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Feeding & Nutrition

Not all babies are the same, so it should come as no surprise that whatever your little one finds yummy may differ from other newborns. Huggies answers your questions and provides some food for thought when it comes to feeding your baby.

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His Royal "High-Chairness" is Just Not Hungry

Now that your baby is becoming a toddler, you'll probably notice a dramatic drop in appetite. This is perfectly normal development. While babies often triple their weight in the first year, they usually gain only five or six pounds in the second year.


Discriminating palates: a.k.a. "picky eaters"

Changes in eating habits at one year reflect not only changing bodily needs but also growing independence. Toddlers show definite likes and dislikes when it comes to food. This is a sign of their emerging individuality. Instead of pushing your child to eat a particular food, offer a variety of healthy foods and let your baby choose. In one well-known experiment, one-year-old babies who were allowed to choose from a range of wholesome foods with no pressure from adults selected what they required — and ate balanced diets over a month's time.


Impatient diners

Sometimes a baby who has just learned to walk hates to sit still for mealtimes. So respect this desire to be on the move and don't keep an active baby confined in the high chair for periods of more than 10 minutes or so.


The scoop on the spoon

Now is the time to let your child experiment with a spoon. Parents need to be prepared for messier meals and to call on all their diplomatic skills to strike a balance between helping their child and letting the child do it alone. Some parents have found that using two spoons helps: The child practices with one, while the parent pops at least a few bits into baby's mouth with the other.

It will probably take many months before your baby becomes adept at using a spoon, however. Some toddlers can use a spoon efficiently by the time they are 16 months old, but others need much more time.

Remember that you'll want to reduce your part in the feeding more and more and let your toddler take over. If you keep on feeding now, you may find that your child will lose the urge and demand that you do all the work.

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Toss the Cookies its Healthy Munching Time

By the time a child is one or two, he or she is most likely ready to explore the world. This can mean walking for the first time, showing new feelings and emotions, or branching out at meal times.

Because food preferences are established early on, this is a great time to tap into that sense of "exploration" by presenting your child with a wide range of snack, meal and drink choices. To make sure your child eats a healthy, balanced diet, start by applying the same basic guidelines you use for your own healthy eating to your child's meals and snacks.

Specifically, this means eating a balance of breads, cereal, rice and pasta; vegetables and fruit; dairy products; meat, fish, poultry and vegetarian sources of protein, such as beans and legumes; and healthy forms of fat.

The bread box. In the bread and cereal category, seek out foods that will fit in your child's hand (also known as finger foods), and that are soft enough to eat without the risk of choking. Good examples include cooked whole-wheat pasta, soft whole-grain crackers, whole-wheat bagels or bread, cooked breakfast cereal such as oatmeal or cooked rice.

The vegetable bin. When it comes to vegetables, cooked vegetables tend to be safer for young children than raw vegetables because they are softer. You can prepare canned, frozen, or fresh vegetables. Try to feed your child as many different colors of the rainbow as possible, a concept promoted by the 5-A-Day campaign. This means choosing foods from the five colors — yellow/orange, red, blue/purple, green and white. Examples include sweet potato and corn in the yellow/orange category, beets in the red category, eggplant in the blue/purple category, green beans or peas in the green category, and cauliflower in the white category.

The fruit bowl. Most toddlers love fruit and the possibilities here are endless, depending on the season and/or what's available in your supermarket. If you have time to cut and prepare fresh fruit, try strawberries, melon, pineapple, or cut-up grapes. If you are purchasing packaged fruit, try individual servings of applesauce, which are now available in a wide variety of flavors. Most kids also love watermelon on a hot sunny day and if they are thirsty, 100-percent fruit juices are a good choice. Just be mindful of letting your child fill up on juice and remember that whole fruit is a better choice nutritionally than juice.

The dairy case. Dairy products are a good source of calcium and children ages 1 to 3 require 500 mg of calcium per day, according to the American Medical Association. Good choices include cheese, yogurt, milk or even cottage cheese. Many types of cheese and yogurt are now available in individual servings, whether it's cheese sticks or tubes of yogurt. Although these may cost more than buying large containers of the product, the gimmick can often work to your advantage! Other non-dairy, kid-friendly sources of calcium include tofu, salmon, or calcium-fortified beverages, such as orange juice.

