An Early Start to Good Nutrition

Baby looking off into the distance.

It’s never too early to start healthy food and drink habits with your baby or toddler. You can help them benefit from good nutrition right from birth. 

Starting healthy habits now

  • Begin with breastfeeding. Breastfeed for the first 6 months. Babies who are breastfed for the first 6 months tend to be leaner. Continue to breastfeed plus give supplemental foods until age 1 or longer.

  • Stop feeding when your child is full. Don’t try to make your baby finish every bottle, unless your child’s healthcare provider tells you to. Look for cues that show your child may be full. These may include closing their mouth, turning their head away from breast or bottle, or relaxing their hands.

  • Skip juice and other sweet drinks. Juice isn't necessary and is less nutritious than fruit. Don’t give fruit juice, or wait until your child is a toddler. If you choose to offer juice, wait until age 12 months. Give no more than 4 ounces of 100% juice daily. Don't give your child fruit punch, soft drinks, and other sweet drinks.

  • Give your child variety. When your child starts eating, offer a variety of foods, flavors, and textures from all food groups. Give fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy or fortified soy foods. Include foods rich in iron and zinc, especially for breastfed babies. Examples include lean meats, fortified infant cereals, and beans.

Important safety tip

Don’t feed your baby raw or cooked honey. Don’t give them unpasteurized foods or drinks, such as milk, yogurt, or cheese, or pressed juice. These foods could have harmful bacteria that can lead to serious illness or death.

Show your good habits

As a parent, it’s good to remember that your child will model what they see you doing. Make sure to eat healthy foods and be active. You can inspire lifelong healthy habits in your child.

Online Medical Reviewer: Dan Brennan MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Liora C Adler MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.