I should probably preface this post by noting that I have a 31-pound one year old who eats almost everything we put in front of him. But, I have been asked more than once how we got him to eat so well. While I am confident that his eating habits were not born 100% of the steps we took, I do think some of the things we did encouraged his extensive palate.
Always, always, always introduce vegetables before fruit. I think our tendency is to offer fruit first because it looks, sounds, and smells SO much better than smushed veggies. But, that is exactly the problem. Pureed fruit DOES taste better than pureed vegetables so, when we offer it first, it makes getting our babies to eat vegetables much harder. The same is true when introducing solids. Take the few extra minutes to steam some squash or carrots. Once your little one has grown accustomed to whole vegetables, offer fruit as well.
Don’t Give Up
My son rejected pureed carrots many, many times before he was willing to eat them. I did not force them on him. But, I would offer them at the beginning of every meal time until he acquired a taste for them. We have to remember that we are offering our children things they have never tasted before. Give them time to learn to like something new. You don’t have to force feed your babies, but you don’t have to throw in the towel. Just consistently offer a new taste until they learn to like it. This doesn’t always work — my little man still hates peas — but it works more often than not for us.
Try New Combinations
There are so many baby food concoctions out there now that it can be overwhelming. But, the beauty is the opportunity to introduce variety early on. I’ll be honest, a blend of black beans, cherries, strawberries, spinach, and oats does not make my mouth water. But my son LOVES it. Once I knew he liked that flavor, I bought every variety containing black beans I could find and realized that that was the flavor he was so enjoying. This is also how we introduced kale, chickpeas, guava, avocado, and bell peppers. Another way to get creative with introducing new veggies is through Dixie Fresh, a fabulous local company that offers farm fresh fruits and veggies for your kiddos! They have lots of options to choose from.
Keep a log of what your child is eating, what they like, and what they don’t. This will help you to notice patterns. Provide more of the vegetables they like while continuing to offer tastes of ones that they aren’t keen on yet. Once you have introduced solids, watch how they eat their food. I spent what felt like forever trying to figure out why my son only ate his broccoli 50% of the time. I finally realized that he was only eating the tops and that he had a hard time chewing the stems. So, now I cut off the tops for him and he devours every bite (and gets the same nutritional benefits of eating whole pieces).
If your child is not currently a vegetable lover, stick with it, Mama! You may get a few peas thrown at you, but it will be worth it.
Share your tips below for encouraging your babies to eat veggies!