Protein choices. Good sources of protein for toddlers include lean meat, chicken or turkey, fish, eggs, tofu or cooked beans. If your child seems skittish of beans or lentils, try preparing them in soup or chili. Although the occasional cut-up hot dog or bologna sandwich probably won't hurt your child, do your best to steer clear of foods with added preservatives, salt or chemicals.

All about fat. Up to the age of two, children need plenty of fat in their diet to ensure proper brain development. (This explains why about half the calories in breast milk and infant formula come from fat.) After the age of two, children need about 30-percent of their calories from fat, according to the American Medical Association. This may mean switching from whole milk to low-fat milk, preparing lower-fat cuts of meat or poultry, or steaming, baking or broiling your food.

The cookie jar. Occasional sweets are okay, but if your child eats candy, cookies or dessert on a regular basis, this may dull his or her taste for healthier foods.

If you have questions relating to your child's nutrition, be sure to check with your pediatrician or other medical professional for expert advice.

By: Barbara C. Bourassa

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Toddler Tempting Healthy Snacks

I hate being the food police in my house. Now that my toddler has an opinion about food, the snacking battle had begun. I offer apple slices, he wants potato chips. I suggest water, he wants juice. I make a yummy mix of almonds, raisins and cranberries and he wants to eat Chex mix. It is exhausting!

According to registered dietitian Jennifer Haas, M.S., R.D. of Nova Medical &Urgent Care Center, Inc. — the largest primary care practice in Loudoun County, Virginia — snacking is essential to keep your child's metabolism going throughout the day. This will make sure your child's body is continually burning calories, which is an important component of weight management.

"If your child gets hungry, let him or her eat! Teach them to listen to their bodies. In doing so, you should also be teaching them portion control. As a parent, you are one of the biggest influences on your child's eating behaviors," says Ms. Haas, who notes that what kids learn in childhood and what they see their parents do will ultimately carry over into their adult lives. "By teaching them healthy snacking now, you can give them the tools to make smart decisions when it comes to their nutrition later in life."

Ms. Hass offers these suggestions for healthy snacks:

  • Instead of kiddie crackers try giving them cheese cubes and whole wheat crackers.
  • Instead of chips give them microwave popcorn (without the butter) or tortilla chips with salsa or bean dip.
  • Instead of fruit snacks try a frozen fruit bar.
  • Instead of sugary fruit drinks give them a nutritious fruit smoothie.
  • Instead of sugary cereals try whole wheat cinnamon toast or a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter.
  • Instead of snack bars give the kids a small bowl of trail mix (watch the portion).
  • Instead of ice cream try low-fat vanilla yogurt with honey, fruit and/or granola.

Other great, healthy kids' snacks include:

  • Apple slices with cinnamon or peanut butter
  • Fresh veggies, like carrots or cherry tomatoes, with low-fat ranch dressing
  • String cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Mini pizzas
  • Mini sandwiches, like ham and cheese or peanut butter and jelly

Ms. Haas also notes to always ask the child what she wants. If it's an item that's not completely healthy, teach your child portion control and pair the unhealthy item with a healthy one. For example, if your child wants ice cream, give her a smaller portion and pair it with fresh fruit. In addition, including the child in food preparation will make her interested in what she is eating — ultimately teaching her to choose healthier foods. Also be sure to pack snacks if you are going to be out all day. This way, you or your child won't be tempted to stop and get something high-calorie and high in fat.

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Broccoli, bananas and beans. Oh my!

Tips to tempt tiny taste buds with fruits and veggies

As a mom, you know fruits and vegetables are essential for your healthy, growing baby. Eating all that natural goodness not only provides essential nutrients for growing minds and bodies, it helps establish a lifetime of healthy eating habits and can even ward off childhood obesity and disease according to experts.

But try explaining those important nutritional facts and daily diet recommendations to your baby, and you'll likely get the same outcome as reaching the end of a good bedtime story (yawn).

Every mom's biggest food challenge is making sure tots get enough variety along with all the necessary vitamins and minerals to support strong growth. After all, baby cannot live on banana alone!

