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Baby Bites

Moving Up The Food Chain

Keep offering your baby rice cereal two or three times a day, making it progressively thicker as he gets the hang of swallowing it. Once he's mastered the mushy stuff, you can add barley or oatmeal cereal and pureed fruits and vegetables, such as applesauce, sweet potatoes, and peas. The trick is to give only one new taste treat at a time and wait two to three days before introducing the next one. This way, if he develops an allergic reaction (a rash, diarrhea, or vomiting), you'll know which food was the culprit. Shelve it for one to three months before bringing it out again. If it provokes another reaction, keep it off the menu entirely until he's a year old. By then, he'll probably be able to tolerate it.

Eventually, your baby will start to eat what resembles real meals, taking in around four ounces at each sitting. Within a month or two of his first nibbles, a typical daily menu might consist of rice cereal and applesauce for breakfast, peas and squash for lunch, and sweet potatoes and green beans for dinner, plus breast milk or formula.

If your baby's a picky eater -- scorning everything but sweet potatoes, for instance -- continue to offer a variety. "Babies' tastes change very quickly -- one week they'll eat something they rejected the week before," says BabyTalk contributing editor Heidi Murkoff, coauthor of What to Expect the First Year.

By 7 or 8 months, you can add slightly harder-to-digest pureed meat and poultry to his diet, as well as items that aren't pureed as finely -- often labeled "second stage" -- and mixed foods, such as a pureed chicken-and-rice combo. He can also have some finger foods that are soft and easy to swallow and that can be chopped into very small pieces (one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch to start with), such as cooked carrots and broccoli, spaghetti, diced turkey, sliced cheese, and cooked egg yolks.