to a child.
  • Fish is safe if it is broken into small pieces. Be sure that all bones are removed.
  • Peanuts are small and can lead to risk of choking for babies.
  • Peanut butter can stick in your child’s mouth. Spread peanut butter thinly on crackers or bread to make it safer and easier to swallow.
  • Remove pits or large seeds from fruit. Cut grapes in halves or quarters and remove seeds.
  • Cut wieners lengthwise then in small pieces.
  • Unpasteurized honey is not recommended until your baby is at least two years old. Pasteurized honey can be given after one year. Do not feed honey to a baby who is under the age of one year. This can cause botulism.
  • The following are choking hazards for your baby. Avoid them until your child is at least four years old:
    • raisins, gum, hard candies, marshmallows
    • popcorn, nuts, sunflower seeds
    • any food with toothpicks or skewers

Food Allergies (6 months to 5 years)

It is safe to introduce most foods during your baby’s first year. This includes foods like peanuts, fish, and egg whites. Introducing these foods earlier than 12-24 months of age might lower the chance of your baby being allergic to them. Offer new foods every 2-4 days and watch for signs of an allergic reaction.

emergency

If your child has any symptoms of an allergic reaction, take him immediately to the nearest emergency room or healthcare provider.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:

  • hives, skin redness, or rash
  • swelling of the face, tongue, or lips
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea, or blood in bowel movement
  • coughing or wheezing
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of consciousness

If you or another family member has a serious allergy to any food, talk to your healthcare provider before introducing these foods to your child.

Vegetables and Fruit (1-5 Years)

Vegetables and fruit are important to stay healthy. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. They can help to protect your child from getting sick. They will also help your child be healthy later in life.

Vegetables and Fruit

The number of servings of vegetables and fruits increases as your child gets older. By the time your child is four years old, he will need five servings of vegetables and fruit each day.

Juice

Remember to avoid giving children juice. Juice has a lot of sugar in it and can lead to dental cavities. It can lower your child’s appetite for other foods.

Meat and Alternatives (1-5 years)

Meat and alternatives are important for your child to stay healthy. Meat and alternatives provide protein to help build, maintain, and repair muscles throughout the body. Muscles and organs (such as your heart) are made of protein. Meat and alternatives also provide iron, which is important for carrying oxygen in the body.

Meat and Alternatives

Some parents choose to raise their children as vegetarians or vegans for religious, cultural or lifestyle reasons. Your child may choose not to eat meats as he gets older. Talk to your healthcare provider or a dietitian to make sure your child is getting the calories, vitamins, minerals, and fat that he needs for growth and development.

Grains (1-5 years)

Grain products are important to stay healthy. Grain products, like some cereals, are often fortified with folic acid, folate, and/or vitamin B12. These help your child’s brain and nervous system to develop. Grains are also a source of fibre, which helps your child have a healthy digestion system.

Grains can also give your child’s body energy to be active throughout the day. However, in order to provide the nutrition your child needs, be sure to also provide other sources of energy. These sources include lean meats, fish, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

The number of servings of grains increases as the child gets older. A child who is 2-3 years old should eat three servings of grain products a day. By the time your child is four years old, he will need four servings of grain products a day.

Grains

Choose grain products made from whole grains (e.g., whole wheat, oats, barely) rather than white flour when you can.

Products such as cakes and cookies can be high in sugar, fat, and sodium. Avoid these as much as possible. These should not be considered a serving of grains.

Milk and Alternatives (1-5 Years)

Milk and alternatives are important for your child to stay healthy. They are a great source of calcium and vitamin D, which is important to building strong and healthy bones.

Milk and Alternatives

Your child needs two servings of milk daily. Until your child is two years old, give him whole milk (3% or whole).

Some parents choose to raise their children as vegans for religious, cultural, or lifestyle reasons. Your child may choose not to eat meats as he gets older. Talk to your healthcare provider or a dietitian to make sure your child is getting the calories, vitamins, minerals, and fat that he needs for growth and development.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets (0 – 5 Year)

Have you decided to feed your child a vegetarian or vegan diet for cultural, religious or lifestyle reasons? It is important to make sure that she is getting the calories and nutrients she needs to grow.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Children Under 2

If your child is less than two years old, she might not get all of the nutrition she needs on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Therefore, your child may need additional supplements. Talk to your healthcare provider before introducing a toddler to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Nutrients

If your child does not eat meat, she must get protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 from other foods. If your child does not eat or drink milk products, she will need to get calcium and vitamin D from other food sources. These nutrients have important roles in her body.

Sources of Nutrition for Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Protein
  • breast milk or formula for babies
  • soy products (tofu, veggie burgers, soy cheese) (not until child is 2 years old)
  • whole milk (not until child is 9 months old)
  • cheese or yogurt (not until child is 9 months old)
  • fortified soy beverages (not until child is 2 years old)
  • eggs (pureed or mashed for children under 2)
  • legumes (dried beans and lentils)
  • nuts and seeds (whole or buttered)
Iron
  • iron-fortified cereals
  • legumes
  • soy products (not until child is 2 years old)
  • iron-fortified pasta
  • dried fruit
  • dark green vegetables
Zinc
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains
Vitamin B12
  • dairy products (not until child is 9 months old)
  • eggs
  • soy products (not until child is 2 years old)
Calcium
  • tofu (not until child is 2 years old)
  • legumes
  • leafy green vegetables
  • dairy products (not until child is 9 months old)
  • almonds (supervise child as this can be a choking hazard)
Vitamin D
  • soft margarine
  • fortified soy milk (not until child is 2 years old)
  • whole milk (not until child is 9 months old)

Well-planned vegetarian diets can be made healthy for your child. Ask your doctor for a referral to see a registered dietitian. The dietitian will help make sure your child is meeting her nutritional needs while following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Iron (0- 1 and 1 year)

Infants around 7-12 months of age are growing so fast that they need foods that contain iron. Iron is an important mineral because it carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. It helps build red blood cells in the body. It helps the brain develop. Iron also helps all the cells in the body work.