Luckily, most children nearing or at their one-year birthdays love noshing on produce, both for the taste and the textures. Fruits especially are the first to get all your baby's love since they're naturally sweet.

Still, no matter how much kids at this age enjoy dining on field-grown fare, there will likely be some picky-eater issues to overcome. In fact, most children go through a persnickety stage as food preferences change over time. And when it happens, it can present the ultimate food fight.

Before you throw in the towel, grab an apple and chew on these ideas for helping your baby transition from finicky to food fanatic.

Veggie confidential

It's not easy being green! That's why repeated exposure to new veggies is one of the best ways to get your baby to like them. And persistence pays off! It can take as many as 10 tries before your baby accepts a new food, so don't give up!

If your youngster shows no interest in broccoli today, try putting it on the menu next week, and the week after. The more times you offer it, the more familiar it becomes, and the greater the chances it will be gobbled up eventually.

When your child finally does try something new, don't go by facial expressions to judge the likeability factor. Research shows that babies' facial expressions aren't necessarily an indication that they dislike a certain food. Instead, those peculiar looks can simply be a reaction to flavors. Give your baby repeated opportunities to taste a variety of vegetables (and fruits). If he makes a negative facial expression but continues to eat, that's a positive sign.

When baby is really picky, get inventive, at least for the short term. A few stealth-health strategies can give meals a vitamin-rich boost. Try mixing steamed cauliflower into mashed potatoes, or blend pureed, cooked carrots into mac and cheese.

In general, sauces, dips and mashed servings can be the optimum way to dish up healthy fare. A tasty hummus is a nutritious choice for dipping crackers. Well-cooked, soft-skinned beans such as peas, lentils and pintos can also be mashed to perfection, making them even more palatable for little palates.

Tales from the food file. Food allergies can be a realistic concern for parents. Tara played it safe with baby Bree. "I introduced foods one at a time, keeping at least three to four days in between in case any allergic reactions surfaced. Thankfully, none did, but if they had, I could have immediately identified the culprit."

Fresh, frozen and from the farm

Some moms prefer to buy locally grown, organic produce. Not only does this reduce a child's exposure to pesticides, but organic lovers say that the flavors can be more pronounced, further encouraging a baby's taste for fresh foods.

Regrettably, fresh — as in freshly picked from the tree or plucked from the ground — sometimes isn't a feasible year-round option. Enter frozen veggies, which can be as nutrient-packed as their fresh counterparts.

In fact, the freezer can be a mom's trusty sous chef. Because blending and pureeing fresh produce can be a time-consuming process for time-starved parents, why not prepare large batches and then freeze in small, individual-sized servings? The same holds true for chopped, cooked veggies.

Tales from the food file. Mom Lori says freezing veggies in small containers is especially helpful when she's trying to reintroduce a new food every few days to 1-year-old Dillon. "I just grab a serving from the freezer, thaw, and bon appetit! It keeps me from reaching for something less healthy when I'm working against the clock."

Go bananas, and beyond

Fruit certainly has its advantages as a super food. Kids love the taste and it's easy to tote along — an especially handy feature during this active "grazing" stage. That's when kids are on the constant move and into finger foods, which makes bite-sized fruit snacking perfect as for on-the-go solutions.

If you find yourself stuck in an apples and bananas rut, why not go exotic? Try some kiwi, mango or papaya. Peeling and tasting out-of-the-ordinary fruits can be a delicious way to have fun with your baby. Just saying the words satsuma and kumquat can make a kid go all giggly! If it's that much fun to say, how much more fun will it be to bite into? As with any new foods, always be on the alert for potential allergic reactions.

To give your child the most positive, flavorful experiences, take advantage of fruit that's in season. A plump strawberry or juicy watermelon always tastes better in summer.

And don't forget avocados and tomatoes. Technically they're fruits, and powerhouse ones at that.

Avocados contain the highest protein content of any fruit. Its high-calorie content makes it one of the best produce choices you can feed your growing baby. Per serving, avocados have 3.5 grams of unsaturated fats, important for normal growth and development of the central nervous system and brain.

Savory tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C, potassium and fiber, and contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, which can help reduce the risk of cancer. Even better, lycopene absorption is actually greater when tomatoes are cooked, so sauce it up!

