Suggestions for helping your little one experiment with food.
Yes my child loves chocolates, chips and nuggets. Don't we all? But he does love healthy food too. My 3 year old requests prawns, salmon and avocado when we go shopping. Oh, and if there is baby avocado sushi... he is a happy boy!
Here are 4 tips that helped us to achieve this balance:
1. Let them lead:
This is a technique for introducing solids which is the complete opposite to the traditional mushy foods. Here you basically give them finger food. We started at a little over 5 months old and he was just playing with food such as slices of avocado, half a banana or steamed broccoli.
This technique teaches babies to chew their foods before learning to swallow as humans have a natural high gag reflex when they are born.This meant that he ate what we ate. No special food was made just for him, which typically would have been very plain and basic. He got plenty of variety and spices, and he was in control of his food which made it fun and no pressure. NOTE: a very messy technique!
2. Don't limit their options
He goes through stages of refusing to eat certain food, but one day, out of no where, it will be as if that food aversion never happened. This is because his taste buds change daily (sometime more than once), so I put all of the same food options that we have, onto his plate too (as long as I know there is one thing there he will definitely eat.) He gets distracted and then all the sudden he doesn't even realise he is eating zucchini!
3. Don't make a fuss
It isn't nice for anyone. I don't like sitting there, for who knows how long, waiting for him to have those last 4 bites. Dinner time is something I like to do as a family. I want it to be a happy, pressure free time. If he knows I am just going to hound him at dinner, he will go into dinner time with a negative attitude already. And with the peace of mind that he eats all day long, I know he isn't going to bed hungry!
4. Don't assume
Don't assume they are not going to like certain food. Just like every adult is different, every child is different too. They might like food that you don't like. Let them explore their taste buds too. When I can afford it, I let him pick a few different things from the fruit and veg or deli area. He loves it. He thinks he is a big man doing the groceries and loves to get home to make and eat it.
Children are so different and I don't think this will work for ALL children. However, these are a few things that I have done, that have helped us. Some days he is very picky, but for the most part he loves all of his foods. I hope some of this was useful for someone.
When my daughter started daycare, I spent a lot of time trying to find the right fit for her and our family. I did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions. Over and over again though, the answer to my question would come back the same, "she'll be fine."