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The New Rules of Introducing Solids to Your Baby

Jeanine Henderson

3. Wait until baby's at least a year old before giving him eggs, fish or peanut butter.  Your mother's advice is probably outdated (she put you to bed on your belly in a drop-side crib with fluffy blankets for goodness sake!), but even parents your age might have outdated info. When I started feeding Jules solids, it was recommended to wait beyond baby's first birthday to introduce three highly allergenic foods: eggs, fish and peanut butter. In 2010, the AAP amended its stance. “Unless you have a high family history [of food allergy], you don't need to wait anymore,” says Jatinder Bhatia M.D., chair of the committee on nutrition for the AAP. “You can offer eggs and shrimp.” Nuts are OK too. Nithya Das of Brooklyn, New York, a first generation Indian-American, introduced her daughter, now 2, to cashews, almonds and peanuts (puréed!) at about 10 months. “It was a priority to introduce Indian flavors at an early age, including nuts,” says Das, who runs the website, a healthy recipe resource for parents. “We don't have any nut allergies in our family, so I was comfortable giving her these. I'm always vigilant about keeping an eye out for an allergic reaction.” Offering new foods one at a time, three days apart, will help you easily track an allergic reaction or sensitivity back to the offending food.

4. The first solid food you introduce should be rice cereal.  Rice cereal is a commonly recommended food because it's unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, and it's fortified with iron, which is especially important for babies who are exclusively breastfed and don't get extra iron from formula, says Jennifer Shu M.D., spokeswoman for the AAP. But, really, you can start with whatever you'd like. “I skipped right past the cereal to mashed banana and puréed sweet potatoes, which worked well for us,” says Cristen Pantano, mother of two in Pittstown, New Jersey. Or consider starting with puréed meat: Red meat is naturally rich in iron, which is why pediatricians are increasingly recommending it as a first food, says Dr. Shu. Early eating experiences are about helping your child figure out how to use her tongue, not to mention utensils, so whatever you choose for those first spoonfuls, take a low-key approach to offering it. “This is all a new adventure for your baby, so enjoy the experience,” says Tina Ruggiero R.D., co-author of The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet.