Safe starters for baby's first food

Beth Whitehouse

Newsday columnist Beth Whitehouse Beth Whitehouse

Beth Whitehouse writes about children and families.

bio | email

I'm starting my baby on table food, and I'm terrified she's going to choke. What are the safest foods to feed her?

When starting table food, you want to vary the nutritional content and texture of the foods, says Dr. Karin Sadow, a pediatrician who is regional medical director for P.M. Pediatrics, with offices in Syosset and Selden. Good first choices include small pieces of avocado, sweet potato and banana. Mashed cooked carrots are also a smart choice.

You could try cereals such as Kix and Cheerios, which are lower in sugar and will "melt" quickly in a baby's mouth. Wait as each is swallowed before feeding her another. "I would not let her put a fistful in her mouth," Sadow says. Put them on a tray and let her pick each one up herself, with your supervision. This will give her a sense of dining independence that she likely is beginning to crave, Sadow says. "I think the babies are kind of excited to feed themselves," she says.

Avoid nuts, raisins, hard carrots, gum, whole grapes, hot dogs, popcorn and even marshmallows because they are so gooey, Sadow says. Don't let the baby eat in the car while you are driving, because you won't be able to supervise well enough.

To help with your anxiety, take an infant CPR course, which should include how to handle infant choking. Many doctors' offices, including PM Pediatrics, offer such courses. "Every parent," Sadow says, "should be trained in basic CPR."