- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 9, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ditch the rice cereal and mashed peas, and make way for enchiladas, curry and even hot peppers.

It turns out that most advice parents get about weaning infants onto solid foods — even from pediatricians — is more myth than science.

That’s right, rice cereal might not be the best first food. Peanut butter doesn’t have to wait until after the first birthday. Offering fruits before vegetables won’t breed a sweet tooth. And strong spices? Bring ‘em on.

“There’s a bunch of mythology out there about this,” said Dr. David Bergman, a Stanford University pediatrics professor. “There’s not much evidence to support any particular way of doing things.”

Word of that has been slow to reach parents and the stacks of baby books they rely on to navigate this often intimidating period of their children’s lives. But that may be changing.

As research increasingly suggests a child’s first experiences with food shape later eating habits, doctors say battling obesity and improving the American diet might mean debunking the myths and broadening babies’ palates.

“Parents have lost touch with the notion that these charts are guides, not rules,” said Rachel Brandeis, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. “Babies start with a very clean palate, and it’s your job to mold it.”

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