As a first-time mom, I’m constantly reminded that every new stage has its challenges and just when you think you’re in a groove, you’ll find yourself googling “how-to’s” for the next big change. We’re currently in that “I’m 13-months-old with only two teeth and I want to eat everything in sight” phase with Benji. But, with only two teeth, he still rely’s heavily on pureed baby foods for most of his meals, which leaves me with pureed peas, corn, green beans… nothing I’d be too excited to eat. So I’ve had to get creative.
Here are some ways we’re getting more veggies in Benji’s diet…
Start With What You Like
“Whatever you find to be most comfortable, chances are it’s the same for your baby.” I remember reading this in our sleep training book when Benji was 3 months old. Granted, it was referring to sleeping environments, but I’ve found this to be true for many other things as well, including foods. Maybe it’s because they study our every move when they first become interested in food. Either way, if your toddler is seeing you eat it, he/she is likely to be curious enough to try it, and could grow to favor that food or vegetable.
Choose Complimentary Foods
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say most vegetables have a bad rap because they’re typically consumed amongst other sweeter or more flavorful foods, so they appear to taste worse than they actually are. Whether that’s true or not, you’d agree if you’ve ever tried to eat broccoli after a piece of chocolate. No bueno. When paired with complimentary foods, even the most bland vegetables can taste delicious. Look for ways to be more creative with the foods you pair with your child’s veggies to enhance their natural flavors. Also, omit sugary juices and provide water or milk with their meal.
Distract, Distract, Distract
It’s becoming a reflex for us, but the power of distraction is something that even adults use sometimes as a form of discipline. Trying to follow a specific eating routine? Distract yourself when you have a craving and soon the craving will pass. The same goes for our evolving picky eaters. Sometimes they just need to be distracted (sing a song, pull out a music toy, play peek-a-boo) from what they think they know about veggies and then they’ll eat them, almost unknowingly.
Similarly to the first tip—start with what you like—I try to remind myself that even I have trouble “getting enough veggies in my diet.” My favorite solution to that is juicing. It’s a more efficient way to get a wider variety of vegetables and fruits in your diet. Most juice recipes call for apples as a base, which helps with flavor. I tend to give Benji the juices that I like most and he’s loved them so far, which makes me excited to have a juicing buddy. When I don’t have time to juice veggies myself, I pick up Suja Juice or Naked (make sure they’re cold pressed) drinks. Suja’s “Green Delight” is my favorite!
Just like any new transition, it’s important to consistently offer different vegetables until your toddler develops more of a palate for them. When I started weaning last month and transitioning to whole milk, Benji wouldn’t take more than a few sips before he was just done with it. I thought he’d never come around, but he did. And that was just milk for Heaven’s sake!
Most importantly, it’s helpful to have a variety of tactics to try (sometimes one after the other) so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up. It won’t always work the same way every time, but that only keeps life interesting, right? If nothing else, use the challenge as an opportunity to get more veggies in your own diet and see how your curious little one responds. They just may start asking you for more veggies.
Am I missing anything?
What other tactics do you rely on to get more veggies in your kids’ diets?
Photos by The High Pines.