3 Simple Steps to Get Baby to Eat & LOVE Vegetables
It’s the age-old question, the mystery that’s haunted civilizations for years. . .
How do you get kids to eat veggies?
*dramatic music begins*
You would think that by now we’d have a foolproof way to tackle this issue, yet here we are 2018! – the struggle’s still alive. But, I want to give you some encouragement today you awesome parent, you – you can get your kids to eat veggies, and love them, too! How do I know you might ask? Because my picky son not only eats them, he actually really loves them! Now I know you’re probably thinking, “Okay, great for yooou Vanessa! Let’s give her a round-of-applause, shall we!” But, I’m convinced what I did can work for you, too.
SIDE NOTE: This post is specifically for all my mamas who have yet to start solids with their baby, orrr they’re like super fresh to the game – I’m talking baby has no idea what sugar tastes like. If you’re finding your toddler well into the eating game and you’re struggling to get them to eat veggies/healthy things I’ve got a post which is more geared for you coming in a few days.
How to Get Babies to Eat Vegetables
If your baby hasn’t started solids yet (or at least hasn’t had any sugars), then you’re in the ideal spot. Since eating habits have yet to be created for your little one, you can start this journey off right! Here are the steps that I took to make my not-even-two-year-old love him some veggies from the get-go!
STEP ONE: Start With Baby Cereal + Pureed Veggies
Because baby needs to first work their way to eating soild, raw veggies, you should start with baby cereal and purees. My son’s Pediatrician said we could’ve done the following schedule to introduce solids: 2-days baby cereal, then 2-days later add pureed veggies, then 2-days later add pureed meats (chicken and turkey). We felt that was a little too fast for our liking. and since our son had a sensitive stomach we wanted to give him time to adjust to everything new we were putting in.
So, we decided to do one to two weeks on just the baby cereal (this is of course in addition to either breast or bottle feeding), then adding in pureed veggies (some meats). By the time we added in the pureed veggies, we’d do the baby cereal for breakfast, purees for lunch and purees or baby cereal again for dinner (breast/bottle feeding when he wanted and before naps). Eventually as time went on we’d make his food chunkier and chunkier. For instance, in his cereal we eventually added mashed banana, then we began adding raisins. In his purees we’d add bits of soft carrot, whole peas, mini-mini pasta and chunks of soft meat.
After he got adjusted to the chunky-ness we let what pureed food we had run out, and we started on the journey of non-puree, whole foods!
IMPORTANT NOTE: While fruits are delicious and great for our little ones, they’re on the sweeter side and contain natural sugars. Because we’re wanting to get baby’s interest locked and loaded for veggies, my son’s Pediatrician suggested we stray from filling his plate with fruits. So, other than banana (in his cereal) we avoided fruits until he was about two months or so into eating veggies regularly – this helped us avoid him wanting nothing but fruits, which is what many parents also struggle with.
STEP TWO: Give Only Veggies/Healthy Foods Until They’ve Acquired the Taste
I think this is where a lot of people may take a wrong turn. When baby is little, their taste-buds are totally inexperienced. Rather than using their newfound ability to chew on chunks of food as a door to sugars and empty carbs, why not get them adjusted and acquainted with whole veggies and healthy stuff first? I personally believe that if you introduce sweets to kids too early, you set them up for failure.
“You don’t know what you don’t know!” If we don’t introduce sugars and unhealthy things to our children for awhile they’ll have no idea what they’re missing! I hear a lot of parents say, “Oh just give them a cookie, it won’t kill them!” Well, technically, yes, it won’t kill them – but it will make it a whole lot harder to get them on the right food track. Also, as we all know, “monkey see, monkey do,” so we personally need to make some adjustments, too! Our kids want what we have, so if we’re scarfing down oreos and ice cream, but we’re trying to have them chomp on some carrots, odds are they’re going to want what you’re munchin’ on. So, either cut that stuff out of your diet for awhile (I recommend) or just keep a secret stash that you only access when they’re sleeping.
The goal is to give their virgin taste buds nothing but nutritious solids until they’ve acquired the taste. That means exploring different vegetable options until you discover what they like. So, for instance, with our son we started with peas. I knew it was something he’d enjoy since he could pick them up and work on his motor skills (he is very much a I can do it for myself kinda dude, so I thought this would appeal to him). At first, he didn’t like peas, he would just smoosh them. So, I tried something else – but soft mini sweet potato chunks weren’t a success either. Then, lo and behold, carrots – he loved them! We then introduced avocado (he’d eat a whole half in one sitting), and he loved all kinds of beans. Then we tried the dreaded broccoli, and surprisingly he went to town on those tree sprouts!
In addition, we kept searching until we found more and more healthy foods he was excited to eat that we could add to his meal plan. To put it simply, our action plan was:
a. Explore various veggies until you land on one’s they tolerate and begin to love.
b. Keep circling back around to other veggies/healthy foods you’ve tried with no success – perhaps they’ll begin to acquire a taste for it after a few go arounds.
c. REPEAT (a.) and (b.) until they’ve got a diverse range of veggies and healthy food options that they’re eating on a daily basis
IMPORTANT NOTE: We personally did not mix any of the veggies that we were newly introducing. So, if it was his first time eating broccoli, we wouldn’t mix it with the veggies he was already loving. We didn’t want to correlate the taste or visuals of a veggie he didn’t like with a veggie he already grew to love. This could have resulted in him reverting with veggies we already made some headway with.
REASSURANCE: We let our son’s Pediatrician know what we were going to do (in regards to what I described above) and expressed our worry that he may basically starve himself. His Pediatrician reassured us that as long as he’d been in practice when parents get restrictive with their babies diets for one reason or another, he’d never seen a baby let themselves starve – they will eventually eat. And obviously, as their loving and kind parent, you would never let them starve either. So, know that it can very well be hard at the front-end, but our babies are like us, they will eat. Don’t give in to giving them sugars and processed crud – your efforts will pay off soon enough!
To this day he eats pretty much anything we sit in front of him veggie/healthy food wise – minus some things, of course (those darn sweet potatoes!).
STEP THREE: No Sweets Until They’re At Least One
By keeping our children’s little taste buds pure for the first few months of life, you avoid giving them the opportunity to dislike good stuff. We all know the struggle – at one time or another, we’ve been guilty of gravitating toward the processed, sugary stuff over the “I know it’s good for me” things. So, by simply helping our kids avoid the addicting, bad stuff for a while, you’ll allow their taste buds to adjust and settle into the flavors of even the most avoided vegetables.
It’s quite simple – when we introduce our children to snacks and sugary things (not speaking of fruit) prior to, or as we simultaneously try to introduce them to veggies, the sugary stuff will always win. It’s really a lose-lose situation. Those snacks and the sugar in them are known to be addicting, and are probably even more so for their little inexperienced taste buds. So, help them by not letting them know what they don’t know – avoid the sugars for at least a year (or a year and a half – my personal recommendation).
In The End…
Today, my son is a month shy of two-years old and I do allow him to have some sweets. He loves a mini scoop of ice cream now and again, or a cookie or whatever, but he still goes in on some veggies and healthy foods every day. I truly believe he is the way he is because he was given the opportunity to get used to the taste of the life giving stuff first. Hoping you put this into action and it works wonders for you, sis. If you have any questions whatsoever, shoot them my way!
In All Honesty,