Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsBreast feeding is the best start to life for a baby. It provides all of the essential nutrients that a baby needs for the first six months of life to develop, and grow, and to gain protection against infections and conditions such as obesity, asthma, diabetes, and bowel disease later in life. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breast feeding for the first six months of a baby's life and that women continue to breastfeed after the introduction of solids and up to 2 years and beyond. If a baby is not able to be fully or partially breastfed, a commercial infant formula should be used as an alternative.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 secondsBreastfeeding has many benefits, not only for the baby but also for the mother, family, and society as a whole. The majority of babies are able to be breastfed. However, breastfeeding can be a challenge for some mothers. Mothers can be provided with appropriate support to assist them to initiate and maintain breast feeding through health professionals, family, and various organizations. Establishing appropriate policies in workplaces and public spaces can also assist mothers in maintaining breastfeeding. Solids should be introduced at around six months of age. At this age, infants need more nutrients than what can be supplied just through breast milk or formula. They are also developmentally ready to start eating solid food at this stage.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 secondsThe first fruits offered should be iron-rich foods, followed by vegetables and dairy foods. Foods should be of a pureed consistency at first, then mashed, and then progress to chopped. An increasing variety of food should be offered. By the age of eight months, children should be offered finger foods. Additional sugar and salt should not be added to any of the foods offered. Children should continue to be provided with breast milk or commercial formula from 6 months to 12 months and cooled boiled tap water can be offered. Full cream milk should not be offered as a drink at this age but can be used in foods such as cereal.

Skip to 2 minutes and 26 secondsOther foods that should be avoided at this age include honey, and nuts, and other hard foods. By 12 months of age, infants should be able to eat a wide variety of foods that are being served to the whole family, except if they have a diagnosed allergy to a certain type of food. It should be ensured that iron-rich foods are continuing to be eaten. Breastfeeding is still encouraged if the mother and the infant are willing and able to continue. Alternatively, full cream milk can now be offered as a drink. Reduced fat milk though, can be offered from to 2 years of age. Sugar sweetened drinks should not be offered.

Skip to 3 minutes and 8 secondsNuts and other hard foods should continue to be avoided until at least 3 years of age.

Nutrition stages

Children should experience nutritious foods in stages, from breastfeeding, to the introduction of solids and family foods.

Breastfeeding (first 6 months for up to 2 years and beyond)

Breastfeeding provides essential nutrients to babies in the first six months of their lives and can protect against infections and conditions such as obesity, asthma, diabetes and bowel disease later in life. Where a baby is not able to be breastfed, commercial formulas should be used instead. Organisations that can assist mothers with breastfeeding include the following:

Are there any support organisations in your local community?

Introduction of solids (6 months - 3 years of age)

The first foods offered should be iron-rich foods, followed by vegetables, first in a pureed consistency, then mashed and then progress to chopped. Foods to be avoided at this age include honey, nuts and other hard foods. Honey should be avoided until 12 months of age and hard foods should continue to be avoided until at least three years of age. Sugar sweetened drinks should also be avoided at this age. Full cream milk should be offered until the age of two. Reduced fat milk/alternatives can be offered from 2 years of age.

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This video is from the free online course:

Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living

University of Wollongong