Starting your baby on solid foods can be stressful. Here's how to keep him safe and healthy as he begins his eating adventures.
Introduce Allergens Carefully
Eight foods are responsible for 90 percent of food allergies: milk, wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, and fish. Berries, citrus, seeds, and corn can also be problematic.
Choose Full-fat Dairy Products
Growing babies need fat and calories. Low-fat dairy products don't offer enough and nonfat options often call on additives and preservatives, sugars, and salt for texture and flavor enhancements. While your baby won't start drinking cows' milk instead of breast milk or formula until his first birthday, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese are excellent options for first foods. Choose the full-fat version even if your personal stash is skim.
Avoid Food-borne Illnesses
Babies are especially susceptible to food-borne illnesses because of their fragile and just-developed immune systems. Raw or undercooked eggs can expose babies to salmonella. Unpasteurized milk and veined cheeses can harbor Listeria. Honey is not recommended for babies under 12 months because it can contain Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria that can be managed by most developed--but not immature--immune systems.
Hold Back on Salt
Don't add salt to jarred baby food or any you make at home, and check for high sodium levels in processed foods -- including smoked fish, meats, and cheeses -- that you may be feeding your baby. Too much salt can be difficult for tiny kidneys to process and can cause dehydration. If you feed your baby the same food the rest of the family is eating, hold off on seasoning it with salt until after you portion out her share.