Starting Solids: The Dos and Don'ts

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Sooner or later, your little one will move past breast milk or formula and start eating "people" food. Wondering when to start with solids? Here are some of the basic dos and don'ts. (Of course, you should always talk to your pediatrician first if you have any concerns.)

DO: Wait to introduce solid food until six months. Any earlier and your baby's system may not be able to digest it; wait too long and you may miss a crucial window of opportunity and interest.

DON'T: Add rice cereal to your baby's bottle. Thickening the milk or formula can make it easier for little ones to gag or choke.

DO: Introduce one food at a time. Wait two or three days between introducing new foods to help pinpoint possible allergic reactions such as rashes or digestive problems.

DON'T: Give your baby regular cow's milk or honey before her first birthday. Honey may contain spores that can cause botulism in babies and cow's milk does not provide the necessary nutrition for your baby.

DO: Keep trying with foods your baby doesn't love at first taste. It might take a few tries before she learns to love pureed carrots. If she turns up her nose the first (or second, or third) time, keep on trying -- it can take up to 10 attempts for babies to welcome a new food. Wait a few days, then try again, or mix the new food with another you know she enjoys.

DON'T: Worry about offering fruit before vegetables. Conventional wisdom has long held that babies who start with sweet fruits will automatically reject vegetables because they won't find them as tasty -- turns out it's not true.

DO: Introduce pureed meat earlier than you planned. There's no reason not to introduce meats; in fact, babies who start eating meat get more zinc and iron, both important for growth.