Jun 14, 2019 | Plantsonify |
How To Successfully Get Your Child To Eat Vegetables Without Tears plantsonify.com/child-eat-vegetables Steps For Getting Your Child To Eat A Variety Of Vegetables Getting your child to eat vegetables and other unfamiliar foods is tough. It can cause a lot of struggle at mealtimes. These following steps are intended to help you transition a child of any age over to being more accepting and adventurous when it comes to new foods, especially vegetables. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read the full disclosure policy for more info. When To Start Baby’s First Foods It’s between you and your pediatrician as to when they recommend starting solids. A baby’s first food needs to be soft. Typically first foods are puréed completely with little texture. Baby led weaning is becoming more common as well. This involves giving baby much of the same food you’re eating but with appropriate softness and sizing. Baby’s gag reflex is triggered further forward in their mouth the younger they are. Up until 4-6 months old, this includes a tongue thrust motion that isn’t compatible with eating solid food. Once a little older, baby may not have teeth yet but they’re strong gums are more than enough to chew softer chunks. 1/6 First Foods: Skip The Rice Cereal Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, usually a suggestion from a well–meaning person is to start your baby on rice cereal. For our parents and grandparents, this was the typical first food. Nowadays it’s being recommended less and less. Rice cereal is nutritionally devoid. It is usually made from white rice that has had hull removed. This hull has a lot of vitamins. The hull also takes longer to digest and prevents a blood sugar spike. With white rice, you get that spike. Manufacturers add in synthetic vitamins to try and make up for the lack of nutrition. Many of these synthetic vitamins do not absorb as readily as vitamins found in real food. Rice Cereal Contains Arsenic Rice readily absorbs many heavy metals from the soil. Even with organic versions, pesticide runoff contaminates the soil. High arsenic levels are found in rice grown on land that use to be used for cotton crops. Cotton production uses the highest levels of pesticides for any crop. All of these heavy metals accumulate in the soil. So even if pesticides haven’t been used at that location for years, the rice has some of the highest arsenic levels due to the soil. Heavy metal toxicity causes serious damage to a body. It takes a lot less arsenic to cause damage in a baby vs adult. Mimic Nature: Breast Milk Is Sweet Take a cue from nature. Breast milk contains a high concentration of lactose. Lactose is a sugar and tastes sweet. Breast milk also contains a lot of fat. The flavors of breast milk change based on what the mother has eaten. This gives breastfed babies a slight leg up when it comes to their age of first tasting complex flavors, spices, fruits, and vegetables. This doesn’t mean that formula fed babies can’t learn to love more complex flavors. They just aren’t use to it yet since formula will typically taste the same every bottle. The natural sweetness of breastmilk predisposes babies to like sweeter tasting solid food. This can be used to the parent’s advantage when adding in new foods. Start Your Baby On Vegetables Steam frozen vegetables and mush with avocado. I start with peas and cauliflower. 2/6 Cauliflower is pretty neutral and peas have a slight sweetness. Avocado is a healthy fat full of vitamins. It doesn’t have a strong taste which doesn’t overwhelm baby’s palate. They’re use to drinking high fat milk and my son took to eating this quickly. If your child doesn’t like it immediately, keep offering it frequently. Their taste buds will adjust. Use Sweeter Vegetables To Your Advantage Sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets are sweet vegetables and are a perfect lead-in. These can be bought fresh or frozen and steamed. If I make a larger amount of food I’ll break it into smaller portions. Each portion I’ll flavor slightly different and put in a 4 oz jelly jar to freeze. Add In Spices (Not Spicy) If I’m using sweet potatoes, one portion might have cinnamon, another rosemary or thyme. I stay salt-free. If you prefer not to make your own baby food, choose store–bought baby food with no added sugar that also features some vegetables. They can be mashed as smooth or chunky as your baby will eat as long as the size of the chunks aren’t choking hazards. Combine Fruits With Vegetables Smoothies are an effortless way to add greens into baby’s diet. An overripe spotted banana will cover the taste of greens in a smoothie. Blend frozen fruit with banana and whatever greens you have on hand. I’ve used romaine, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard. Add more water if it’s too thick. I place smoothies into a straw cup for my baby. Smoothies turn brown as they oxidize so I prefer to give these fresh. I end up drinking most of the smoothie I make. Keeps me healthy as well. Offer Fresh Vegetable Juice The saying “Blend your fruits, juice your vegetables” can be used here. Fruit has a high sugar content. When you juice fruit you get a blood sugar spike. Fruit needs the fiber to slow down the digestion process and prevent the spike. Vegetables can be juiced without getting that spike. You don’t have to juice but if you do, it’s a nice concentration of vegetables. An easy juice blend is greens, celery, carrots, apple, and lemon. The majority of the juice is from greens and celery with only one apple and ½ a lemon. 