Let's Start Solids

That liquid diet worked nicely, but soon your tot will be ready for some chow. Dig into this guide to what to introduce first, the yummiest finger foods, and how to make sure more mush ends up in his tummy than on the floor.

What's Your Baby-Food IQ?

Feeding baby

Aimee Herring

This quiz will spoon-feed you everything you need to know about introducing your little lip-smacker to solid fare.

1. How will your baby show she's ready to chow down?

A. She'll hold her head up.
B. She'll stare longingly at your plate.
C. She'll start sleeping for progressively longer periods during the night.

Answer A. "Your baby needs to be able to sit with support and keep her head up independently for a meal," says Ashley Hotle, R.D., a pediatric dietitian at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, in Nashville. In general, provided she's upright, you can start solids at about 6 months.

2. Your baby clamps his mouth shut when a spoonful of peas approaches. How many more times should you offer them?

A. One or two times more should do it.
B. Try five to seven times, to be sure.
C. Ten to 20 more -- he will eat peas!

Answer C. Research has shown that repeated exposure is the best way to help your baby learn to like certain foods. Just take your time. "Offer him one bite every day for a week," suggests Alan Greene, M.D., clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, in California. Research shows that eighty-five percent of little ones eventually enjoy the taste of a new food. So if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, try ... again!

3. Your baby is most open to new flavors at ...

A. 6 to 12 months.
B. 12 to 18 months.
C. 18 to 24 months.

Answer A. Your child can learn to like almost any food from the time he starts solids until he hits the picky-eater phase, which usually begins when Baby starts walking and peaks between ages 2 and 3. Start building your budding foodie's repertoire sooner rather than later.

4. You can ensure your baby's healthy-eating future by ...

A. Making healthy food choices yourself.
B. Discussing your baby's diet with your pediatrician or nurse practitioner.
C. Both of the above.

Answer C. When Mom fills up on healthy bites, her toddler is less fussy about what's on his plate and shows more interest in eating well, reveals research in The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, so start laying the good-for-you groundwork now. In another study, scientists at Pennsylvania State University found that when nurses taught new moms healthy feeding practices (such as avoiding calorie-laden, low-nutrient foods), their babies were more likely to accept veggies and new foods. But, please, don't let that stop you from dipping into a bowl of ice cream now and then. Moderation, Mama!

5. If your baby is younger than 1, you can safely feed her ...

A. Fish.
B. Grapes.
C. Hot dogs.

Answer A. Fish, as long as it's mashed up, is safe for babies who are 6 months and older. Choose swimmers that are low in mercury, such as salmon or mahi mahi. Waiting to introduce foods usually associated with allergies (fish, shellfish, cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, wheat, and soy) does nothing to prevent allergies, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. But do avoid choking hazards like grapes, hot dogs, popcorn and raw carrots.

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