6 Normal (but Alarming) Baby Health Issues

How Can I Teach Baby to Eat Solid Food?

Your baby's first bite of real food is one of the biggest milestones of her first year. But it may not always go smoothly.

"Babies have very varying degrees of responsiveness to solids," says Claire Lerner, director of parenting resources at Zero to Three, a nonprofit educational organization in Washington, D.C. "There are babies who will eat anything, and then there are discriminating eaters who have very specific preferences."

It can be demoralizing to continue offering spoonfuls of oatmeal or peas only to have the food flung across the room. But there's little chance that your picky eater will starve. Dr. Germain assures that, except in rare cases, as with children who have anemia or acid reflux, babies don't need anything besides breast milk or formula for their entire first year. So if your baby is protesting, it's best to back off.

"When I give Gavin rice cereal, he just spits it out," Heiserman says of her 4-month-old son. "But the pediatrician says that right now feeding is more of a play activity to teach him how to eat."

Take pleasure in experimenting with tastes and textures, and keep the process fun and relaxed. "Getting into power struggles is detrimental because nobody wins and mealtime becomes fraught with tension," Lerner says. "If the baby is pushing away the spoon and arching her back, one option is to put away what you've offered and offer it again an hour or two later." If she doesn't take to new foods at breakfast, try again at dinnertime.

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