I recently read an article in Parents magazine (Nov 2009) called Make Your Baby a Veggie Lover. The article really hit home to me. I am a picky eater and I really think a lot of that has to do with not being able to smell. For me, food is more about texture than anything else. Well this article talked about why toddlers are known for being so picky...they aren't used to the textures of food! Think about it. I feed Kye all this jarred baby food and then one day BAM it's gone and I expect him to eat real food and like it. That's confusing. It also said that the jarred stuff doesn't even taste like the real stuff. How's he supposed to like it then?
The article says that if you give a baby a food repeatedly at this age he will acquire a taste for it more easily now than any other time in his life. Right now his taste buds are setting their food preferences and selecting the messages that each flavor will send to his brain. By the time he's a toddler, however, he'll most likely only being willing to eat foods that he's already come to trust. As toddlers we actually develop an intense fear of new fruits, vegetables and meats that is an instinct to not trust new things as they could be poison (makes sense if you think about it!).
The big thing the article says is to not give up. Most people try a new food once or twice then quit offering it but it actually takes around 10 times of eating a food for a baby to like it. This author says that as soon as you start feeding baby food you can start mashing up real food for the baby to eat so he will get used to the flavor and texture of that new food.
Another aspect of this article that really hit me was about color. Babies love bright colors and foods that are good for you are always pretty! As Kye becomes accustomed to eating different colors it'll be easier to get him to eat a balanced diet when he's older and the brown foods (not good for you foods) will look boring. That statement made me think about my own eating habits. Breakfast: cereal or granola bar (both brown) Lunch: peanut butter crackers (both brown) my only real color is at dinner and even then it's usually corn or green beans! Not very good! Something I need to work on too which is also mentioned in the article that kids will like things that we like. Zach and I both want to start eating healthier so our children will make healthy choices!
I decided to follow this articles advice and start to feed Kye real food. Yes, he's still getting his normal baby food but I feed him these foods too. We've really started watching for cues that he's full and we STOP feeding him. We are all born with a natural ability to know when we've had the perfect amount of food but we lose that instinct because we're told to clean our plates and one more bite our whole lives. This leads us to constantly over-eat and have that nasty stuffed feeling which also leads to obesity. I want Kye to keep that instinct as long as he can so I don't want to force feed him (easier said than done though! I know all moms can relate!).
The author recommends having the baby try a variety of foods before the age of one and I haven't wasted any time! He says that a variety is good and not to worry about trying too many new things at once. I give him a couple pieces of stuff after each meal if he's interested and we try to eat as a family at 5 or 5:30 each night and he eats some then as well.
Before giving him ANY of the foods I first check this website: http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/ It's amazing!!! I got it from the Babywise Blog Lady and I love it! It tells you about each food and when it's okay for them to have it, what benefits the food gives them, and how to cook it! The only thing I've cooked was pumpkin (yes, I cut it from the pumpkins we carved haha! use whatcha got!) but still it's there if you want to know some recipes. The site is a great resource for me as I got some tomatoes from the student center and I was going to let him try them but the site said that the acid can mess up his tummy and to wait until he's a year old so I didn't. It also said that he can have egg yolks but not whites so when we made eggs the other night Zach made ours with just whites (so much better for us!) and scrambled Kye some yolks!
So far it's going AWESOME! I just cut things up pretty small and feed them to him (but I do NOT blend them or make them super smooth) and he's had great reactions to most of it. I still give him Cheerios as finger foods as the texture of the healthy foods makes it hard for him to pick them up. I did notice after reading that article that ALL the finger foods we give him are brown! The Gerber Graduates stuff and Cheerios!
Here are the foods Kye has eaten (I'll be adding to this list until he turns 1 as it's great for me to refer back to to know what I've already given him and to know for baby #2!):
- Peaches: not a fan yet
- Pears: not a fan yet
- Butter Beans: loves them!
- Pumpkin (with some cinnamon and nutmeg): not a fan yet
- Whole Wheat Bagel: liked it okay
- Cheddar Cheese: loves it!
- Melon: loves it!
- Bananas: took several days but now likes them
- Black Eyed Peas: loves them (was my fav as a baby too!)
- Cantlope: loves it!
- Watermelon: FAVORITE food!
- Egg Yolk: still learning to like it
- White Potatoes: loves em!
- Green Beans: loves them!
- Carrots: loves them!
- Purple Grapes: loves them!
- Blueberries: still adjusting
- Pineapple: liked okay, didn't realize I wasn't supposed to feed it to him yet!
- Yogurt: loves it!
- Peas: Loves them!
- Turkey: liked okay
- Pickles: liked okay