Color their world

From bright red tomatoes and deep green spinach, to dark purple eggplant and shiny yellow corn, your child will learn to eat what you eat. Be sure to enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables while also offering them to your little one. Together you can both enjoy a rainbow of colorful foods and reap the nutritious benefits of healthy eating.

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Bye-Bye, Bottle

Many pediatricians recommend weaning babies from bottle to cup sometime between 12 and 18 months. Extended sucking on bottles (or pacifiers or thumbs) could gradually change the shape of a toddler’s mouth, leading to problems with his dental arch or with speech. And while sippy cups have valves, bottles don’t — that means formula, milk or juice can continually dribble out, pooling around teeth and causing decay.

Making the move

To move from bottle to cup, first invite your baby to play with the cup and try it out when she’s not really hungry or thirsty, so she’s not frantic if she doesn’t figure it out right away. After she gets the hang of it, gradually substitute one bottle feeding at a time over the course of a week or more. End with the most beloved bottle, which is usually the one before bedtime or nap.

Bump up snuggle time

Make sure to give your baby lots of close physical contact and hugging when those final bottles are being replaced, so it’s only the bottle she’s missing, not your time or cuddling. And as with bottles, don’t let your child take a sippy cup of formula or breast milk to bed.

Shop around for sippy cups

If your child is really resistant to picking up a cup, try a cup with a different design or character. You can even let her pick a special cup herself. It may turn out that a different type of valve, spout or handles will work better for her.

Sandy and Marcie Jones are the authors of Great Expectations: Baby's First Year. Order your copy from Barnes & Noble

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Baby Care: Spit-Up Happens! How To Get It Out

When it comes to spitting up, babies aren’t afraid to let loose. They’ll do it on the couch, the carpet, the beautiful baby blanket from Grandma Gloria, Grandma Gloria herself. But don’t throw in the (burp!) towel—here are four super-easy ways to clean it, quick.

1. The it’s-worked-for-eons method. Laundry stain sticks and sprays are modern-day miracles, but in a pinch try this: Dab (don’t rub) the big blobs of spit-up with a burp cloth or sponge. Then dip a wet washcloth in baking soda and blot the stain.

2. The au-naturale method. A little lemon juice and plain old sunshine bleach out spit-up stains. "If I’ve washed something and there’s still a trace of spit-up," says Christina Poston, a mother of one in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, "I squeeze lemon juice on it and let it dry in the sun. It always works. I just don’t use it on anything dark because it’ll fade it."

3. The always-good-in-an-emergency method. It’s guaranteed to happen at least once (or 10 times): Baby spits up all over you when you’re out and about. This is where baby wipes come in handy…for you. I always have wipes on me—they’re pretty much surgically attached to my hands these days—so I just use them remove spit-up from clothes," says Lisa Smith, a mother of two in Houston, TX. "Wipes take it up easy and leave no smell."

4. The oops-let-me-get-that-for-you method: So the relatives stop by to meet your little sweetie for the first time. He coos, he smiles, he belches, he spits up all over Uncle Joe’s shoulder. No worries: People understand it’s one of those things that babies do. Simply grab a wipe or washcloth and dab the mess. Humor helps. Laugh and say something like, "Oh, that’s just his way of showing affection," or "He’s prepping for his college years."

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First flavors can last a lifetime

Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia report that feeding experiences during the first seven months of life may contribute to food likes and dislikes.

"This research may help us to understand early factors involved in human food preferences and diet choice, an area with many important health implications. We can explore these early influences systematically by studying infants who are breastfeeding, as well as babies whose parents have decided to formula-feed," explains study lead author Julie Mennella, PhD.

As part of a research program aimed at understanding the underlying basis for individual food differences, the Monell researchers compared flavor preferences of bottle-fed infants raised on two different types of commercially available infant formula. One was a standard milk-based formula.

The second formula is called a protein hydrolysate because the proteins are "pre-digested" to help babies absorb them more easily. The two formulas are similar nutritionally but differ markedly with regard to flavor: Milk-based formulas are described as bland and cereal-like, while hydrolysates taste exceedingly unpleasant to most adults — bitter and sour with a horrible aftertaste.