If your child does not get enough iron, he will develop anemia. Anemia is a medical condition where you don’t have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin in your blood. The symptoms of anemia in young children include fussy behaviours, irritability, difficulty learning, tired, weak, not gaining a lot of weight, and less interest in eating.

Newborns are born with iron in their bodies. They also get iron from breast milk and formula. The iron that they had at birth starts to run out when they are six months old. Because of this, children start to need iron from food that they eat.

You can get iron through food. The main sources of iron in foods are red meat, fish, and chicken, iron-fortified infant cereal. Iron is also found in lentils, dried beans, green leafy vegetables, and eggs yolks.

healthy eating foods

Cow’s milk contains very little iron. Once you switch to cow’s milk, your child must get iron from other foods to help him be healthy.

Vitamin C will help your child absorb iron. Good sources of vitamin C include cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, oranges, cantaloupe, kiwi, bananas, strawberries, and green, yellow, and red peppers.

Vitamin C

Meal Time: Your Role; Your Child’s Role (0-5 Years)

It is your job as a parent to be a good role model and eat healthy foods. It is also your job to offer healthy foods to your child. And, it is also your responsibility to determine where your child will eat, for example at the kitchen table, and when the child will eat. It is important to have a regular schedule for meals and snacks.

Meal Time

It is your child’s job to decide how much to eat, what he will eat, and if he will eat at all.

It can be hard for some parents to trust their child to determine how much and if he will eat. However, children have a natural ability to determine how much food they need. If they are given healthy foods, they eat as much as they need to grow.

If children are taught they need to ‘clean their plates’ or ‘have two more bites’, their natural body cues for hunger and fullness do not work as well.

If your child is growing well, he is getting the right amount of food that he needs.

Drinking (3 -5 Years)

Water is the healthiest drink for your active child. Encourage your child to satisfy his thirst with water. Aim for your child to have 480 mL (2 cups) a day.

Offer your child whole vegetables and fruit rather than fruit juice. Fruits and vegetables in their whole form have lower levels of sugar than juice, e.g., an apple vs. apple juice. If you do offer juice, limit it to 120 mL (1/2 cup) of 100% fruit juice a day. Drinks labeled as fruit drink, fruit punch, or fruit beverage may not contain any real fruit at all. Avoid these drinks.

Please click here for guidelines about drinking milk.

Drinks to Avoid

Drinks such as Kool-Aid®, iced tea, pop, slushes, sport drinks, or other fruit drinks are high in sugar. High-sugar foods and drinks have no nutritional value and will reduce your child’s appetite for more healthy foods. For some children, high-sugar foods may cause unhealthy weight gain.

If your child eats and drinks lots of sweets, he will likely eat less of other foods that are needed to be healthy. Children need your help to limit sweet drinks. A high sugar intake is also the cause for many dental cavities. Sugar from sugary drinks stays on the teeth. This provides a setting for the growth of the bacteria that causes cavities.

Eating crisp or fibrous foods, like celery, can get some of the sugar off of your child’s teeth.

Meal Time Tips (2-5 Years)

Offer your child small portions, with second helpings if he asks for them. Remember the portion size guide: 15 mL (1 tbsp.) of each food per year of age.

Try to choose healthy snacks like fruit, vegetables, or cooked eggs. This reduces the chance of cavities and other problems associated with too many sweets or high-fat foods.

Meal Time Tips

Avoid using food as a reward for good behaviour. It can create a dependence on food for emotional rather than physical needs.

Consider if your child’s request for a snack is an actual need for food or because he is bored. What he may really want is to play a game or have time alone with you.

Eating when concentrating on another activity, such as watching TV, may lead to over/under eating. Discourage this practice.

Children naturally like nutritious foods in all the food groups. Consider your child’s food preferences when preparing meals. The carrots do not need to be cooked. Your preschooler will probably prefer them raw and cut in sticks. Children tend to prefer bright, colourful food selections in separate portions – not mixed together. Serve cooked foods warm, but not hot, because a child’s mouth is much more sensitive than an adult’s.

Let your child help plan and prepare the family’s meals. He is more likely to eat foods he helped choose and prepare.

There are foods that parents dislike and choose not to eat. Children are no different. Forcing your child to clean his plate prevents him from learning to listen to his body and stop eating when he is full. If your child forces himself to ignore his body’s feeling of fullness, he may develop weight control problems later in life.

Offer new foods casually. Don’t make a big deal out of this. Let your child decide for himself whether he tries the new food. Encourage, but do not force, him to try one bite. Reinforce the idea that it is fun to try something new. Your child quickly learns that being fussy about food can give him a lot of attention.

Parents sometimes find that children snack so much that they are not hungry at mealtime. This is not a problem if the snacks are healthy foods.

The snack could be part of a meal the child didn’t eat or the meal that is still to come. Your child’s stomach is small. If he is very active, he will need to eat often to meet all his energy needs.

If you provide a cheerful, relaxed, and casual atmosphere that is free of stress, your child will learn to enjoy eating. If a power struggle develops over food, no one wins. Remember that your child is trying to become independent.

The most important influence on your child’s food habits is your example. Children learn most by imitation. If you eat and enjoy nutritious foods, he will too.

Sugar (1-5 Years)

High sugar intake can lower a child’s appetite. As a result, your child will likely eat less of other foods needed to be healthy. Children need your help to limit sweet treats.

Drinks such as Kool-Aid®, iced tea, pop, slushes, or fruit juice are high in sugar. Limit 100% fruit juice to 120 mL (1/2 cup) a day, and offer only after meals rather than in between meals. Do not offer other high-sugar drinks. Like other high-sugar foods, they have no nutritional value and will reduce your child’s appetite for more healthy foods.

