Food: The Road to Solids
FAST FACT By your baby's first birthday, she will likely have tripled her birth weight. That's a lot of calories -- and almost as many feeding questions. A few are answered here.
Is My Baby Ready to
... chew crackers or bread? This is the first step toward finger foods, after purées of cereals, fruits, vegetables and meats have been introduced. "By 9 months or a bit sooner, a baby is able to try all bready foods, as long as parents keep a close watch," says pediatrician and mom of three Jennifer Roche, M.D. Just keep pieces small, about the size of your pinky nail. If your tot is holding an entire cracker, be sure that she doesn't -- ahem -- bite off more than she can chew.
... drink water? If your baby hasn't started solids yet (at about 6 months), talk to your doctor before giving him water. Not only do breast milk or formula provide all the water and nutrition a baby needs, too much water can dilute the sodium in the blood, which can result in brain swelling, unresponsiveness and seizures, says Alan Greene, M.D., pediatrician and author of Feeding Baby Green and Raising Baby Green. "Even if baby is dehydrated from diarrhea, his fluid losses should be replaced with breast milk, formula or perhaps a rehydration solution," he says. After 6 months, however, Dr. Greene encourages offering your baby up to 6 ounces of water a day. Ask your pediatrician what kind of water (tap or bottled) is best for your baby.
... try an "allergenic" food? What was once labeled a food allergy may really just be a food sensitivity or intolerance. The AAP determined there is no evidence that delaying the introduction of common allergens (cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy) helps prevent reactions. While you should always get the go-ahead from your pediatrician anyway, a child without a family history of allergies should be able to eat tiny pieces of all these foods as soon as she's eating table foods (usually between 6 months and 1 year). Products made from pastuerized whole milk, such as cottage cheese, yogurt and tiny pieces of soft cheese are OK to try, just hold off on cow's milk until she's 1. If a parent or sibling has any kind of allergy or your child has had a previous reaction, your pediatrician may want to delay the introduction of some of these foods, possibly until age 3.