In the early days of researching how and when to start solids with my babies, I made the decision to start with vegetables instead of fruit. After rice cereal, the first food I brought to their lips was broccoli. I wanted to ensure they developed a taste for greens, as I know these are very important nutrients, and can be harder to introduce down the road.
To my surprise, my daughter ate up her broccoli without hesitation. My son on the other hand was not as willing. So I mixed his broccoli with a little pear purée and watched him gobble it up! That's when I learned the power of blending.
Eight years later, both of my kids' favourite side dish is plain steamed broccoli. It makes me happy and relieved to know my kids are getting nutrition without me having to sneak it into other foods. My tips below were learned through my own trials and tribulations, as well as through building Baby Gourmet, and are designed to make life easier for anyone trying to raise a non-picky eater.
- Variety: Don't take the easy way out by feeding your baby the same food over and over again because she likes it. Try introducing one new flavour a week. Then depending on her reaction, blend the flavour with current favourites. Offering variety prepares her for a balanced diet down the road.
- Flavour blending: Like my broccoli example above, blending both tastes and textures is a great way to introduce new solid foods. Our top selling product for Baby Gourmet is the Juicy Pear & Garden Greens (link to product page) combo because it is a wonderful medley between healthy greens (spinach and broccoli), which can be tough to introduce on their own, and sweet pear, which babies love. Try combining a food baby typically refuses with a food they love to eat, then gradually reduce the favoured flavour for more balance.
- Spice it up! I love culturally diverse foods and encourage adding subtle amounts of seasonings such as garlic, ginger, oregano, cinnamon and nutmeg to meals. Offering a variety of tastes and seasonings as your baby is starting solids can help their palates diversify, reducing picky eating down the road. Just avoid unneeded and unhealthy added sugars, salt, colourings and preservatives.
- Don't force food: If your baby is growing and is healthy then you can relax from time to time and let them tell you when they are finished eating. I'm not a fan of the old-school thought of finishing every last morsel on the plate. Instead seeing how much my children typically eat allows me to better gauge portion size and waste less food.
- Eat with your baby: It's always a good idea to start family meal times as soon as possible. When your baby is starting solids, they can eat breakfast with you! As they progress through the journey of setting regular feeding times, coordinate to develop the same eating pattern as the adults in the family. Sitting and eating with your child takes all of the pressure off of them to eat (as you are eating your own food, not concentrating solely on baby eating his). Eating healthy, balanced meals with your baby also creates positive role modeling, which will pay off for years to come.