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Baby Food Safety Checklist

? Until your baby is at least 7 months, don't puree your own beets, turnips, carrots, spinach, or collard greens because they may have large amounts of nitrates, which can cause anemia in young infants. (Commercial baby-food varieties are fine  -- they're tested to be nitrate-free.) And if you use well water, get it tested for nitrates.

? Until your child is 1, avoid honey  -- it can contain spores that may produce life-threatening infant botulism.

? Until your child is 4, don't feed him these foods, which are choking hazards:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Raw vegetables
  • Hard or sticky candy
  • Chewing gum
  • Whole grapes, cherries
  • Chunky peanut butter (instead, use the smooth kind, spread very thinly over crackers or bread)

? After your child is 1, cut up firm, round foods (grapes, cooked carrots, hot dogs, chunks of cheese or meat) into very small pieces  -- about a quarter inch  -- before serving.

? At any age, if your child experiences rashes, vomiting, bloating, gas, or diarrhea after a new food, stop giving it to him and talk to your doctor. He may have an allergy or food intolerance.

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