Teach Your Child to Eat (and Like!) Vegetables

Chow on 08.22.11
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Photo:Turtlemom4bacon / Creative Commons

For months, my baby Alex had a nutritious baby spinach surprise smoothie with her dinner each night. I didn't worry so much that she never touched the veggies on her highchair tray, because she was drinking the equivalent of an adult-sized portion of salad in her shake.

Then one day, as kids do, she reversed her eating trend and decided she wanted nothing to do with her nighttime smoothie. This meant a sudden halt in her vegetable consumption, and a sudden start to my worrying. I needed my girl to eat her veggies!

Variety Plus Repetition

I began experimenting with different kinds of vegetables and different preparations. Raw, steamed, puréed -- she was simply not interested. Each time I went to the store, I bought home different veggies, plus replays of the ones she'd tried before and hated, in case she would change her mind.

All vegetables met the same fate -- the gravity test -- as she leaned over the side of her highchair and watched them fall. She clearly enjoyed the satisfying "splat" sound of a vegetable meeting the floor.

However, Dr. Jenn Berman writes in her book Superbaby that babies and toddlers often need to be exposed to a new food 15 times before they will actually eat it. So I kept going, knowing eventually Alex would bite.

Let Your Child See You Eat the Foods You Want Her to Eat

I noticed that Alex loved the same snacks I ate. Before I went on my diet, I would hit that 3PM wall, which caused me to sit down to watch a TV show with a carby and salty snack. Without fail, Alex would trundle over and stand there at the coffee table so she could nosh on a pretzel or cracker with me.

Then one day, tired of the chubby and bloated feeling my 3PM carb-o-load was giving me, I decided to make the switch to vegetables. The first day, I cut up a cucumber and hunkered down in front of a big plate of cuke spears.

Alex immediately grabbed a cucumber and gnawed on it. Then she put that one down, and picked up another to chew on. I think she sampled just about every single cucumber spear on the plate before I got to them.

Of course, I didn't mind. I was just happy she was finally putting vegetables in her mouth rather than throwing them violently to the floor.

Don't Worry Too Much About a Lack of Teeth

The next day, I opened up a bag of snap peas. My trusty sidekick was there to grab a raw snap pea and enjoy the crunching between her gums. She's still working on making some teeth, and without a pearly white to be found, she can still eat just about everything I can. I wouldn't go so far as to give her a raw carrot or a piece of fruit with skin on it. But her gums do serve as effective chompers for a wide variety of veggies.

Now at dinnertime, I know I can count on her to pick up her vegetables and crunch away for a little while before she defaults to the gravity test. It's progress.

Katie Morton is the founder of The Monarch Company. Get a FREE copy of her eBook, 10 Steps to a Blissful You, to get started on developing extraordinary willpower for life.

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