Q I’ve been breastfeeding my baby for a full year and I think he’s ready to start eating some solid food. What kinds of foods should I start him with and how long will it take before he’s eating?

A: Getting your baby started on solid foods isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight. He’ll probably take a few days to get used to the strange new tastes and textures. Then he’s got to figure out how to move it from the front of his mouth to his throat, where he can swallow it.

Introduce solid foods slowly, one food at a time. That way, if your baby has any allergic reactions you’ll know exactly what they’re to. If your baby is nursing, solid foods at this age should augment – not replace – breastfeeding.

• Your baby’s first food should be a single-grain cereal – oatmeal, barley, or rice. For the first few days, add breastmilk or formula – but NOT cow’s milk – to make the cereal especially liquidy. If you’re buying packaged baby cereal, get the kind that’s iron fortified.

• Offer new foods at the beginning of the meal, when your baby is likely to be at his hungriest.

• Three days after you actually manage to get some cereal down your baby’s throat, start adding vegetables – one at a time, three to five days apart. Make sure he gets a good mix of yellow (carrots, squash) and green (peas, zucchini) veggies.

Many people prefer to make bananas baby’s first non-cereal food. The problem with this is that bananas are fairly sweet, and babies may become so fond of them that they won’t be interested in any other foods you may introduce later.

• After a week or so on vegetables, add the bananas and some other non-citrus fruits (again, one at a time, three to five days in between). Until he’s a year old, your baby can’t digest raw apples, but applesauce is okay.

• At some point introduce yogurt. It’s an important source of protein and can easily be mixed with other foods. If your baby doesn’t like yogurt you may be able to trick him into eating some by putting a blueberry or some other treat at the back of the spoon.

• Breads and cereals are next.

One big warning: Do not give your baby honey or corn sweeteners for at least the first year. They often contain tiny parasites that an adult’s digestive system exterminates with no problem. But the baby’s still-immature system won’t be able to handle the chore.

Armin Brott’s Web site is: www.mrdad.com.

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