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DR. DAVID HILL: Today, we're going to talk about what to feed your infant between the ages of four and seven months. This is an important transition period because at the beginning of this time, your baby still relies completely on breast milk or formula to eat. At the end of it, they're starting to take a substantial variety of solids, including cereals, fruits and vegetables but probably not meats. So how do you get from the start to the end? Well, the first thing is to look for signs that your baby is ready to eat solids.
 A baby who's ready should be able to hold their head upright very stably in a sitting position, even though he or she may not be ready to sit up on their own. Ideally, they'd be able to position themselves in mom's lap or highchair. Second, they have to lose the tongue-thrust reflex. This is a motion of the tongue needed for nursing but when you use it for solid food, it all goes down the front, none get swallowed. Third, they should be hungry despite having nourished or had an adequate formula feed. They should recognize food as food. How are you going to know when all this happens? It's pretty simple. You'll probably be sitting at the table with your baby in your lap and she's going to look over at your food and do her best to eat it. At that point, you know it's time. What do you then? Mix up a little bit of rice or other single grain cereal with water, breast milk or formula in a bowl. Couple of tablespoons is all your going to need. Put it on a small food and see how your child likes it. At first, she'll probably taste it and a lot of it's going to come out. But with time, she'll learn to swallow it rather than spit it out. If that goes well, you can always try some pureed fruits or vegetable, which you try first is not important. In the past, we recommended holding off until age six months for fruits and vegetables on a count of allergies.
 But we've learn more recently that it's not that important and you can start those at anytime you feel like your baby is ready. To review, at the beginning of this four to seven month period, your baby is going to be completely depended on breast milk or on appropriate iron fortified formula for all of her nutrition. Sometime in that time, she's going to lean forward at the dinner table and try to eat your food. You'll know she's ready for solids. When that happens, mix up a little baby cereal and see how she does with the spoon. Then work your way up to three or four feedings a day, usually after you nurse your formula feed of about two to three tablespoons at a time. Fruits, vegetable or cereals are all fine. And that is how to feed your infant between ages four and seven months.



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