The traditional first solid food for Japanese babies is rice, not rice cereal. They cook it with milk to make it softer, and then gradually thicken it up. By a year or so, kids are eating straight rice. Of course, according to the infant cookbook I brought home from Tokyo, kids also eat fish, seaweed, all kinds of vegetables, and whatever else along the way.
According to pediatricians, including at least one AAP board member, the US's slow, bland, grains-based arc for introducing solid foods is woefully Western-centric and based more on myths than science.
The AP writer's attention-getting advice, then: throw out the "rules" [they're more like guidelines anyway] and throw in the meat and the spices. DT reader Mark has a more measured assessment: "The big breakthrough appears to have been the realization that the entire world doesn't do things exactly how America does. Who knew?"
Sho' nuff. And though I'm proud of my Pop-Tarts-to-seaweed-eating kid, and we're still cautious of allergy-prone foods, I think the real story is why there's little to no research in any country on the subject of infants and solid foods. Until I see something from the AAP, not just the AP, the kid and I are gonna take all this advice with a healthy dose of salt [and cumin, garlic, and curry.]
Doctors bust baby-feeding myths [ap/azcentral via dt reader Mark]