A high sugar intake is also the cause for many dental cavities. Sticky, sugary snack foods stay on the teeth. This provides a setting for the growth of the bacteria that causes cavities. Limit sweets to mealtimes, rather than eating sweets throughout the day. Crisp or fibrous foods help the rinsing action in the mouth.

Salt (1-5 Years)

Eating too much salt will affect children’s blood pressure. Too much salt can put your child at risk for chronic diseases later in life.

The eating habits that your child has now will affect his eating habits later in life.

Now that your child is eating what the rest of the family is eating, it is important to continue to limit salt in foods.

Compare labels and buy foods with lower salt. Salt is called sodium on labels. Choose foods that the Nutrition Fact Table states has a serving size less than 15% DV (daily value) for sodium. Or, look at two different products (e.g., crackers) and choose the one with less sodium per serving size.

Caffeine (1-5 Years)

More research is needed to understand the effect of caffeine on young children’s bodies. Caffeine can make a child sleepless, restless, and irritable.

Many of the foods and drinks that have caffeine in them also have sugar, e.g., pop.

In early childhood, young children develop taste habits or preferences. Foods that contain caffeine may become a taste habit. It is difficult to change a habit once it is formed.

Cocoa, coffee, tea, and chocolate bars contain caffeine. It is a good idea to limit these items.

Cocoa, coffee, tea, and chocolate bars contain caffeine

Picky vs. Problem Eaters (3-5 Years)

Developing healthy eating habits in childhood can help to prevent obesity and chronic diseases later. Your child will need your help to develop these healthy habits.

Many parents describe their child as being a picky eater at this age. Picky eating can be common and normal for this age. Some children are problem eaters. It is very difficult to get children who are problem eaters to eat a variety of healthy foods.

Both picky eating and problem eating can be considered a health issue if your child is not growing as he should.

Picky eaters

  • A picky eater will usually eat at least 30 different foods.
  • He eats the same food over and over and then suddenly refuses it. He will then re-start eating this food after a few weeks.
  • He can handle a new food being on his plate even if he does not eat it.
  • He eats at least one food item per food group.
  • Sometimes you may need to feed him different foods than the rest of the family at mealtime.

Problem Eaters

  • A problem eater will usually eat less than 20 different foods.
  • He may eat the same food over and over again and then refuse it. He will not re-start eating this food in a few weeks.
  • Offering new foods usually results in a temper tantrum.
  • He will refuse all foods from a food group.
  • He almost never eats the same foods as the rest of the family.

If you think your child is a problem eater, talk to your doctor or local healthcare provider.

If your child is a picky or problem eater and not growing as he should, your healthcare provider may refer you to a dietitian who can help your child grow appropriately and increase the variety of foods he eats. If needed, your healthcare provider and dietitian may refer you to a psychologist or registered therapist.

Healthy Eating (5 Years Old)

The Canada Food Guide provides information about the amount types of food your child should be eating. Click here for more information on the amounts of food your child should be eating.

Offer child-sized portions. A portion is the amount of food you choose to feed your child at each meal and snack. A guideline for a portion is about 15 mL (1 tbsp.) of food for each year of age. Remember that your child may not choose to eat the whole portion at one time but over the course of a day. For more information, please click here.

Healthy Snacks

Healthy Snacks

Aim for two food groups or more per snack. Include a vegetable/fruit often. Here are some examples:

  • Apple and cheese
  • Celery sticks and hummus
  • Flaked canned tuna and whole wheat crackers
  • Fruit smoothie made with fresh, frozen, or canned fruit and yogurt

Keep in mind that all children will have different needs. Your child may eat a different amount day to day. Know that as he goes through growth spurts, he will want more food than other times.

Click on a link below to learn more about how different foods help your child be healthy.

Breakfast

Be sure to include breakfast each day. Breakfast provides energy and nutrition after a long night of no food intake. Aim for a breakfast that includes at least three of the four food groups.

Be sure to include breakfast each day

Routine

Continue to have consistent times each day for meals and snacks. Say no to eating between meals and snacks. Your child can be given water between these.

Healthy eating is important at home and away from home. Pack healthy lunches for your child so he has the energy to learn and be active at school.

Foster Healthy Relationships with Food

Help your child develop a healthy relationship with food. Trust your child when he is hungry or full. Avoid telling your child to finish everything on his plate. When children are told to finish their plates, this teaches them to eat even when they are full. Let your child decide if he has eaten enough or wants more.

Avoid using food as a reward or punishment. This could lead to overeating and poor food choices.

Involve your child in shopping for food and preparing meals and snacks. If your child has helped in some way with food preparation, he is more likely to try and enjoy it. It can be as simple as him picking out a new fruit or vegetable in the grocery store. In the kitchen, he may choose between two different types of sandwiches and then help you make them. Have the whole family involved in meal prep and clean up.

Share Meals as a Family

Enjoy meal times together as often as possible. Model healthy eating. Avoid eating in front of the television at meal times. Avoid using cell phones or other devices at the table. Take the opportunity to talk and eat together.

Healthy Food Choices

Give your child a chance to make simple healthy food choices, such as ‘would you like an apple or a banana?’ instead of asking ‘what do you want for a snack today?’ Make most food choices healthy ones from Canada’s Food Guide.

Make less healthy food, such as French fries, chips, and candy, available only some of the time. Include them for all family members. Avoid using them as a reward or punishment.

Water

Encourage your child to satisfy her thirst with water.

Encourage your child to satisfy her thirst with water.

Juice

Juice and pop contain a lot of sugar. Even 100% fruit juice is high in sugar. Do not give your child juice or pop.

Sugary drinks can cause dental cavities. When you eat sugar, the sugar is changed to an acid by bacteria that is in your mouth. The acid dissolves the outer part of the teeth, called enamel. Holes in your teeth’s enamel are called cavities.

Juice and pop can also lower your baby’s appetite for healthy foods. Juice can also cause diarrhea.

Cavities, lowered appetite, and diarrhea can happen even if you dilute the juice with water.

