Don’t we all dream of a world in which our kids come running to the kitchen for kale and quinoa, and politely say “no thank you” to strangers when offered cookies and ice cream (because those things would never be found in our kitchens….right? at least not in the cupboards the kids can reach…)? Today we’re talking about how to help your child enjoy healthy food – not just tolerate it – but ask for it with a smile 🙂 (<– putting one on your face as well).
As a certified sugar addict I’ve been very committed to raising kids who have better trained buds than I… and that starts young. I’m talking in utero young. Flipping and floundering and sucking back smoothies through their umbilical cords…
Studies like this one have shown that moms train their babies’ palates at large by what they eat while pregnant, nursing and in the early years of solids. The taste of breast milk is fluid (chuckle chuckle) and determined by the mom’s diet. Eat lots of sugar and you’ll be treating your tiny one to human soda, spicy food will give it some kick. Of course these effects are not all-powerful, but the flavor subtleties influence their preferences when it comes time to introduce solids.
How to Help Your Child Enjoy Healthy Food
Posts on optimal first foods will be up in the coming weeks, but for now, some ideas of how to help your little one enjoy things are good for them include:
- Eat whole, nourishing foods while pregnant (not enough for 2! caloric requirements only increase minimally and closer to term)
- Eat whole, nourishing foods, plenty of good fat and increase overall quantity while nursing
- Offer variety upon introduction of solids (new things tend to be more interesting, I generally feed him 4 different things at each meal and only bring out 1 or 2 at a time)
- If baby refuses things like liver sneak it in with some organic, unsweetened applesauce
- Limit or remove sugar from their diet altogether (and watch how they beg for fruit!)
- Set a good example in food choices
- Don’t give up! It takes about 12 separate instances of eating something unpleasant for the palate to begin to enjoy it
- Don’t give in. Once baby becomes a toddler, they can go a few hours without eating, no problemo. If they are refusing the delicious healthy meal you have lovingly prepared, gently remind them that they will have nothing else until it is finished. In our case, it goes back into the fridge and comes out the next time they are hungry. You’ve heard it before, but babies will not starve themselves. Give it some time and they’ll be begging for pureed liver and kale.