Parents often feel frustrated due to the mealtime battle with the baby due to not accepting the vegetables in food. Instead of healthy vegetables babies always want to have sugary or salty food that is bad for health. But a baby doesn’t hate vegetables for the next whole life. There are so many ways or strategies that can be undertaken to make a baby love the veggies. But before that, we must understand why babies don’t love vegetables and the reasons may be following –
- Some vegetables are bitter in taste and can have a bad smell also makes a baby feel queasy.
- Vegetables are full of fiber that make a baby chew it more than most babies don’t like.
- Vegetables are not rich in calorie that makes a baby feel lazy and tired.
- Some parents themselves don’t eat vegetables that make a bad habit for the baby as well.
Though there are so many reasons for which babies may not like vegetables, it is important for babies to intake vegetables more because –
- Vegetables are full of vitamins.
- Vegetables are a good source of antioxidants and fiber.
- Vegetables contain a good amount of water.
A healthy diet means eating plenty of vegetables, plus a wide variety of foods from the other main food groups. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that children aged:
- 1-2 years should have 2-3 serves of vegetables each day.
- 2-3 years should have 2½ serves of vegetables each day.
- 4-8 years should have 4½ serves of vegetables each day.
So, it’s very important for babies to eat vegetables and there are so many ways to do it.
WAYS TO MAKE BABY LOVE VEGETABLES:
The strategies to make babies love vegetables are mentioned below –
- Make veggies one of his/her first food.
- Seat and eat with your baby.
- Engage all the senses while eating.
- Experiment with new tastes and textures.
- Don’t force them to eat, get your kids involved.
- Use praise when your child eating vegetables.
1. Make veggies one of his/her first food:
The first step is to make vegetables the first food of a baby after he/ she leaves the breast milk. It is best to have vegetables from the 6th month and can have cooked vegetable mix as fast as possible. To make a success in this stage child must have independence for choosing the vegetables on own and to make a habit of intaking vegetable, parents must include some kind of vegetable all day in the meal.
Few things must be noted or keep in mind during this –
- Vegetables must be sweet or mild in flavor including carrot, winter squash, etc.
- Vegetables must have natural baby-friendly textures such as avocado.
- Vegetables must not be an allergen.
So, at the beginning babies must be given a few tablespoons of vegetables once or twice a day so that they get accustomed to the flavor of vegetables and gradually make the habit. And for this, parents must try every day to give vegetables to their babies whether they accept them or not.
2. Sit and eat with your baby:
To make a child love any kind of food especially vegetables, parents must have to sit with them at the table and have to eat food with them. More the baby will see the parents taking vegetables, the babies will start to take vegetables more likely. It will also help babies to take food from their parents’ plate on their wish and that will help babies to love vegetables sooner. Some extra strategies must be there –
- Don’t be panic while feeding babies.
- Make sure to be persistent.
- Sit with baby for food but don’t force them to eat.
- Aim for 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruits daily.
- Don’t give all vegetables at once but give small amounts in every meal.
Sitting and eating together will help babies to have the choice of their food and the habit will come by seeing parents. So, parents must have a good time to teach about proper food and vegetables and can include good family meals such as stir-fries, curries, roasts, and pasta with more veggies and salad. This will help the baby to see and enjoy the meal and also will help to take vegetables faster.
3. Engage all the senses while eating:
The first thing we do with food, or some new recipe is to see it for visual impression, touch it for the texture, and smell and taste it for the flavor. So basically, we engage our all senses whenever we try new food (Touch, Smell, Lick, Bite). So, as a parent, one must introduce this new step at each meal every day to the babies because human biology is set up in such a way that resists having vegetables more likely.
If a child still doesn’t accept the vegetables or food, then some other strategies can be followed –
- Serve food when the baby will be the hungriest and serve vegetables first.
- Let the baby pick vegetables.
Parents can use this method, alternating, to make children used to be foods along with old ones. Besides all these, sweets must be restricted for 0-3 years to make a good habit.
4. Experiment with new tastes and textures:
Sometimes experiment with the taste and texture can help and make it easy. Try to choose different shapes, colors of vegetables each time because more the variety, the more likely child will be interested in eating, and it will not create monotonous to the child. And always try to serve maximum vegetable that the child loves to eat so that the whole attention will be on the food.
These are important because –
- More the variation in food in terms of color, taste, smell, more curious the child will be.
- Always peak the fresh vegetables because the taste matters.
- Try roast vegetables with fresh herbs for great taste and smell that will attract the child, rather than steamed or boiled vegetables.
- Have some fun with the decoration and look of the vegetable while making such as making face, animal, etc. that will make a child eat more vegetable.
If still, some baby doesn’t like to have vegetables, then there are so many ways to serve the veggies including raw, steamed, pureed, roasted, adding more herbs and spices, etc.
These all will help to improve the taste, smell, color of the food and there will be a lot of choices that a baby can make that definitely make them love vegetables of their own because babies often like some particular kind of texture, taste, smell over others.
5. Don’t force them to eat, get your kids involved:
The most important is to maintain a healthy and positive relationship with vegetables and that will come with love. So, it is always to be in mind –
- Never force a baby to eat some particular vegetable. Even if you get angry, don’t shout at baby because it will make them refuse vegetables and eat junk foods.
- Try to give vegetable continuously until they eat by own.
- Forcing will make a child hate vegetables and they will stop eating vegetables.
- Always encourage them for having the vegetables both in childhood and teenage life.
- Give some easy preparation tasks to the child while cooking such as sorting, washing the fruit or vegetable, etc.
These will help to make a good food choice for the babies and will make a healthy relationship with the child and vegetables that will last long.
6. Use praise when your child eating vegetables:
Praising will always motivate everyone to carry forward and in the case of children, it’s more. If a child eats any vegetable or tries to get a new vegetable, then always praise him/ her so that they will eat the vegetable more often. Praising works the best because, by this, children start to love the vegetables. Parents must do few steps including –
- Praising their babies whenever they focus on food and vegetables.
- Provide encouragement to the child for having vegetables.
- Never punish your child for not having vegetables because that will have some negative impact.
- Just try to give vegetables again and again.
These strategies can help to make a child love vegetables, but this development requires time. Remember never to panic while feeding babies vegetables and be relaxed. Make sure to be persistent always. So, always have different choices, serve veggies daily and make different alternatives to make a positive approach for the baby towards vegetables.