Allergies and Food Restrictions

If your child has any food restrictions or allergies, close attention should be made so she receives all of the nutrients she needs to stay healthy.

Vegan and Vegetarian Diets

Some families may follow a vegetarian or vegan diet for cultural, religious, or lifestyle reasons. Click here to learn more about eating vegetarian or vegan diets.

Click on the links below to learn more.

Food Safety

5 Steps to Food Safety

  • Do not give a child of any age an energy drink.
  • Cooked eggs are safe for your baby. The yolk should be cooked well and not runny.
  • Raw eggs in raw cookie dough or cake batter can make your child sick. Bake anything that has eggs in it thoroughly before giving it to a child.
  • Fish is safe if it is broken into small pieces. Be sure that all bones are removed.
  • Peanuts are small and can lead to risk of choking for babies.
  • Peanut butter can stick in your child’s mouth. Spread peanut butter thinly on crackers or bread to make it safer and easier to swallow.
  • Remove pits or large seeds from fruit. Cut grapes in halves or quarters and remove seeds.
  • Cut wieners lengthwise then in small pieces.
  • Unpasteurized honey is not recommended until your baby is at least two years old. Pasteurized honey can be given after one year. Do not feed honey to a baby who is under the age of one year. This can cause botulism.
  • The following are choking hazards for your baby. Avoid them until your child is at least four years old:
    • raisins, gum, hard candies, marshmallows
    • popcorn, nuts, sunflower seeds
    • any food with toothpicks or skewers

Food Allergies (6 months to 5 years)

It is safe to introduce most foods during your baby’s first year. This includes foods like peanuts, fish, and egg whites. Introducing these foods earlier than 12-24 months of age might lower the chance of your baby being allergic to them. Offer new foods every 2-4 days and watch for signs of an allergic reaction.

emergency

If your child has any symptoms of an allergic reaction, take him immediately to the nearest emergency room or healthcare provider.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:

  • hives, skin redness, or rash
  • swelling of the face, tongue, or lips
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea, or blood in bowel movement
  • coughing or wheezing
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of consciousness

If you or another family member has a serious allergy to any food, talk to your healthcare provider before introducing these foods to your child.

Vegetables and Fruit (1-5 Years)

Vegetables and fruit are important to stay healthy. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. They can help to protect your child from getting sick. They will also help your child be healthy later in life.

Vegetables and Fruit

The number of servings of vegetables and fruits increases as your child gets older. By the time your child is four years old, he will need five servings of vegetables and fruit each day.

Juice

Remember to avoid giving children juice. Juice has a lot of sugar in it and can lead to dental cavities. It can lower your child’s appetite for other foods.

Meat and Alternatives (1-5 years)

Meat and alternatives are important for your child to stay healthy. Meat and alternatives provide protein to help build, maintain, and repair muscles throughout the body. Muscles and organs (such as your heart) are made of protein. Meat and alternatives also provide iron, which is important for carrying oxygen in the body.

Meat and Alternatives

Some parents choose to raise their children as vegetarians or vegans for religious, cultural or lifestyle reasons. Your child may choose not to eat meats as he gets older. Talk to your healthcare provider or a dietitian to make sure your child is getting the calories, vitamins, minerals, and fat that he needs for growth and development.

Grains (1-5 years)

Grain products are important to stay healthy. Grain products, like some cereals, are often fortified with folic acid, folate, and/or vitamin B12. These help your child’s brain and nervous system to develop. Grains are also a source of fibre, which helps your child have a healthy digestion system.

Grains can also give your child’s body energy to be active throughout the day. However, in order to provide the nutrition your child needs, be sure to also provide other sources of energy. These sources include lean meats, fish, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

The number of servings of grains increases as the child gets older. A child who is 2-3 years old should eat three servings of grain products a day. By the time your child is four years old, he will need four servings of grain products a day.

Grains

Choose grain products made from whole grains (e.g., whole wheat, oats, barely) rather than white flour when you can.

Products such as cakes and cookies can be high in sugar, fat, and sodium. Avoid these as much as possible. These should not be considered a serving of grains.

Milk and Alternatives (1-5 Years)

Milk and alternatives are important for your child to stay healthy. They are a great source of calcium and vitamin D, which is important to building strong and healthy bones.

Milk and Alternatives

Your child needs two servings of milk daily. Until your child is two years old, give him whole milk (3% or whole).

Some parents choose to raise their children as vegans for religious, cultural, or lifestyle reasons. Your child may choose not to eat meats as he gets older. Talk to your healthcare provider or a dietitian to make sure your child is getting the calories, vitamins, minerals, and fat that he needs for growth and development.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets (0 – 5 Year)

Have you decided to feed your child a vegetarian or vegan diet for cultural, religious or lifestyle reasons? It is important to make sure that she is getting the calories and nutrients she needs to grow.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Children Under 2

If your child is less than two years old, she might not get all of the nutrition she needs on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Therefore, your child may need additional supplements. Talk to your healthcare provider before introducing a toddler to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Nutrients

If your child does not eat meat, she must get protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 from other foods. If your child does not eat or drink milk products, she will need to get calcium and vitamin D from other food sources. These nutrients have important roles in her body.

Sources of Nutrition for Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Protein
  • breast milk or formula for babies
  • soy products (tofu, veggie burgers, soy cheese) (not until child is 2 years old)
  • whole milk (not until child is 9 months old)
  • cheese or yogurt (not until child is 9 months old)
  • fortified soy beverages (not until child is 2 years old)
  • eggs (pureed or mashed for children under 2)
  • legumes (dried beans and lentils)
  • nuts and seeds (whole or buttered)
Iron
  • iron-fortified cereals
  • legumes
  • soy products (not until child is 2 years old)
  • iron-fortified pasta
  • dried fruit
  • dark green vegetables
Zinc
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains
Vitamin B12
  • dairy products (not until child is 9 months old)
  • eggs
  • soy products (not until child is 2 years old)
Calcium
  • tofu (not until child is 2 years old)
  • legumes
  • leafy green vegetables
  • dairy products (not until child is 9 months old)
  • almonds (supervise child as this can be a choking hazard)
Vitamin D
  • soft margarine
  • fortified soy milk (not until child is 2 years old)
  • whole milk (not until child is 9 months old)

Well-planned vegetarian diets can be made healthy for your child. Ask your doctor for a referral to see a registered dietitian. The dietitian will help make sure your child is meeting her nutritional needs while following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Iron (0- 1 and 1 year)

Infants around 7-12 months of age are growing so fast that they need foods that contain iron. Iron is an important mineral because it carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. It helps build red blood cells in the body. It helps the brain develop. Iron also helps all the cells in the body work.

