Posts Tagged ‘baby food’

Getting Your Toddler to Try New Foods

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Getting your toddler to try new foodsWe all want our kids to love fruit, veggies, and other healthy foods. Each child is predisposed to liking different foods, and most kids go through picky phases where they assert their independence through rejecting the food you give them. So what can you do to help encourage healthy eating habits in the long run?

A new study done with schoolchildren in Australia indicated that no amount of “education” or telling kids that something is good for them really has any impact on what foods they eat. What did have an impact, however, was when they allowed children to try a variety of foods and talk about how they tasted, what they liked, and what they didn’t like.

Presentation matters, too. A Cornell study found that while adults preferred three groups of food and three colors on their plates, children preferred six colors and seven groups.

Another important factor is what the parents eat. Every mom can tell you that almost without fail, every child’s favorite food is whatever you are eating right now. If you’re not eating fruits and veggies, they won’t either.

Here are a few things you can do to help encourage healthy eating:

  • Take your toddler grocery shopping with you. Talk to them about the different food and let them pick out something that is “their” special snack. Try a new fruit or veggie each time you go and let them try it as soon as you get home.
  • Let your toddler help you cook. I know, toddlers, cooking? Disaster! There are ways to do this that won’t make you want to pull out your hair. You can premeasure or precut the portion that your toddler is helping with, and let them dump or throw the item in the pot or dish. Allow them to sample safe ingredients, like veggies, if possible. At dinnertime, gush over how your child “made dinner.” They will be so proud, and also more likely to eat what they helped make.
  • Bring home new things to try. Bring home a new fruit or veggie from the grocery store each week for your child to try. If your toddler is older, talk to them about how the new food tastes, feels, and what they like or don’t like about it. Talk about the different things you can make with it. One time my oldest saw a whole coconut at the store and asked if we could buy it. Of course, I almost automatically said no. But we bought it, looked up how to get it open, tasted the coconut milk, and found a recipe to use it in. It was a fun learning experience for us both. Put the emphasis on trying new foods and not just liking or eating it all.
  • Have healthy foods available for snacking. It really kills me when my 4-year-old grabs an apple out the bowl, takes five bites, and leaves it. But at least she’s eating apples. Keep healthy food around when your kids ask for snacks. It will help curb snacking and also help them learn about seasonal foods as the snacks change from season to season.

One thing I discovered worked in our house was when I put a new veggie only on the adult plates and not on my daughter’s when we ate dinner together. I initially did this because of the pediatrician’s recommendation that we introduce new foods slowly to watch for reactions. My daughter immediately noticed the new food and wanted a bite. I marveled at this happy accident that had led my tiny child to beg for bites of broccoli, spinach, zucchini, squash, green beans, and every other veggie I could make. She wanted anything that I had on my plate that she didn’t. It worked with all three kids, although my middle child has become pickier now, and I can’t really explain why.

No one strategy—eating healthy while pregnant, making your own baby food—will guarantee any kid is a healthy eater. But all these little things together can help encourage a lifetime of healthy eating by getting your child off to a strong start.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City. 

Starting Finger Foods

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Starting Finger FoodsAt around eight or nine months your baby might start letting you know that they’d like to feed themselves. The first signs may be trying to grab the spoon away from you or trying to grab food off your plate. Although it can be very messy, independent eating is an important step for developing fine motor skills and independence, and they have a ton of fun!

When you first start allowing your baby to feed his or herself, remember that since they’re still learning it will be more for fun than calories. You can either begin with finger foods scattered on a plate or high chair or with larger chunks of food for them to gum on as is done in baby led weaning.

If you’d like to start with finger foods they can be a great complement to pureed foods.  Start with foods that are soft and don’t require a lot of teeth to eat. Make sure vegetables are well cooked and fruits are soft enough to be broken down by the gums.  If you find that the foods are too slippery, you can sprinkle them with a little bit of ground flax seed – it makes the food easier to grip and pick up. Everything should be cut into very small pieces so that it doesn’t become a choking hazard. Start with just a few pieces at a time so they don’t feel overwhelmed and add more to their plate as they continue to eat.

Baby led weaning is a little different from just beginning finger foods. Instead of using finger foods as a complement to pureed food, baby-led weaning is a process of introducing foods that are not pureed and instead starting them on solid food. Instead of giving your baby a puree of broccoli and pork chop you would give them a sufficiently cooked broccoli stem and a chunk of pork chop for them to hold and gnaw on. The larger pieces are easy to hold in their fists and it’s usually recommended to cut foods into baton shapes to help grip.

