I think every parent would like to know what makes a child a good eater. Is it part of the disposition they’re born with? Does it have to do with what Mom eats while pregnant? Is it the foods they’re fed when their young?
Ellie is a good eater. I’m aware that we are lucky, because I do think that she was born with a tendency to be open to different foods (she’s pretty fearless in general). However, I would love to take a tiny bit of credit for at least maintaining and encouraging her healthy eating!
Can healthy habits be started early? I think so. At least in our experience they were. When it was time to feed Ellie solids around 5 1/2 months, we started with vegetables – and ONLY green vegetables. I figured, why introduce her to yummier, sweeter veggies and fruits when she doesn’t know they exist and she’s happy enough just to be eating? Let her develop a palette and affinity for these healthy foods first and maybe that will encourage her to eat well later in childhood and life? I actually didn’t introduce fruit for a good month and a half.
Since then, it’s remained really important to me that Ellie get green vegetables in one or two meals a day – which can be hard! There aren’t a ton of green vegetables that most toddlers like. And they all require some kind of preparation, so I usually make enough for 3 or 4 servings.
The vegetables we serve most often (in order) are:
– Avocado (this almost doesn’t count because she’s obsessed with it and eats it as part of pretty much every meal. It’s more like dessert than anything else).
– Peas (frozen)
– Spinach (blended, see more below)
– Zucchini (pasta)
– Asparagus and Cucumber (hit or miss)
Note: All vegetables we serve her and eat are organic 🙂
Here is a list of some of our go-to “tricks” for encouraging good vegetable eating:
– Serve them consistently (vegetables are not going away)
– Make it fun (the good ol’ airplane routine, letting her eat with her own utensil, or a silly game. For example, Ellie thinks it’s hilarious that she eats the top of the broccoli floret and Mama eats the trunk).
– Make them into a pasta or other fun shapes (we use a spiralizer at least once a week for zucchini pasta)
– Put them in smoothies (we blend various greens with banana, almond milk and almond butter)
– Drink your greens in juices (we don’t have an official juicer but Ellie LOVES her Suja)
– Hide them in pasta sauces (I even blend a ton of spinach in her mac & cheese sauce, which is already a special treat)
– Make them into soups (Ellie is obsessed with soup, and eating it with a spoon. Warning: bibs and towels required)
– Include the child in the preparation process (she gets way more excited to eat – or try – something when she’s been a part of putting it together)
– Eat vegetables in front of them (Ellie usually wants to eat whatever we’re eating so if we’re eating vegetables….)
– Serve with hummus or sauce (who doesn’t love a good dip or sauce for their veggies? Ellie does.)
– Don’t threaten (if we push, we push her away. So we keep it light)
– Stay away from super processed or sugary foods (as much as possible)
– Have premade / bought pouches on hand (I am so NOT above buying the organic pouches, I just make sure to buy the ones with two vegetables listed, green vegetables preferred!)
I pinned some kid-friendly recipes here and will keep adding to the board.
We use the guidelines above not just with vegetables but with other healthy foods that might she may be hesitant to eat. Again, we’re fortunate that she’s pretty good about trying new things (sometimes they get spit right back out!) and she has a pretty eclectic palette, especially for her young age.
I’m not sure how to cultivate an adventurous eater, I only want to encourage Ellie to remain this way. I sure as hell know I wasn’t eating crawfish or drinking unsweetened roobios tea at 21 months!
Please share your tricks for getting your kiddos to eat healthy foods!