3/6 If that combo isn’t sweet enough, add in more apple. You can slowly start decreasing the amount of fruit as they get use to drinking it. Juicing produces a concentrated flavor that really young babies may not be ready for. Use Pasta As A Healthy Option Use different types of pasta like lentil and chickpea. Pasta is a staple in our house. The shapes are small and perfect for self-feeding. Grocery stores today have many types of pasta. Instead of white pasta try wheat, brown rice, chickpea, black bean, green lentil, red lentil, or adzuki bean pasta. Each will have a different texture and taste. Create Sauces For Pasta Since pasta is such a hit, use that to create vegetable packed sauces. The great thing about sauce is it can be blended so that you can’t see the individual ingredients anymore. Your child probably will not notice cooked carrots blended into marinara. Spinach and chickpeas can also be blended effortlessly. Involve Your Child Involving your child can do wonders with their willingness to try new foods. If they grocery shop with you, let them pick out one vegetable they want to try that week. If it’s an ingredient you’ve never used before then find a recipe together that sounds tasty. Curate curiosity in the kitchen and involve them as much as possible, even if it’s only to rinse lettuce. What little kid doesn’t like buttons? It seems that children have a tracking device to find buttons to press. Use this to get the child excited about using the blender and juicer. If age appropriate, they can help chop and prepare the produce. Young kids can dump a bowl of frozen berries into a blender easily. The point is, let them get involved and give them autonomy to make choices. Let them choose what type of smoothie they want today. Don’t Snack: Stick To Planned Meal Times When I’m out at a store, over half of the children I see tend to be eating something. Usually small crackers or cereal. They’re being pushed along, mindlessly eating. If you ate bits of food all day, you wouldn’t be hungry for actual meals. Our household follows three meals a day and 1 snack. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack around 3PM. My child can of course have water to drink any time he wants but finger foods are limited to meal times. 4/6 Breakfast is usually oatmeal, a smoothie, or bagel with avocado. Lunch is pasta with sauce, puree, or some of what I’m eating. Sometimes all 3 if he’s hungry. His snack is when he wakes from napping. We may make vegetable juice, another smoothie, or some fresh fruit. Dinner is our family meal. Eat As A Family Our child eats with my husband and I at the table. He gets whatever we are having that night that is child safe. Dinners are where we have the most variety. When our son sees both his dad and mom at the table eating the same food he’s being offered, he warms up to it quickly. It’s biological that our children look to their parents and mimic. Him seeing us eat the food tells him that it is safe to eat. There was one evening when our son was 8 months old. My husband and I were eating Indian curry. We had puree and some pasta for our son. He refused to eat any of his food and kept reaching out towards our plates of curry. We relented and gave him some. He loved it! Lentil curry is now one of his favorite foods. Watch The Meal’s Salt And Spice Content I love spice. Much to my husband’s dismay, whenever I cooked food early on in our marriage his eyes would start tearing up from the heat. I’ve since mellowed out how much spice I add to a dish. Now with a child eating it, I include even less heat. I add normal amounts of herbs and spices but will limit the salt and heat inducing spices. I’ll add those after the food is served so that it isn’t too much sodium or heat for my son. Creating Healthy Habits: The Trap Of Dessert I often hear about parents telling their kids that if they don’t eat their vegetables then they can’t have dessert. While this initially sounds like a good way to get them to eat their veggies, the problem is in the long term. Do this frequently and you’re teaching your child that vegetables are bad or taste gross. You have to bribe them in order to make them sound appealing. It isn’t wise to leverage dessert for compliance. Instead, take an approach where dessert is fruit only. Dessert isn’t supposed to be equivalent to a second meal’s worth of calories and a sugar rush. If you start having choices of fruit as the option for dessert, then you satisfy any sweets craving but it’s much healthier. Don’t Give Up: Keep Offering The Same Foods Many Times 5/6 If you’re starting with an older child or your baby doesn’t seem to enjoy a particular food, that doesn’t mean to stop offering it. Overly sweet, salty, and greasy foods are biologically addictive. Taste buds need time to adjust and appreciate produce. When I first gave my son avocado, he hated it. As soon as it touched his tongue he started gagging like he was going to vomit. Mind you, no avocado actually made it into his mouth. How could he not like avocado? Avocado is a food group in our family. It took 13 additional tries of avocado before he started eating it. I didn’t continue to only offer it plain. He got some mashed in potatoes, mixed with salsa for guacamole, as avocado pesto sauce for pasta, with peas mixed in, on a piece of bagel. You get the idea. Don’t let one, or even 12, dislikes of a food indicate you should give up. His taste buds adjusted and now he gets excited when he sees an avocado. He’ll eat guacamole by the spoonful. Don’t Make A Separate Meal Make it easy on yourself. Dinner is what’s for dinner. Everyone in the family is eating what is made and must take at least one bite of everything. There’s no negotiating because there are no other options. Successfully Get Your Child To Love Vegetables 6/6
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