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Introducing solid foods marks a major milestone in your baby's life, but you may have gotten mixed messages about which foods are OK to serve. Relax. The "yes" list is much longer than the "no" list, which includes common-sense items, such as foods that can cause choking or are high in additives or salt. Offer a wide variety of grains, fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods for a healthy, safe diet.
Honey is a natural food, but it's not a good choice for babies under age 1. Honey occasionally contains bacteria that can cause infant botulism, a serious food-borne illness. Older children and adults aren't affected by the bacteria in honey. Also, wait until your baby is at least 12 months old to introduce cow's milk. Immature digestive systems can't handle the proteins in cow's milk, potentially causing diarrhea, kidney stress and even anemia. Your baby can eat yogurt and cheese, just not liquid cow's milk.
With some exceptions, a baby can eat most foods on your table, but give them to her in a form she can handle. Puree them until your baby is 6 or 8 months old, and possibly older. After your baby has some teeth, she can handle small bits of soft food, such as cooked vegetables, scrambled eggs, soft crackers or fruit. Avoid giving her whole grapes, tree nuts, peanuts, hot dogs, popcorn or chunky peanut butter, which can pose a choking hazard.
A Little Seasoning
As an adult, you're probably accustomed to highly seasoned food, but young babies happily accept bland offerings. Skip the salt if you make homemade baby food, and don't use broth or bouillon cubes, which may be high in salt. Excess salt trains your baby to prefer salty food and is hard for his kidneys to process, according to the United Kingdom's NHS. Skip the added sugar, as well; it can promote tooth decay and obesity while encouraging a sweet tooth. Instead, offer fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables or commercial baby food. Brightly colored, attractive food will interest a baby without the need for additives or seasonings.
In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics retracted its previous position that recommended delaying introduction of potentially allergenic foods, such as peanut butter, fish and eggs. The AAP has found that delaying introduction of these foods may increase the risk of developing an allergy. Current recommendations advise offering these foods in small amounts after your baby has eaten a few other common foods—typically between 6 months and 8 months old. Introduce the new food at home and watch your baby carefully for signs of allergies, such as a rash, diarrhea or irritability. Talk with your doctor before giving your baby swordfish, shark or marlin, which may be high in mercury, and make sure that eggs, meat, fish and poultry are fully cooked.
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