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A Solid Start: Introducing Baby to Solid Foods

Everything you need to know to begin your child on baby foods and other solids.

Babies and Solid Foods: How Much Is Enough? continued...

“Let your child do the regulating,” says Lewis. “They don’t eat for pleasure at this age; they eat because they’re hungry. An hour or two after their morning bottle or nursing session, offer solid foods and let them eat as much as they want. To some extent, you don’t need to do anything except offer your child something that’s nutritious, and not force it on them.”

Shu agrees. “Lot of parents like to know how much their child is eating and follow some kind of formula,” she says. “But it’s the child’s job to determine how much to eat. It’s the parent’s job to give them healthy foods. A child’s appetite does not always neatly coincide with the size of a jar of food or the amount of cereal you mix up. From babyhood, we should encourage children to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full.”

Baby Food Allergies

Until very recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended waiting until at least a year to offer babies certain highly allergenic foods, including wheat, eggs, fish and shellfish, and peanuts and tree nuts. But in early 2008, it revised that recommendation, saying that there is no evidence that waiting to introduce these foods makes babies less likely to develop allergies. In fact, there is some evidence that eating some of these foods earlier may protect babies against allergies.

So you can decide to give your baby wheat, eggs, and fish before she’s 1 year old unless she’s at high risk for allergies -- for example, if a parent or sibling has them. But there’s also no harm in being a little conservative, says Shu. “It’s not a bad idea to wait until your baby is a little older -- say, 9 or 10 months -- before offering something like shellfish. It’s not that you’ll cause allergies, but if the baby is allergic, a reaction is a lot easier to deal with in an older baby than a younger one.”

And pediatricians such as Parker still advise waiting even longer with peanuts. “The jury is still out -- some evidence says you should wait until age 3 or older, while some says introducing peanuts earlier can help prevent allergies,” he says. “Since an allergic peanut reaction is particularly dangerous, I think it’s safer to wait.”

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