So, your baby is showing all the signs that he or she is ready for the next step of eating… beyond breast milk and/or formula. And of course, you want to encourage their exploration with food and make sure they try a variety of foods and don’t become picky eaters.
We are very fortunate to have some good ones… eaters that is. I know that part of it is a bit of luck, but part of it is helping them discover new foods and flavors and also keeping them discovering. You want your kiddos to like “the green stuff.” Our girls will actually ask for salads some days. And some days, they say “no thank you” and that’s okay, because I know the next day, they will want it again.
Yes, they are just like us, those tiny humans.
Just like us, they need variety, but they can also be picky. It’s easy to give up when they don’t like something, but it’s just as crucial not to. Babies need a variety of nutrients in their first year, but there are six key nutrients you should absolutely make sure your baby is fed: protein, omega 3s, calcium, iron, fiber and vitamins A, C, D, E and K, so you have to keep trying.
So, what did we do to get our little girls to have a wide variety of accepted foods?
Start with the vegetables.
We started with the mild tastes, whether homemade or store-bought, like Beech-Nut Organics™ just sweet potato, and just sugar snap peas. I think sweet potatoes were all of my girls first foods. These didn’t scream “vegetable” in their mouths, but also weren’t as sweet as some of the fruits. We then worked up to stronger flavors like spinach, broccoli and green beans.
Lead by example.
Let them see you eating vegetables and proteins. Eat well-rounded meals in front of your kids so they see that you enjoy them, too. Expose them to those wonderfully colored foods early and often. And, when they try to grab them off your plate, let them.
Try. And then try again.
They might not like something the first time. Or the third time. Or the ninth time. In fact, 10-15 is the magic number of tries before your little one may accept a new food. Some times babies need to warm up to new flavors. Honestly, there are still foods that I don’t care for that I try every so often to see if I’ve acquired a taste for them. I used to dislike bell peppers, mushrooms and avocado. Now I can’t get enough. Pro tip: To avoid food waste, pour a small amount into a bowl for tasting, and freeze the rest in ice-cube trays for later use.
Let them feed themselves.
Yes, it’s messy. And time consuming. But, for some reason, when those tiny humans have control over what they are eating and putting in their mouths, they might surprise you.
When all else fails, sneak some of those “super-good-for-you, but maybe-not-their-favorite” foods into other foods like smoothies or spaghetti sauce. Or even load the spoon with a veggie, and then put a bit of something they like on the front (I’m looking at you, pears and apples!) Your little one will still experience the flavor, taste and nutrients, but the taste won’t be as overwhelming.
Explore less traditional options.
Sometimes chicken won’t do for protein, so try beans, quinoa, eggs, yogurt, nut butters or fish. There are a lot of options, so don’t be afraid to try new things.
I remember my mom used to boil Brussels sprouts. Yuck! But now, I love them. It’s because I roast them and it brings out the flavor and even some sweetness. It’s a total game changer. When I roast them, my girls will devour asparagus, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Try it a different way and you might be surprised.
Beech-Nut for Infant Nutrition
Beech-Nut is dedicated to infant nutrition and offers blends with all these nutrients, but we realize they may not be appealing to baby right away. Here’s a hint, if baby doesn’t like it, you have to try, try and try again. Many parents don’t know there’s still hope if baby doesn’t like carrots right away, and they need some tips to get there.
If you want more information or tips and tricks, check out the new Beech-Nut blog where you can access Beech-Nut’s Guide to What Baby Eats Now.
Share your own tips for incorporating veggies and protein into your baby’s diet with the hashtag #BabysFirstFoods.