In the study, reported in the April 2004 issue of Pediatrics, 53 babies were fed one of the two infant formulas for seven months. Starting at about two weeks of age, one group was fed only the standard formula while a second group received only the hydrolysate formula. Two additional groups combined three months of hydrolysate feeding, introduced at different times, with four months of standard formula.

Because infants accept hydrolysate formulas readily during the first four months of life, all babies were content regardless of the formula they were fed.

At the end of the exposure period, all infants were given the chance to feed with both types of formula. The babies' behavior and the amount they fed depended on which formula they had been fed during the previous seven months. Seven-month-old babies who had never been fed the hydrolysate formula strongly rejected it. In contrast, infants accustomed to the formula appeared relaxed and happy while feeding, and drank more of the hydrolysate formula.

Mennella observes, "It is often difficult for parents to feed these formulas to their babies because they think it tastes bad. These findings reveal if the baby feeds this formula by three months of age, the baby learns to like its taste."

These early influences persist to shape flavor preferences during childhood — and perhaps longer. In earlier studies from Mennella's laboratory, four- to five-year-old children fed hydrolysates during infancy were more accepting of sour taste and aroma — sensory qualities associated with these formulas — than children fed other formulas.

The current findings complement Mennella and co-author Beauchamp's long-term research program on how breastfeeding infants learn about flavors. Because breast milk transmits flavors of mothers' diets to nursing babies, breast fed babies are exposed to flavor experiences during the nursing period. The Monell researchers suggest that this natural early flavor exposure serves to establish flavors of the mother's diet — which will subsequently be fed to the growing child — as acceptable and preferred.

Mennella comments on some of the implications, "Because we know that flavor preferences established early in life track into later childhood, eating habits in the growing child may begin to be established long before the introduction of solid food."

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Picky eaters

The daily war

The mere sight of peas evokes a screaming match from Ann's otherwise well-behaved five-year-old daughter Abbie.

"I've tried everything to get her to at least take a bite. There are only a few things that she does like and they are not very nutritious," says Ann.

It's an all-too-familiar scene. At one time in our lives, all of us were probably picky eaters — refusing to eat anything but toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It frustrated our parents. How were we going to get all the minerals and vitamins our growing bodies needed?

So what does a parent do with a pre-schooler who refuses to eat fruits or vegetables and claims the only food that isn't "gross" is peanut butter sandwiches? Do you force or bribe them to finish what is on their plate? How do you avoid a food fight with your five-year-old?

Most experts agree it is not worth rolling out the heavy artillery to get your kids to eat what you think they should. Here are some tips to keep peace at the dinner table.

Let your child see you eating healthy foods

Jeffrey Hampl, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, believes the solution is for parents to keep "undesired" food out of the house in the first place.

"Practice what you preach and set a good example for healthy eating," he says.

Know that it's OK when your child doesn't like something

Not everyone — adults included — likes spinach. But you need to find a nutritional equivalent that your child will eat. "Parents are in a position to buy and cook healthy foods. If they don't want any, respect that choice, but don't make junk food an alternative option," says Hampl, who is also an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at Arizona State University.

It's easier for children to reach nutritional requirements than many parents think. If they won't eat vegetables, fruits have a similar amount of fiber and vitamins. If kids won't drink milk, offer yogurt, cheese or broccoli.

Keep introducing new foods

Place one-or two-bite portions of the new food on your child's plate, alongside more familiar foods, at each meal. Do not comment on whether or not they eat the new food. After several trials, the food will not seem so new and they may decide to try it.

"I would gently encourage your child to try something rather than fight over it. If they don't want to, so be it. As they grow older they will develop their own tastes. Tastes change over time," says Lawrence Balter, child psychologist, professor of applied psychology at New York University and editor of Parenthood in America: An Encyclopedia.

Don't force it

Don't force your child to finish his plate — six hours later, he'll still be sitting there.

"Parents should not make a child finish what is on their plate. Time at the table depends on age and circumstances: toddlers can eat in a minute and be allowed to run off and play. It is not wise to create power struggles over dining. If a child truly doesn't want to eat something, there is no value in making a big fuss about it. If they are not hungry now, but want to eat at an inconvenient time later, then provide them with something quick and nutritious," says Balter.

