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Kids Health QA: Overfeeding Baby

Q. Our 9-month-old is a good eater -- mostly cereal, but also fruits and veggies, four or five times a day. How do I know if I'm feeding him too much?

It's great that you're thinking about this! Research shows that overweight infants are more likely to grow into overweight children and adults. So early habits count.

Feeding your baby four or five meals a day is fine, with a few caveats. First, serving size is important. For a 9-month-old, a tablespoon of each of the different foods he's eating may be plenty. Second, don't overdo the cereal. Although iron-fortified cereal is great for infants, it shouldn't be the main part of every meal; eating too many carbohydrates isn't good, and it can constipate him. Along with the fruits and veggies, try adding meat, dairy, and fish. (But check with your doctor about which fish -- and how much -- to avoid possible mercury contamination.) Just make sure you give him soft, bite-size pieces of table food.

Serve him when you're eating -- sitting down together to eat has been shown to have all sorts of benefits, and you might as well start it early! -- and offer snacks midmorning and midafternoon. If he doesn't want to eat, fine; let him listen to his hunger cues. Teaching your son to eat only when he's hungry can go a long way toward preventing obesity.

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