If your child does not get enough iron, he will develop anemia. Anemia is a medical condition where you don’t have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin in your blood. The symptoms of anemia in young children include fussy behaviours, irritability, difficulty learning, tired, weak, not gaining a lot of weight, and less interest in eating.

Newborns are born with iron in their bodies. They also get iron from breast milk and formula. The iron that they had at birth starts to run out when they are six months old. Because of this, children start to need iron from food that they eat.

You can get iron through food. The main sources of iron in foods are red meat, fish, and chicken, iron-fortified infant cereal. Iron is also found in lentils, dried beans, green leafy vegetables, and eggs yolks.

healthy eating foods

Cow’s milk contains very little iron. Once you switch to cow’s milk, your child must get iron from other foods to help him be healthy.

Vitamin C will help your child absorb iron. Good sources of vitamin C include cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, oranges, cantaloupe, kiwi, bananas, strawberries, and green, yellow, and red peppers.

Vitamin C

Meal Time: Your Role; Your Child’s Role (0-5 Years)

It is your job as a parent to be a good role model and eat healthy foods. It is also your job to offer healthy foods to your child. And, it is also your responsibility to determine where your child will eat, for example at the kitchen table, and when the child will eat. It is important to have a regular schedule for meals and snacks.

Meal Time

It is your child’s job to decide how much to eat, what he will eat, and if he will eat at all.

It can be hard for some parents to trust their child to determine how much and if he will eat. However, children have a natural ability to determine how much food they need. If they are given healthy foods, they eat as much as they need to grow.

If children are taught they need to ‘clean their plates’ or ‘have two more bites’, their natural body cues for hunger and fullness do not work as well.

If your child is growing well, he is getting the right amount of food that he needs.

Drinking (3 -5 Years)

Water is the healthiest drink for your active child. Encourage your child to satisfy his thirst with water. Aim for your child to have 480 mL (2 cups) a day.

Offer your child whole vegetables and fruit rather than fruit juice. Fruits and vegetables in their whole form have lower levels of sugar than juice, e.g., an apple vs. apple juice. If you do offer juice, limit it to 120 mL (1/2 cup) of 100% fruit juice a day. Drinks labeled as fruit drink, fruit punch, or fruit beverage may not contain any real fruit at all. Avoid these drinks.

Please visit Milk and Alternatives for guidelines about drinking milk.

Drinks to Avoid

Drinks such as Kool-Aid®, iced tea, pop, slushes, sport drinks, or other fruit drinks are high in sugar. High-sugar foods and drinks have no nutritional value and will reduce your child’s appetite for more healthy foods. For some children, high-sugar foods may cause unhealthy weight gain.

If your child eats and drinks lots of sweets, he will likely eat less of other foods that are needed to be healthy. Children need your help to limit sweet drinks. A high sugar intake is also the cause for many dental cavities. Sugar from sugary drinks stays on the teeth. This provides a setting for the growth of the bacteria that causes cavities.

Eating crisp or fibrous foods, like celery, can get some of the sugar off of your child’s teeth.

Meal Time Tips (2-5 Years)

Offer your child small portions, with second helpings if he asks for them. Remember the portion size guide: 15 mL (1 tbsp.) of each food per year of age.

Try to choose healthy snacks like fruit, vegetables, or cooked eggs. This reduces the chance of cavities and other problems associated with too many sweets or high-fat foods.

Meal Time Tips

Avoid using food as a reward for good behaviour. It can create a dependence on food for emotional rather than physical needs.

Consider if your child’s request for a snack is an actual need for food or because he is bored. What he may really want is to play a game or have time alone with you.

Eating when concentrating on another activity, such as watching TV, may lead to over/under eating. Discourage this practice.

Children naturally like nutritious foods in all the food groups. Consider your child’s food preferences when preparing meals. The carrots do not need to be cooked. Your preschooler will probably prefer them raw and cut in sticks. Children tend to prefer bright, colourful food selections in separate portions – not mixed together. Serve cooked foods warm, but not hot, because a child’s mouth is much more sensitive than an adult’s.

Let your child help plan and prepare the family’s meals. He is more likely to eat foods he helped choose and prepare.

There are foods that parents dislike and choose not to eat. Children are no different. Forcing your child to clean his plate prevents him from learning to listen to his body and stop eating when he is full. If your child forces himself to ignore his body’s feeling of fullness, he may develop weight control problems later in life.

Offer new foods casually. Don’t make a big deal out of this. Let your child decide for himself whether he tries the new food. Encourage, but do not force, him to try one bite. Reinforce the idea that it is fun to try something new. Your child quickly learns that being fussy about food can give him a lot of attention.

Parents sometimes find that children snack so much that they are not hungry at mealtime. This is not a problem if the snacks are healthy foods.

The snack could be part of a meal the child didn’t eat or the meal that is still to come. Your child’s stomach is small. If he is very active, he will need to eat often to meet all his energy needs.

If you provide a cheerful, relaxed, and casual atmosphere that is free of stress, your child will learn to enjoy eating. If a power struggle develops over food, no one wins. Remember that your child is trying to become independent.

The most important influence on your child’s food habits is your example. Children learn most by imitation. If you eat and enjoy nutritious foods, he will too.