If you are worried your children are not getting their required nutrients — for the most part you don't have to. "'One-food jags' typically last from 10 days to two weeks. Keep track of what your child eats for a few weeks, and you will probably see that the child is not missing out on any nutrients in the long-term," says Hampl.

"Nobody really knows why some children limit themselves. It is usually the case with pre-schoolers. One likely reason is that they want sameness because it is reassuring," says Balter.

Rule out any medical problems

Being a picky eater early in life does not mean the child will develop eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia later. "Almost all kids go through a picky eating phase. It's a normal part of development," says Hampl.

But parents should pay attention to some warning signs that a child's eating habits are dangerous. If a child is not physically or socially active or if there is a total lack of eating, parents should worry. Trust your instincts. And make regular checkups with a doctor to make sure your child is growing normally.

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Top tips for breastfeeding

Arm and back support. Before you feed, make sure you’re seated comfortably with full support for your back, feet and arms. Use a breastfeeding pillow or other firm, thick pillow to help support the baby’s weight. She’ll seem very light at first, but after 20 minutes she’ll feel a lot heavier!

Make the nipple sandwich. Compress the entire dark part of your nipple with your thumb on top and fingers underneath. Tickle baby's mouth with your nipple so her mouth will reflexively open and then stuff the whole nipple sandwich as far back into her mouth as you can. The object is to get the “sprinkler” part of your nipple to the very back of her tongue. You’ll know you’re positioned right when the baby’s mouth makes a tight seal around almost all of the dark part of your nipple.

Take your time. In the first weeks, you can’t feed too often or for too long. Let your baby feed on demand and for as long as she wants on each side. It can take a newborn as long as 30 minutes a side to get enough, and she will probably need to feed every one to three hours. Once you and baby get the hang of it, feedings will naturally start to get faster and further apart.

Count diapers. There’s no simple way to tell exactly how much milk a breastfed baby gets at a feed, but you’ll know your baby’s getting enough if you see her jaw moving and hear her swallowing, if she produces at least six wet diapers every 24 hours and if she’s gaining weight at a rate of at least a half-ounce per day.

Sandy & Marcie Jones are the authors of Great Expectations: Baby’s First Year. Order your copy from Barnes & Noble.

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Feeding your new finger foodie

Big step toward independence

About the time that babies start to move around on their own and pick up most anything and everything within reach, they begin to show an interest in feeding themselves. Self-feeding is a big step toward independence and also helps a baby learn eye, hand and mouth coordination.



Prepare yourself for messy mealtime

When it comes time for self-feeding, you'll want to encourage your baby's efforts and get ready for a few months of messy mealtimes — with more food on the face or on the floor than in the baby. This is okay, and a stage that every parent goes through. Take a deep breath and let them dig in!



First they gum

Finger foods should be firm enough to pick up and hold, yet tender enough to "gum" (and later on, to chew) and swallow easily. You can tell if a cooked food is the proper consistency for self-feeding if it can be pierced easily with a fork. Keep the pieces large enough for baby to grasp, but small enough so that even those pieces swallowed whole won't be lodged in the throat.



And then they chew

As your baby grows and becomes more adept at chewing, you can add munchier foods. Try zwieback or French toast, small chunks of soft cheese, or fruits that have been peeled and cut into bite-size pieces. Dry cereal is another favorite finger food, but one that's too difficult for babies of this age to manage. Wait until your child is about nine months old before offering this snack, and when you do, make sure it's the sugarless kind.



Signs that mealtime is over

Some babies may delight in flinging their food about or dropping it to watch it land on the floor. Babies will often do this toward the end of a meal when they've had enough to eat and are no longer hungry. If this happens, simply say that mealtime is over, take the baby down from the chair, and go on to some other — less messy — activity. Or, you may simply prefer to remove the food from the high-chair tray and give your baby a favorite toy or two to play with.



Keep it interesting, keep it healthy

You'll find other suggestions for finger foods in baby-food cookbooks. Of course, if you have any questions about suitable foods, ask your doctor. He or she is the best source of information about the proper nutrition for your baby.

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