In today’s post I bring to you the 9 ways to help your baby love and eat vegetables.
While a lot of toddlers frown at the very sight of vegetables on their plate, my two year old is a startling exception. He would demand to eat veggies before his rice. He would grab vegetables from our plates and put them in his mouth. Sometimes I would have to negotiate with him to not eat “only veggies” for lunch.
9 Ways to help your baby love and eat vegetables:
While I might just be a very lucky parent, I have certainly done things right from the beginning that has made him love his green stuff. Let us see the tips for parents who want their kids to love these healthy stuff hands down.
1. Start early- even before your child is born
Be ready to be surprised.
Your weapon to influence your kid’s eating habits is ready even before she is born. The amniotic fluids around your baby are flavored by the foods you eat. And your baby’s taste buds start developing as early as 21 weeks into your pregnancy.
It’s easy- Love the vegetables yourself. Eat a colorful variety of them. Not only do they nourish your baby well, they influence their palate too. The same holds for breast milk. The taste of your white gold gives your baby a heads up to the foods she will eat in the real world.
2. Make vegetables her first weaning foods
While it is traditional to start your baby on cerelac or nestum as the first food, it is not necessary at all.
You can start by steaming or boiling vegetables like carrot, beans, green peas and sweet potato. You can puree and serve them to your babies. Another advantage of this is that it helps with the constipation that your baby might experience when she first starts solid foods.
3. Do not introduce junk
Some parents and grandparents think they are doing their baby a favor by giving them chocolates or chips as a treat.
Small babies are just as happy to eat bananas or yogurt, as they have never tasted junk foods before. By introducing junk foods early, the healthy foods start tasting bland to them.
Even biscuits are not necessary for babies. Prefer to make home cooked meals like raagi or rice kanji instead of giving commercial foods like cerelac. Avoid adding sugar and salt to their weaning foods.
4. Move on from purees
Just when your babies get ready to eat mashed food (around 8-10 months), begin to make the purees a bit coarser and then move to soft cooked vegetables.
Sit with them while they eat (if they are feeding themselves) to make sure they do not choke. After this stage, do not mix foods for eg: pureed vegetables into rice. Let them learn to relish the soft cooked vegetables as they are.
By one year, they can just eat the vegetables you cook for yourselves. Just make sure to make it soft and not too spicy.
Remember, babies don’t need all teeth to chew. They chew with their gums.
5. Let them pay attention to what they eat
Encourage them to sit at one place and eat. Encourage them to eat by themselves.
Do not use TV or videos to distract them into eating. This will make them not pay attention to what they eat and hence they might never develop love for the healthy foods.
6. Cook vegetables the way babies love them
Learn to cook the vegetables the way your kids love them. Many of us are too busy to spend time cooking vegetables or we do not care to eat vegetables ourselves.
Being a vegetable lover myself, I understand not all vegetables should be cooked the same way. I find the tastiest and healthiest way to cook each unique vegetable and cook them that way. I might also have multiple recipes for cooking one vegetable.
If my son is not fond of a particular vegetable, I try to change to a different recipe and find that he loves that version. I make sure not to cook separate foods for my toddler and us. Instead, I learn to tweak the recipe to suit all of us.
7. Involve them in the process
Feeding them jars of vegetable purees bought from the store is at one end of the spectrum. They are void of nutrition and taste.
Our son does grocery shopping with us. He would identify the vegetables, choose them and put them in my basket (well, that is not my favorite part).
When we come home, he would help me put them in the fridge. He would see me cutting the vegetables. He would help me with picking the pudhina leaves etc. So, when they get cooked and end up in his plate, it’s far more to him than some boring food. It is the culmination of his experience from picking the vegetables to seeing them get cooked. Why would he not be excited to try them?
8. Persist, but do not force
When your kid rejects a food once, do not assume she dislikes it.
Retry it after a week or so. She may get familiar with it and want to try it. While you encourage them to take a bite before rejecting any food, don’t force them to eat.
9. Fill your own plates with veggies:
Insist the vegetables are yummy and devour them like crazy in front of your kids. That works so much better than trying to reason with them that it is healthy.
Hope you liked my article on the ways to help your baby love and eat vegetables. It’s now time to put these ideas to test. You may end up not having to hide their veggies in foods. Your kids might instead be eating them with pride 🙂
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