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After three tablespoons of rice cereal are going down smoothly at one feeding, you may want to try other cereals such as oats and barley. Check with your baby's doctor before trying corn or wheat cereals, which provoke digestive problems in some infants.

After cereals have been established on the menu for a few weeks, you can introduce either fruits or vegetables. Vegetables may hold an advantage because they will not condition your baby to sweet tastes. Fruits can be added later, and meats introduced last. You may choose to raise a vegetarian and not introduce meats to your baby at all, but if you do so, be sure that you are adequately informed so your baby won't be deprived of any necessary nutrients.

Remember to let your baby try each new food (one to three tablespoons' worth) for a few days before introducing another. Observe for any signs of a reaction: diarrhea, irritability, runny nose, coughing or wheezing, or a rash, especially around the face. If there is any possibility that a reaction has occurred, withdraw the food, wait for the problem to calm down, and try again—unless the reaction is severe: then consult your baby's doctor. If you see the same response again, put that food aside for several weeks, and tell your baby's doctor before serving it to her again. If there's a more severe reaction, such as an immediate rash or difficulty breathing, contact the doctor immediately. Fortunately, sudden intense reactions to foods are very uncommon at this age.

Once your baby is taking food from different groups (for example, cereal and vegetables), you can feed her solids twice daily and expand to three times daily when three or more types of food are part of her daily routine. In addition, her daily intake should include about 16 to 32 ounces of breast milk or formula. (A rule of thumb is that one nursing session at this age delivers six to eight ounces of milk.) Once she has become well acquainted with solids, for most feedings you'll probably want to offer breast milk or formula after your baby has had other foods. (Milk can also be given between meals and at bedtime.) Solids won't hold much interest if her tank is already full of six or eight ounces of milk.

A few reminders about food preparation

If you are using commercially prepared baby food from a jar, make sure that the safety button in the middle of the lid pops up when you open it. If it doesn't, return the jar or throw it away. Don't feed your baby directly out of the jar because the enzymes and bacteria from her saliva may degrade or contaminate the food she doesn't finish. Instead, spoon a small amount on a plate, and put what remains in the jar into the refrigerator, where it will be good for a day (or a month frozen). Whatever is left on her plate should be thrown away.

You may prefer to prepare your own foods rather than (or in addition to) using commercial baby-food products. At first, keep them simple: adequately cooked and then pureed in a blender or baby-food grinder of mashed with a fork. Fruits other than bananas should be cooked rather than served raw.

Avoid salty, sugary and spicy concoctions as well as foods that might provoke allergic reactions. When your baby has had her fill of a particular item, you can store any extra in the refrigerator. However, before serving rewarmed food to your baby at a later meal, inspect and smell for any signs of spoilage. If in doubt, toss it out.

Solid foods do not need to be hot; room temperature or slightly warm is just fine for most babies. If you need to warm something from the refrigerator, use the microwave with extreme caution — if at all — because of the possibility of uneven temperatures and hot spots within the food that could burn the mouth. Microwaved food should be thoroughly stirred so the heat is distributed evenly throughout. If heating baby food in a jar, you can place the jar in a pan of warm water for a few minutes.

Background Information

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When Not To Discipline
Parents should recognize when they should and shouldn't discipline their children.

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Are your children constantly testing you? This classic parenting advice will help you regain the upper hand.

Questions and Answers

After I spank my child, she usually wants to hug me and make up, but I continue to be cool to her for a few hours. Do you think that is right?

We'd like to be more unified in our approach, but how do we successfully move from two financial approaches to one?

How long do you think a child should be allowed to cry after being punished? Is there a limit?

I have never spanked my 3-year-old because I am afraid it will teach her to hit others and be a violent person. Do you think I am wrong?

It just seems barbaric to cause pain to a defenseless child. Is it healthy to spank him or her?

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