Sugar (1-5 Years)

High sugar intake can lower a child’s appetite. As a result, your child will likely eat less of other foods needed to be healthy. Children need your help to limit sweet treats.

Drinks such as Kool-Aid®, iced tea, pop, slushes, or fruit juice are high in sugar. Limit 100% fruit juice to 120 mL (1/2 cup) a day, and offer only after meals rather than in between meals. Do not offer other high-sugar drinks. Like other high-sugar foods, they have no nutritional value and will reduce your child’s appetite for more healthy foods.

A high sugar intake is also the cause for many dental cavities. Sticky, sugary snack foods stay on the teeth. This provides a setting for the growth of the bacteria that causes cavities. Limit sweets to mealtimes, rather than eating sweets throughout the day. Crisp or fibrous foods help the rinsing action in the mouth.

Salt (1-5 Years)

Eating too much salt will affect children’s blood pressure. Too much salt can put your child at risk for chronic diseases later in life.

The eating habits that your child has now will affect his eating habits later in life.

Now that your child is eating what the rest of the family is eating, it is important to continue to limit salt in foods.

Compare labels and buy foods with lower salt. Salt is called sodium on labels. Choose foods that the Nutrition Fact Table states has a serving size less than 15% DV (daily value) for sodium. Or, look at two different products (e.g., crackers) and choose the one with less sodium per serving size.

Caffeine (1-5 Years)

More research is needed to understand the effect of caffeine on young children’s bodies. Caffeine can make a child sleepless, restless, and irritable.

Many of the foods and drinks that have caffeine in them also have sugar, e.g., pop.

In early childhood, young children develop taste habits or preferences. Foods that contain caffeine may become a taste habit. It is difficult to change a habit once it is formed.

Cocoa, coffee, tea, and chocolate bars contain caffeine. It is a good idea to limit these items.

Cocoa, coffee, tea, and chocolate bars contain caffeine

Picky vs. Problem Eaters (3-5 Years)

Developing healthy eating habits in childhood can help to prevent obesity and chronic diseases later. Your child will need your help to develop these healthy habits.

Many parents describe their child as being a picky eater at this age. Picky eating can be common and normal for this age. Some children are problem eaters. It is very difficult to get children who are problem eaters to eat a variety of healthy foods.

Both picky eating and problem eating can be considered a health issue if your child is not growing as he should.

Picky eaters

  • A picky eater will usually eat at least 30 different foods.
  • He eats the same food over and over and then suddenly refuses it. He will then re-start eating this food after a few weeks.
  • He can handle a new food being on his plate even if he does not eat it.
  • He eats at least one food item per food group.
  • Sometimes you may need to feed him different foods than the rest of the family at mealtime.

Problem Eaters

  • A problem eater will usually eat less than 20 different foods.
  • He may eat the same food over and over again and then refuse it. He will not re-start eating this food in a few weeks.
  • Offering new foods usually results in a temper tantrum.
  • He will refuse all foods from a food group.
  • He almost never eats the same foods as the rest of the family.

If you think your child is a problem eater, talk to your doctor or local healthcare provider.

If your child is a picky or problem eater and not growing as he should, your healthcare provider may refer you to a dietitian who can help your child grow appropriately and increase the variety of foods he eats. If needed, your healthcare provider and dietitian may refer you to a psychologist or registered therapist.

Packing Lunches for School (5 Year)

You may need to pack a lunch and snacks for your child to eat while she is at school. Some schools provide meals and snacks. Healthy foods in school will help your child be active, concentrate, and learn. Aim to follow the Canada Food Guidelines and offer a variety of food at most meals and for a snack while your child is at school.

Try to involve your child in packing her lunch and snacks. Your child is more likely to eat and enjoy foods if she picked them. Give your child healthy options to pick from. Have her help pack snacks into containers or make sandwiches.

If your child is hungry throughout the day at school, she may not be getting enough to eat. Or, if uneaten food is usually coming home, she may be getting too much. Keep this in mind while packing future lunches.

Be aware that some schools will have allergy policies where some foods are not allowed

Be aware that some schools will have allergy policies where some foods are not allowed. Some schools are ‘peanut-free’ due to this being a common food allergen in children. Find out from your child’s school if any foods are not allowed.

Send a water bottle to school with your child to drink when she is thirsty throughout the day. Milk can be a healthy choice with her lunch or snack. Continue to limit juice and other sugary beverages.

Prepare and store food safely at home and when you send foods to school. Wash all fruits and vegetables well, even those that say “pre-washed”. Buy an insulated lunch bag. Foods that need to be kept cold or hot can be packed into a thermos. This will keep foods at a safe temperature and prevent your child from getting sick. An ice pack can also keep cold foods cold. Do not re-use perishable foods (meat, fish, poultry, milk products) that may come home un-eaten. Wash reusable containers well with warm, soapy water.

Links to Further Information

Latching On (0-12 Months)

A good latch prevents sore nipples and is important for your baby to get the nutrition he needs. If your baby is drinking and growing well, and your nipples are comfortable, this means your baby has a good latch.

Breastfeed as soon as possible after your baby is born. Babies have a natural reflex to look for and latch onto your nipple. Skin-to-skin contact and your smell and touch help trigger this natural reflex.

Breastfeed as soon as possible after your baby is born

Your baby’s mouth will open wide, like he is yawning. His whole mouth should cover not just your nipple, but the bottom and some of the top of your areola. Your areola is the dark skin around your nipple.

Sore and Cracked Nipples (0-12 Months)

Your baby is latching well if you feel a pull or tug sensation on your breast and if he is getting milk. You will know if he is swallowing by watching his lower jaw moving and hearing an ‘ahh’ sound occasionally. This sound is your baby exhaling after he swallows.

There are many different breastfeeding positions for your baby. Find a position you can be relaxed in, such as in a reclining chair with his tummy on your tummy.

Engorgement (0-12 Months)

You are breastfeeding your baby. It is normal for breasts to feel full. Your breasts will be larger and heavier and feel slightly tender.

