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Mealtime can be such a battle with kids sometimes. Before having kids, I never imagined that trying to feed a toddler could be frustrating to the point of tears… But I am not going to lie, there have been those moments. My sweet little almost four year old has made mealtime difficult from the beginning. From refusing to try new foods, to throwing food on the floor and completely declining to eat anything at all, lets just say she keeps things interesting.
When she was really little I fed her a small variety of foods, including cereal mixed with Gerber® Pure® Water. Spinach, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, strawberries and applesauce were the bulk of her diet. She slowly narrowed things down to where applesauce and crackers was all she wanted to eat ever. To this day applesauce is her staple. She has broadened her horizons to try pasta, chicken and lots of different fruits. But she is still quite picky, and it is always hit or miss if she will try different things.
With Zander I knew I had to do something differently to make sure that, if possible, I didn’t raise such a picky eater again. One of my good friends has a toddler who is one of the least picky eaters I know, and she gave me some advice that has been amazing so far with Zander. He will try anything I put in front of him and his palette at ten months is already broader than Zoey’s at four! So today I thought I would share that advice with all of you. Hopefully it will help a few other mama’s out there avoid raising picky eaters.
My Tips to Avoid Raising Picky Eaters
The basic idea is that you introduce as many foods to your baby as possible, as young as possible (consulting with your pediatrician, of course, on what foods are appropriate at what stage). Babies can typically start eating solids around 4-6 months. With Zander I have been introducing as many foods as I can each month. It sounds like a lot of work, but with the advice from my friend Olya, it is actually quite simple.
1. Include babies in family mealtime as young as possible.
As soon as Zander could sit up in a highchair at mealtimes we brought him to the table with us at dinner. I would let him taste whatever foods we were having at dinner that were safe for his age. I give him little things like black beans from the salad, little pieces of bread and mashed cooked veggies.
2. Coordinate baby and family mealtimes.
Baby’s are usually not open to trying new foods when they are full, so try and coordinate their hungry tummy with your family mealtime. When babies are hungry they are much more likely to try new foods.
3. Adjust the family’s dinner to your baby’s needs.
It can actually be quite easy to adjust your food to your baby’s needs. Try mashing up cooked veggies, beans or fruit. Use water to dip little pieces of bread or mix with thicker mashed potatoes or soups with. I use Gerber® Pure® Water since it is specially purified for babies. Cut up meat and pieces of pasta into tiny pieces.
4. Don’t give up after one bite.
Zander usually makes a funny face when he tries a flavor for the first time. After 3 or 4 bites he gets used to it. Don’t give up right away. If your baby is really opposed to a certain flavor, don’t push it. At least for my kids, trying to force something makes them even more stubborn. Try to introduce it again another day.
5. Don’t be afraid to try different spices.
I was scared to try spices with Zoey, unsure of which ones were safe for babies and which ones weren’t. It turns out that most aromatic spices are perfectly safe for your baby. Flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, turmeric, ginger, coriander, dill and cumin are all great flavors to introduce to your baby. In these pictures I am feeding Zander sweet potatoes mixed with a little formula, Gerber® Pure® Water, cinnamon and nutmeg! It is creamy, delicious and healthy. Not to mention it gets him in on the festive pumpkin pie flavors of fall.
After all the struggles I have had with Zoey and food, I knew I had to do something different with Zander. So far I am really optimistic that he is going to be less picky than she is! He already loves so many foods that Zoey still won’t try. This is such a huge win for me as a mom, having struggled so much with mealtime in the past.
Do you have picky eaters? What has worked for you to get your toddler to try new foods?
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