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Feeding Baby
by Jodie Lynn

Can I feed my 4-month-old baby homemade food that is strained and mashed? Is fruit okay?

You need to ask your pediatrician what is the best time schedule for introducing fruits, vegetables, and meats. I made all of my fruits and vegetables for my first born. Using only fresh or frozen foods, I cooked, mashed and froze the individual items. An excellent time saver for portions is freeze the cooked food in an ice tray. Take the individual food cubes and store them in a freezer bag. When you need the food, just take out the amount of cubes that you need and warm them up. - Diane in IL

My 6-month-old son started on solids before he was 4 months old. He was a large baby and seemed to always be hungry. Even though he was formula-fed from birth, this was simply not enough to fill him up. The first thing the pediatrician told us to try was the baby rice mixed with his formula. We then cooked fresh vegetables and mashed them and then mixed them in the rice. Next, he suggested we wait three to four weeks and try fruit. He is 11 months old now and eats much like the rest of us, with some restrictions of course, and truly enjoys feeding himself. - Gloria in New Zealand

From Jodie: Since this is often a controversial topic, talk the situation over with your pediatrician. It's controversial in large part because many allergists think that introducing solids too early to babies is a surefire way to cause them to develop allergies. Many times, formula or breast milk will be the only nutrition your new baby will need.

However, I have seen larger and more active babies require solids at an earlier age. Why? Just like adults, babies have different metabolic rates and therefore may sometimes have different needs. Homemade foods are best as long as they are not sweetened or salted wi th over-the-counter chemicals adults usually use.

Again, each food needs to be introduced once every two weeks or so and you must monitor their reactions very carefully. Watch and make a list of skin color, sleeping habits, bowel movements, breathing and eating habits. Do they sleep longer, have more energy, seem less cranky and happier?

Watch for rashes on the skin and do not introduce anything else new until those two to three weeks are up. If certain things do happen, cut the food out and introduce it again in 8 weeks.

Check out Super Baby Food, 2nd Edition, by Ruth Yaron ($19.95, F. J. Roberts) for simple homemade baby food that has satisfied tons of babies and their parents. But most importantly of all, remember the very first thing that I said: check with your pediatrician. He or she will know what to do.

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