Engorgement, however, is not normal. The symptoms of engorgement are swollen, red, and painful breasts; flattened nipples; and shiny and tight skin surrounding the nipples.

Engorgement most commonly occurs when your baby is 3-5 days old, and lasts only 12-48 hours if your baby is breastfeeding well.

If you are experiencing engorgement, there are steps you can take to help make you more comfortable.

What Can You Do?

  • Apply warm (not hot), moist cloths to breasts before breastfeeding.
  • Feed your baby every two hours.
  • Pump your breast milk to help drain your breasts.
  • Continue to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid feeding your baby from a bottle or using soothers at this time. Breastfeeding your baby will help stop engorgement.

Plugged Duct (0-12 months)

The breast has many milk ducts. If one of these ducts is not drained correctly, it can get plugged. You may have a plugged duct if you have a mild pain in your breast or a lump that does not go away after breastfeeding. A duct may become plugged gradually. You may have a slight fever and feel unwell.

What Can You Do?

  • Feed your baby often; every two hours.
  • Apply warm (not hot) cloths to your breast and massage it before breastfeeding.
  • Make sure your baby is latched on well and swallowing your milk.
  • If your baby does not empty your breast, pump the rest of your breast milk.
  • Avoid wearing a tight bra or clothing.
  • If needed, physical therapy can help with plugged ducts.

If you are having problems breastfeeding, talk with your healthcare provider, public health nurse, or lactation consultant.

Sterilizing Equipment (0-12 months)

For the first at least the first four months, it is important to sterilize your baby’s feeding equipment. Sterilizing kills germs that may make your baby sick.

Sterilizing Bottles

  • Clean the bottle, nipple, and lid with dish detergent and hot water.
  • Run water through the nipple for several seconds to be sure there is no milk or soap left.
  • Check for cracked or chipped bottles or nipples. Throw these out as they are harder to clean, bacteria can grow easily, and they are a safety hazard.
  • Sterilize using one of these methods.
    1. Boil: This is an easy and cheap way to sterilize bottles. Place bottles, nipples, and lids in a pot of water. Make sure the water covers the equipment and fills the bottles. Bring the water to a boil. Continue to boil for two minutes. You then need to allow time for the equipment to cool down.
    2. Electric steam sterilizing: A special machine sterilizes bottles, nipples, and lids that are placed upside down in the steamer. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
    3. Microwave steamer: Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.Be careful not to place anything metal in the steamer. Microwave steamers cost less than the electric steam sterilizing machines. You then need to allow time for the equipment to cool down.

Sterilizing Breast Pumps

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s advice on cleaning and sterilizing.

Mastitis (0-12 Months)

Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue or milk ducts. It usually will happen suddenly and you may have flu-like symptoms such as feeling tired, headache, muscle ache, fever, or chills. Your breast may be red, hot, and swollen. The pain can be strong in one area of the breast.

Mastitis can be caused by cracked nipples, being overtired with high stress, an untreated plugged milk duct, and a decrease in the number of feedings each day.

What Can You Do?

  • If you have mastitis, continue to breastfeed. Your baby will not get sick from mastitis.
  • Feed your baby often; every two hours. Try different positions.
  • Apply warm (not hot) cloths and massage the area before breastfeeding.
  • Make sure your baby is latched on well and swallowing your milk.
  • If your baby does not empty your breast, pumping your breast milk can help.
  • Avoid wearing a tight bra or clothing.

If you are having problems breastfeeding, talk with your healthcare provider, public health nurse, or lactation consultant.

Sore and Cracked Nipples (0-12 Months)

Breastfeeding should not hurt.

You can get sore and cracked nipples if your baby is not latched on or sucking on the breast the right way. It can also happen from not using a breast pump correctly or from an infection of the breast.

If you have sore nipples, nurse on the least sore side first. Hold your baby in different positions to nurse. After breastfeeding, express a few drops of breast milk on your nipples. Your breast milk can help heal cracked nipples. Apply warm (not hot) salt water cloths. Take these off once the water gets cold.

Try to prevent getting sore nipples. One thing you can do is to break the latch and reposition your baby.

When latching your baby to your breast, your baby’s mouth should be wide open with his tongue out over the bottom gums. He should not latch just on the nipple but also on the part of the breast around the nipple.

 Sore and Cracked Nipples (0-12 Months)

Most sore nipples are caused by latch problems. Some will need to be treated. If you are having breastfeeding troubles, talk with your healthcare provider, public health nurse, or lactation consultant.

Expressing or Pumping Breast Milk (0-6 Months, 6-12 Months, 1 Year)

Expressing or pumping breast milk allows your baby to drink breast milk when you are not available. Pumping breast milk also allows your partner or another support to feed your baby. Finally, expressing breast milk can help increase your supply of breast milk.

  • Wash your hands well with soap and water before pumping.
  • Special cleaning of your breasts is not needed before pumping.
  • Try to relax before pumping. A warm bath or shower may help.
  • Drink fluids before or during pumping.
  • Try to think about your baby when pumping. This can help with the natural reflex of milk let-down.
  • When starting to express or pump, massage the ducts that make milk. Start at the top of the breast. Move your fingers in a circular motion. Stroke the breast from the top of the breast to the nipple. Lean forward and shake the breast. Gravity can help the milk to come out. Your breast is now ready to pump by hand or with a breast pump.
  • For help with pumping, contact your healthcare provider, public health nurse, or lactation consultant.

Hand Expression

  • If you are using hand expression, hold your breast with your thumb and fingers about 16 mm (1 in.) from the top and bottom of your areola. Gently, press back towards your chest wall. Roll your thumb and fingers gently together and toward the space behind your nipple. Do not pinch your nipple; it will hurt and can block milk flow. It will take practice to master this technique.

Breast Pump

  • If you are using a breast pump, put the breast cup over your nipple. Start with the lowest suction setting. You can increase the pressure if it feels comfortable. If you have two breast cups, you can pump both sides at the same time.
  • To increase your breast milk supply, pump until milk flow stops and then for five minutes longer.

