Eating well during your pregnancy gives your baby healthy nutrients to grow and develop. Some nutrients – like folate (folic acid), iron, calcium and omega-3 fats – are particularly important during pregnancy. Following Canada's Food Guide will provide the nutritional building blocks you need for a healthy pregnancy. Talk to your doctor, midwife, or a dietitian about your supplement needs during your pregnancy.
Gaining weight is a natural part of pregnancy. It helps your baby grow and prepares you for breastfeeding. Most weight gain during pregnancy happens in the second and third trimesters. The healthy amount of weight gain will be different for each person. Your care provider can advise you.
Breastfeeding lowers your baby's risk for some types of infections and allergies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breast milk may also protect your baby from health problems such as eczema, obesity, asthma and diabetes. Breastfeeding can lower your own risk for certain health conditions, such as breast cancer.
Numerous health authorities, including the World Health Organization and Health Canada, recommend that:
- babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months;
- you introduce solid foods at about six months; and
- breastfeeding should continue for two years and beyond.
When introducing solid foods, start by offering iron-rich foods two or more times per day. After this, you can begin to introduce a variety of vegetables, fruit, grains, and dairy products (except cow milk or goat milk beverage) in any order. Your baby's first foods should be soft in texture, including finger foods. Generally, there is no need to introduce new foods one at a time.
Certain foods should be introduced one at a time. These are the most common food allergens: cow milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, seafood (fish, shellfish, crustaceans), wheat and sesame. There is no need to delay introducing these foods to your baby if they are ready for solid foods.
For more detailed information regarding infant food allergies, please call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 and ask to speak to the allergy dietitian.
Baby's Best Chance: Parent's Handbook of Pregnancy and Baby Care (HealthLink BC)
Baby's First Foods (HealthLink BC)
Breast-feeding (HealthLink BC)
Feeding Babies (0-12 Months) (Healthy Families BC)
Breastfeeding your Baby (BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre)
Reducing Risk of Food Allergy in Your Baby (HealthLink BC)
For babies who cannot be breastfed or where a decision has been made not to breastfeed, store-bought infant formula is recommended. If you are considering using infant formula, talk to your health care provider for support with your infant feeding choices.
Formula Feeding Your Baby: Getting Started (HealthLink BC)
How to Choose, Prepare and Store Infant Formula(Healthy Families BC)