Babies used to be given solid food almost from birth. Now it's believed that it's best to wait until at least four to six months of age, when the baby's digestive system is more fully developed. When you begin solids, they should only supplement milk or formula feedings, not totally substitute for them. Make sure the baby can sit up, and set up a sturdy high chair or feeding seat, making sure the baby's comfortable in it. Use a spoon to feed solid foods, rather than a bottle. The spoon should be small, either a baby spoon or ice tea spoon, preferably with a plastic coating. You may want to allow the child to hold the spoon. Rice cereal, served at room temperature or slightly warm, is considered a good first type of solid food to try. The first few times you introduce solid food, give just the tiniest bits and allow time to react. After the first few bites, the child may begin opening his or her mouth, anticipating more. The first few times, the food may come back out of the mouth, which is normal. Keep in mind the child is learning how to use the tongue and how to swallow. Don't force the child to eat. If the food continues to slide out, perhaps the child isn't yet ready for solid food. After two or three spoonfuls are going down smoothly, you can try other cereals, then later add strained vegetables, and finally fruits. Of course, there are prepackaged commercial foods, but with the ease of appliances such as food grinders and processors, many people are choosing to prepare fresh food instead. Because this is the time a child's eating habits are established, make sure you encourage healthful eating from the start.
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