Increasing Supply of Breast Milk

Increasing Supply of Breast Milk (0-12 months)

You may think you have a low breast milk supply when you do not. If your baby is getting bigger and is content after feeding, you do not have a low milk supply. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have a concern.

Tips for Increasing Breast Milk Supply

  • You can keep your breast milk supply up by nursing often. When your baby is first born, you will feed him almost every two hours during the day and every three hours at night.
  • Make sure you can hear your baby swallowing regularly. When your baby is latched on, squeeze your breast when his swallowing slows.
  • Try to offer both breasts at each feeding. Have your baby empty one breast before switching to the other side. This way your baby will get the rich, high-fat milk that comes after a few minutes of feeding.
  • If your baby does not empty your breast, pumping your breast milk (hand expression or pump) after breastfeeding will help increase milk supply. By pumping breast milk after feeding your baby, your body learns that more milk is needed.
  • Breastfeeding can take some time to establish. Some mothers choose to offer pumped breast milk while working on establishing a latch with their baby. When you feed breast milk from the bottle, your baby still receives the nutritional benefits of breast milk.
  • Get extra rest, as feeling relaxed and rested may also increase your milk supply.
  • Eat a balanced diet following Canada’s Food Guide, and drink plenty of fluids a day. 1920 mL (8 cups) of non-caffeinated liquids per day is recommended.

If you are having breastfeeding troubles, talk with your doctor, public health nurse, or lactation consultant.

Feeding from a Bottle (0-12 Months)

Your baby’s brain grows and develops in her early years. The position she is in when she breastfeeds helps her brain to grow. Newborns experience the world through their five senses: touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste. Skin-to-skin contact provides the touch and smell experiences. Your baby is in a position that lets her hear your heart beat. The breast milk provides a taste experience.

Feeding from a Bottle

Hold your baby when you are feeding her. Never prop a bottle in her mouth leaving her to drink unattended as she may choke. Your baby needs the love and emotional support she will feel from being in your arms. She also needs eye contact with you while she is eating.

Drinking from a propped bottle may cause ear infections. The passageway from the ear to the throat does not drain well in infancy. Milk can go back into the ears and cause an infection.

Often during feeding, a baby may spit up already swallowed milk. If she is propped up with a bottle, she may choke because the propped up bottle will prevent her from spitting out the already swallowed milk.

Warming Formula (0-6 Months, 6-12 Months)

Your baby might like his formula warm. To warm a bottle of formula, put it in a pan of hot water for a few minutes. Shake the bottle frequently so the formula warms evenly. Test the temperature by shaking a few drops on the inside of your wrist. The formula should feel the same as your skin temperature or slightly warmer, but not hot.

Warming Formula

Using the microwave to warm the formula is not recommended.

If you must use a microwave, use a microwave safe container. Stop your microwave every 30 seconds to check the temperature of the formula. Stir the formula before warming it more or feeding it to your baby. The formula heats unevenly and can cause hot spots in the formula.

Using the microwave to warm the formula is not recommended.

Burping (0-6 Months)

Your baby will swallow air while feeding and crying. It is important to help him burp up the air bubbles. You can do this in one of three ways.

It is important to help him burp up the air bubbles

  • Hold him up against your chest so he is looking out over your shoulder. Rub or pat his back gently. Put a cloth over your shoulder in case milk comes up with the bubble.
  • Hold him in a sitting position on your lap. Support his chin with one hand. Gently rub his back with the other hand.
  • Hold him tummy down over your knees. Gently rub his back. If no bubbles come up in two or three minutes, put him down on his tummy for a minute or two and then try again.

Burp a breastfed baby when finished feeding on each breast. Try burping a bottle-fed baby after 30 mL (1 oz). Some babies stop sucking when they need to be burped. You will soon get to know what is best for your baby. If you do not burp your baby regularly, the gas can cause discomfort.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets (0 – 5 Year)

Have you decided to feed your child a vegetarian or vegan diet for cultural, religious or lifestyle reasons? It is important to make sure that she is getting the calories and nutrients she needs to grow.

Children Under 2

If your child is less than two years old, she might not get all of the nutrition she needs on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Therefore, your child may need additional supplements. Talk to your healthcare provider before introducing a toddler to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Nutrients

If your child does not eat meat, she must get protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 from other foods. If your child does not eat or drink milk products, she will need to get calcium and vitamin D from other food sources. These nutrients have important roles in her body.

Sources of Nutrition for Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Protein
  • breast milk or formula for babies
  • soy products (tofu, veggie burgers, soy cheese) (not until child is 2 years old)
  • whole milk (not until child is 9 months old)
  • cheese or yogurt (not until child is 9 months old)
  • fortified soy beverages (not until child is 2 years old)
  • eggs (pureed or mashed for children under 2)
  • legumes (dried beans and lentils)
  • nuts and seeds (whole or buttered)
Iron
  • iron-fortified cereals
  • legumes
  • soy products (not until child is 2 years old)
  • iron-fortified pasta
  • dried fruit
  • dark green vegetables
Zinc
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains
Vitamin B12
  • dairy products (not until child is 9 months old)
  • eggs
  • soy products (not until child is 2 years old)
Calcium
  • tofu (not until child is 2 years old)
  • legumes
  • leafy green vegetables
  • dairy products (not until child is 9 months old)
  • almonds (supervise child as this can be a choking hazard)
Vitamin D
  • soft margarine
  • fortified soy milk (not until child is 2 years old)
  • whole milk (not until child is 9 months old)

Well-planned vegetarian diets can be made healthy for your child. Ask your doctor for a referral to see a registered dietitian. The dietitian will help make sure your child is meeting her nutritional needs while following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Botulism

Botulism is caused by bacteria. Symptoms include weakness, blurred vision, exhaustion, trouble speaking, and muscle weakness.

Quiz

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