You can use the same foods to start with for either approach. The only difference will be how the foods are cut. Some great foods are:  soft fruits such as banana, avocado, pear, plum, peach, squashed blueberries, kiwi, cut-up grapes, seedless watermelon or roasted apples. Good protein choices include hard-boiled egg yolks, chicken, ground beef. Soft, cooked veggies such as carrots, zucchini, peas, sweet potato, broccoli, green beans, butternut or acorn squash are all easy to gnaw on.

Whichever method you choose, always exercise caution. Never leave a baby alone when they’re eating and always follow your baby’s hunger cues. Proponents of baby led weaning believe that this method helps them eat the proper amount of food without overfeeding, and that they will easily learn what their bodies need to nourish them.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.

Baby’s First Foods

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Introducing solid foods is a big step for new moms and can be quite confusing. Here are some common questions new moms may have about introducing solids.

Is my baby ready for solid foods?

first food

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for baby during the first six months of life. Below are a few milestones your baby should reach before starting solid food:

  • Baby can sit in high chair with good head control
  • Baby watches you eat, reaches for your food and seems eager to be fed
  • If you offer a spoon of food and baby pushes it out of its mouth; he may not have the ability to move it to the back of his mouth to swallow. If this happens- try to dilute food with breast milk or water or wait a week or two and try again.

Sounds like my baby is ready. What should I feed them first?

Traditionally single-grain cereals are introduced first; however there is no medical evidence that introducing solid foods in any particular order is advantageous for baby. This website has tons of great recipes, nutrition information and pointers on how to prepare homemade baby food.

Are there any foods I should avoid?

What to Expect has a great list of food to avoid. This includes nuts, egg whites, honey, cow’s milk, wheat, juice, shellfish, strawberries and chocolate. These foods can be introduced later, please check with your pediatrician for when these can be safely introduced.

What were your babies’ first foods?

With my first we attempted organic brown rice cereal right at six months. This did not go well; she hated it. We went back to breast milk for few weeks and tried sweet potatoes next time she had solids. Our second was 7.5 months before we gave him solid food and he started with homemade sweet potatoes.

How do you make sweet potatoes for your baby?

Preheat oven to 400* F. Wash and poke holes in sweet potatoes and wrap in foil; bake in oven until soft (30-60 minutes). Puree in blender mixed with water or breast milk for desired consistency. Drop spoonfuls onto cookie sheet to freeze. Once frozen put into Ziploc bags to store in freezer until ready to eat. Thaw and serve.

What was your baby’s first food? What would you do differently with your next child?

Kristen Beggs is a mom of two who enjoyed watching her babies take their first bite. 


Why Bone Broth is a Baby Superfood

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Why Bone Broth is a Baby SuperfoodI know bone broth sounds like a strange choice for feeding your baby, but it’s actually one of the most nutritious foods there is. It is not at all the same as store-bought chicken broth, which is usually watery and not nearly as nutrient dense.

Bone broth is also wonderful for digestion, helps strengthen the digestive tract– helping it prepare for more foods–and can even help reduce the likelihood of food allergies. It’s generally considered safe to introduce bone broth at around 3-4 months of age and is especially great to give your baby during the winter months, since it can help boost the immune system.

As the bones cook, the minerals and nutrients leach from the bones and into the water making is a very nutrient dense food. Homemade broth is full of minerals, gelatin and glycosaminoglycans, which help in the development of healthy bones, hair, nails and joints. So much nutrition is drawn out of the bones that by the end of cooking, the bones typically fall apart when touched.

Making the broth is simple: all you need are some chicken or beef bones and water.

Here’s a simple recipe I use to make it using a slow cooker. It’s easy to make a large amount of broth and then freeze whatever you wont need in the next few days. Using an ice cube tray will help you freeze individual portions you can use for baby. Freezing flat in a Ziploc bag allows you to freeze larger portions you can use for make soup. There are several different ways to add this important food to your baby’s diet. You can simply offer it on a spoon, cup or use it to cut homemade baby food such as pureed meats or vegetables.

Your baby isn’t the only one who can benefit from bone broth. The high gelatin and collagen content can make your hair and nails grow stronger. Its important nutrients are wonderful for nourishing the adrenal glands, making it a healing food for postpartum moms as well.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.