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Health & Baby

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A Solid Foundation

Follow the Food Cues

The Spice Factor

Once your baby is used to cereal, slowly introduce other foods, such as strained vegetables (except corn, which is hard to digest before six months) and fruit. Hold off on meats, which are more difficult to digest, until about seven months.

Some doctors suggest offering vegetables before fruits since veggies aren't as sweet and are more apt to be rejected if the baby gets accustomed to fruits first. Hurlbut says she had better luck with the sweeter vegetables, like sweet potatoes. Also, mixing breast milk and rice cereal into green vegetables, like spinach, helped make them more palatable at first.

Try one food at a time, then wait about three days before introducing another. Introducing foods slowly will give your baby a chance to show an allergy to a particular food. Major culprits are cow's milk and egg whites (which aren't recommended for children under 1 year), peanuts, wheat, strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, corn, and shellfish.

Offering an assortment of foods will help ensure a wider range of nutrients for your baby, as well as introducing him to a variety of tastes and textures. Avoid adding salt or sugar, though, or he might wind up developing an unhealthy taste for them.

Don't be alarmed if your infant's bowel movements change after starting solids. They typically become more solid, variable in color, have a stronger odor and may even contain bits of undigested food. If the stools are extremely loose, watery, or full of mucus, contact your doctor. These are signs that the digestive tract may be irritated.

Finger Food ... and Finger Play

When baby is old enough to start grasping objects between his fingers -- usually about 9 or 10 months -- that's a good time to introduce finger foods. Start with foods that dissolve easily, such as crackers or Cheerios, small pieces of ripe banana, or small bits of cheese.

Consider safety. Avoid slick, round foods like hot dogs, processed meats, hard candy, popcorn, peanuts, grapes, apple chunks, and anything that can get lodged in the throat. Babies face significant risks of choking when they begin eating table food.

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