By:  Karen Sullen


Children seem to grow up so fast!  Only yesterday they were playing with little wooden cars, and now they want to drive yours!  Gone are days of late-night feedings and teaching them how to use the potty, as they blossom from toddler to teen right before your eyes.  Growing up can be fun, but one stage of babies' development that does not need to be rushed is their nutrition.  Getting them off to a healthy start includes balanced foods that are easily digestible.  Although tempting and tasty, presenting "adult" foods too early can cause problems in their tender systems.  While most people realize that babies aren't ready to eat table food until they are about 1-year-old, deciding what foods to introduce to children between the milk and meat stages can present a challenge for new parents.


As a general rule, cereal is the first solid food that is added to the baby's diet between 4-6 months of age.  Many parents add cereal for a more substantial meal, especially at bedtime.  Cereal is then followed by pureed vegetables and fruit.  Before you know it, your baby will have graduated to meat and protein alternatives like beans and peas at about 7-8 months old.  Be sure that all foods are pureed and easily digestible.  Introducing new foods should be done one at a time to make sure there are no adverse reactions.  Some experts say that you should wait five days before introducing each new food. 


Now that we've discussed what foods your baby can enjoy and when to introduce them, let's examine the foods that are a "no-no" for babies 6-12 months old.  Some foods on the list may surprise you!


Juice                                        Honey

Egg Whites                              Nuts

Peanut Butter                          Hot Dogs

Fish/Seafood                           Popcorn

Wheat                                     Cow's Milk                 


Many of the foods present a choking hazard or may cause allergies.  Some juices can be too acidic for a baby's delicate system.  Honey is not recommended due to the risk of infant botulism.  Avoid these foods until the child is at least 1-year-old.  Even then, it is best to introduce them one at a time to ensure that, if there is an allergic reaction, you can easily identify the culprit. 


Regardless of the food, try not to force your baby to "clean the plate" or drink the entire bottle.  Your baby will let you know when he is full by refusing the bottle or turning away.  Overfeeding can cause stomach upset and regurgitation.  It's always a good practice to feed your baby from a plate instead of the jar.  The baby's saliva from the spoon can spoil the food when feeding directly from the jar.  Putting a small portion on a plate will preserve the rest, which can be refrigerated for up to two days. 


So how do you know when your baby is ready for solid foods?  Keep in mind that every baby is different.  But if your baby is able to sit up straight, no longer pushes food out of his mouth, has teeth to assist him with chewing, shows interest in what you are eating or needs increased feedings because he is not satisfied, it might be time to introduce solid foods to his diet.