According to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, french fries are the most common vegetable eaten by the age of 15 months. The Nestlé Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) 2008 studied toddlers’ eating habits and discovered almost 1/3 of young children do not eat a single serving of vegetables in a day. This is shocking but not surprising as many parents routinely complain about their child being picky or not consuming their vegetables.
Vegetable introduction in my home does not begin at the table or high chair. It starts on the floor. After a long trip of shopping, I place my fresh produce on the floor and I let my infant play with it. Yes, I put my food on the floor and worse I let my baby play with it.
Parents commonly believe tasting a new food actually means putting the food in the mouth only. I agree it is part of the process. It has to be, right? However, I also believe it involves much more. Children need to experience food through all of their senses (sight, smell, touch and even hearing). Most importantly they need to experience new foods on their own terms.
Think about it in different terms:
Your partner really wants you to meet someone. Not only does he or she want you to like them but love them. However, you learn really fast this person is bitter. They are not sweet to you. To top it off your partner keeps pushing and pushing them on you.
How do you react? You run, I would. Wouldn’t it be easier to meet this person in small doses? Just being in the same room with them might be a better start. This gives the person a chance to slowly grow on you. You can then begin to appreciate their bitter sense of humor and find the sweetness hidden in them.
In the picture, my son was introduced to asparagus. His introduction was on his own terms. I just put the asparagus on the floor and he had the choice to play with it. After about 5 minutes, he did what babies naturally do- he put it in his mouth. In fact, he cried when it was time to take it away from him. Believed it or not- he did actually cry.
How do you introduce vegetables to your children?
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