Don’t get me wrong – I’m absolutely thrilled she does. However, we did not get there overnight. These are some of the little (or rather BIG) things we have done along the way to get to where we are today.
- Once she was ready to give up breast milk, her very first taste of solid food came in the form of vegetable purees. Way back then, we had started with the sweet potato puree. Root vegetables have an inherent, subtle-sweet taste and hence they are the perfect food for babies. This was followed by purees made out of carrot, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin, parsnip or a combination of these such as the pumpkin & carrot, cauliflower & potato etc. I was conscious about not giving her anything overtly sweet at the start because let’s face it – nothing beats the taste of sweet stuff. On another note, I had purchased the baby blender by Avent which was the perfect size for blending these purees.
- As a family, we have always been very vegetable-oriented. We love our meat, fish and poultry but make it a point to combine these proteins with a side of veggies. And by that, I don’t mean fried or baked potatoes only but more on the lines of beans, carrots, bell peppers, asparagus, green leaves, broccoli, cabbage, peas, corn, sugar snaps and radish. It’s very simple really – if you want your child to eat his/her veggies, you better start eating them yourself.
- My supermarket visits have mostly been with the little one in tow. Not having a nanny has actually helped in this respect cause it means that I am forced to take her along. We’ve had our share of the classic ‘supermarket tantrums’ but it has come with its own set of advantages. For example, she can identify most vegetables by now, she picks her own fruits and veggies every once in a while and is generally a huge help in getting stuff weighed.
- In our household, there’s a little rule we follow which goes like this: Taste & Reject. So each time I introduce a new vegetable to my girl (or the husband, for that matter), they have to necessarily taste it before they reject it. I’ve heard a million parents complain that getting kids to taste new stuff has been their biggest hurdle. I must admit though that we’ve only had a 50-50 success with this approach. At the same time, I’m glad they don’t have a mind-block against food.
- Kids being kids love colorful and quirky stuff. While this generally requires some inventiveness on the part of the parents, it generally comes with positive results. Some of the things I do to make her meals attractive include cutting veggies into various shapes and sizes, arranging food items of different colors on a plate, camouflaging veggies in other more-appealing food items and using attractive cutlery.
- At one time or another in primary school, children are taught to distinguish between healthy and junk food. Always, always be on the look-out for opportunities like these. This is the perfect time to re-enforce the exact same lessons at home as well. When there is consistency in teaching across platforms, children are bound to learn faster and more effectively.
- Quite like my daughter, most children are overwhelmed by attention. Hence, the next time you want them to try something new (in terms of a vegetable), don’t make a big deal of it. You might spend half a day organizing a meal which they (more often than not) are bound to reject in less than 2 seconds! Don’t treat this as a personal failure and keep at it. Once you have offered the new food item a couple of times over, the novelty will wear off and they might get tempted to start eating it after all.
Is your kid an ‘easy’ vegetable-eater or do you struggle to get greens down their throat? In one way or another, I would love to hear from you.