This Friday will make our Little One’s first birthday, so this past Sunday when we ate lunch out with family the grandparents wanted to order her a piece of cake. Lilly had just eaten a nice lunch of fruit, sweet potato fries and milk, so a bite of cake would have been a sweet ending to a great meal. However, when my husband put the bite of cake in front of her mouth, she refused it. When he tried again, she opened her mouth, tasted the cake, and spit it back out in disgust. I was so pleased; best Mother’s Day present ever. 😀
We try our best as parents to feed Lilly healthy and nutritious food, and I believe that what a child eats for the first few years of life shapes their future palate. Kids are especially known to be picky eaters, and with the barrage of unhealthy food in today’s culture, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet within the home. But it can be done!
Now, I’m not saying we’re vegan, Paleo, Keto – nor do we denounce those diets. We’re the fruits-and-vegetables instead of chips-and-cookies kind of family. When I was reading about baby-led weaning a few months ago, I was surprised to find that it takes at least ten tastes of a food for a child to decide whether they like it or not. This also helps me as an adult not to discount a new dish after a bite or two.
At the first taste, Lilly hated carrot baby food, but after several months of combining carrots with other fruit baby foods, she will now eat carrot baby food at a 50/50 ratio. Now that she is progressing to more solid food, she will take several bites of cooked carrots of her own volition! We’re not fully there yet with carrots but we’ve come a long way. 🙂
Another thing to remember when introducing foods to your baby is that sometimes a change in texture will make a huge difference. Lilly hated chicken baby food from the get-go (I don’t blame her), but she will now eat baked chicken and chicken nuggets from time to time. She has always moderately disliked the green beans baby food, but once I start her on canned green beans she won’t stop! It appears that with certain foods the texture, not the taste, was not to her liking.
These are some of the foods that Lilly eats with glee on frequent occasion:
Pineapple Blueberries Cheese
Pears Blackberries Almond Milk
Watermelon Sweet Potato Rice Cakes
Grapes White Potato Bread
Strawberries Mushrooms Cheerios
Oranges/Clementines Corn Smoothies
Banana Green Beans Smoked Sausage
Cantaloupe Peas Ground Sausage
Peaches Peanut Butter Chick-fil-a sauce (her guilty pleasure)
Mango Beans (black, kidney, pinto)
Then there are the foods she will eat from time to time but we’re still working on:
Avocado Carrots Chicken
Cucumber Kiwi Eggs
Broccoli Ground Beef Rice
Lilly has never tasted some of the popular but less healthy snacks for kids, such as juice, goldfish, animal crackers, teddy grahams, cookies, candy, flavored yogurt, or anything else with added sugar – and she’s completely happy! she loves her fruit and rice cakes for snacks, and always wants to eat what mommy and daddy are eating at mealtime.
So, how did we achieve this, especially with a one-year-old who doesn’t have any teeth yet? Here are some tips that may help you train your child’s palate:
Be patient, but persistent
Like I stated earlier, it may take up to ten tastes before your child decides whether they like a certain food or not. I would advise not giving that food to them ten consecutive days in a row, otherwise they may get frustrated at mealtimes. So introducing a new food could take up to a month or longer. Be patient, but also persistent. Even if your child doesn’t like the food on the fifth taste, keep going. Don’t force your child to eat anything he doesn’t want, but don’t assume he won’t like something after the first try. Also, don’t assume that since you don’t like something your child won’t either – I was astonished to find Lilly loved mushrooms as I am disgusted by them!
Experiment with Flavors and Textures
Combining fruits and vegetables is a genius idea. Really, I think combining fruit with anything that you want to make a bit sweeter is a good plan. We combined plain yogurt with fruit baby food and Lilly ate that right up.
Adding seasonings is also a way to make food more tasty for your baby, just don’t make it too salty. Lilly likes herbs on chicken and rice, and taco seasoning on ground beef.
Create Healthy Alternatives
- Freeze fruit for a cooling snack – also helps with teething!
- Banana ice cream – blend almond milk, frozen bananas, and cocoa powder!
- Juice with water – my husband and I used to drink those Naked smoothies and then fill up the empty bottle with water and give that to Lilly. It was our version of nutritious flavored water. 🙂
- Here are some of my favorite healthy snacks for babies:
Your child can eat healthy foods and like them! Now, I don’t want to knock those parents that give their child an Oreo on occasion, but every little bit counts. And their diet for the first several years can shape their food preferences for life! (see more here). I think as parents we can get caught up on having our children taste everything when they are very little just to see what they think of it, but why would we not want to control what they eat when we can and when it’s most important? If you train your child to eat and like healthy foods when he is young, he will make better decisions regarding his diet and behavior towards food when he is older. To fruits and veggies!