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4 Baby-Feeding Dilemmas Solved

People love to give new moms advice, and you're bound to hear contradictory information when it comes to feeding. The "rules" change over time. Luckily, the current thinking on how and what to start feeding is loosening up, so let your instincts and your baby be your guide.

When should I start?
There's no rush. Until the age of 6 months, babies get all the nutrition they need from breast milk or formula. Some doctors suggest parents wait until 6 months to begin solids; others say any time between 4 and 6 months is fine. It's up to you--and your baby. Talk to your pediatrician to get her opinion, and watch your baby for the telltale signs she's ready.

What should I start with?
Grandma may insist that you should start with rice cereal, but don't feel obliged to go this route. It's fine to offer a fruit, vegetable, or even meat. Whatever you choose, ease into the first meal with a little of baby's usual milk. Then offer the "solid" food, which should be pureed smooth and mixed with enough breast milk, formula, or water to give it a runny, liquid consistency.

What are the readiness signs?
Your baby sits well on her own and shows good head and neck control; drinks more than 32 ounces (1 l) of formula a day or, when nursing, pulls off and looks around as if searching for a snack; gazes at you longingly when you eat (and may even try to grab some food for herself!); and can swallow food rather than reflexively pushing it out of her mouth with her tongue.

How much should my baby eat?
The answer to this one is simple: just as much as he wants, and no more. Many babies nibble and peck rather than eagerly wolfing down a bowl of food, and this is fine. Many need only a teaspoon per meal at first! Babies' stomachs are about the size of their fists, so it doesn't take much to fill them. For now, eating food is just a way for your baby to explore his world. baby feeding dilemmas solved!

From Love in Spoonfuls, Parenting's recipe book of fast and easy ways to make nutritious food for your baby.