If I were to add up all the minutes I spend talking with patients' parents about different topics, there's no doubt which one would win: feeding. Every relative and her neighbor has advice, much of it contradictory (start with vegetables versus start with fruits, babies need teeth for table food versus no, they don't). And everyone seems certain she's right. Plus, the news is so full of nutritional directives that it can be dizzying. We feel judged as parents based on the eating habits of our children, and we want so much for them to eat well and grow well; it's hard not to feel overwhelmed trying to figure out how best to feed them.
Thirteen years of parenting and doctoring have taught me a lot about feeding kids --enough to help parents relax and even enjoy the process. Here, answers to some of the questions I'm asked most:
Claire McCarthy, M.D., a pediatrician at the Martha Eliot Health Center, in Boston, is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. She is the author of Learning How the Heart Beats: The Making of a Pediatrician (Penguin).