Since my first lovie was born I have been fairly obsessed with giving them the best nutritional start I can. I really want them to grow up with a love for healthy and diverse food. I know at times I can seem a little “over the top” to some parents. It seems a little funny to me that I am sometimes made to feel like a militant weirdo by other parents for trying to avoid chemicals and garbage going into my babies tiny bodies. Ahh what are you going to do?
I am by no means an expert on how to feed your kids perfectly. I also believe there needs to be a balance of having some fun now and then. I draw the line at candy, soda and blatant trash food especially since my babies are just 2 and 4 right now. I know they will eventually be exposed to these things out in the world but I really believe that if they have a secure love of delicious healthy food they will be less likely to overdo it with junk. *fingers crossed*
I am here to share a little of what I have learned in my journey in the past 4 years in hopes that it may be helpful to other parents or caregivers of wee lovies. I know every little one is different but you may find some tricks here that may make your little one surprise you.
First off I think the key is to start trying to shape their palates early. I don’t want them to be a stranger to diverse flavors. I started as soon as they were ready to eat solid foods. I used to add cinnamon or Chai Spice into their baby cereal. I also added a touch of low sodium soy sauce to whole wheat lo mein for example.
I am not a huge fan of “tricking” kids into eating healthy but a little “incorporation” of good for you ingredients never hurt anyone. Who is going to complain if you give them a brownie with undetectable zucchini shreds in it? No one that’s who.
“Tricks” that have worked for me
1. I got them eating brown rice from the beginning. They do have regular rice from time to time but they are totally comfortable with the brown version. If you are pressed for time or the texture is too severe for your little one try the parboiled version in the bag.
2. Quinoa is a magic and wonderfully healthy grain. If you can get them to eat it early please try. If not I have had success with mixing the cooked Quinoa in with the rice for the babies. It is also easy to slip into Oatmeal, Pancakes or even a Smoothie.
3. There are a million ways to add extra veggies into food your baby already loves. Try making broccoli pesto and using it with your tomato sauce in in pizza or pasta. Puree spinach and add into muffins. Make mashed potatoes with some pureed cauliflower in it. You can easily make veggie purees mixed with fruit to stir into yogurt (example Pumpkin or Sweet Potato and Banana).
4. Smoothies were the first way I found to add a lot of healthy foods into the little ones diets. I started off just playing around with different combinations. I keep frozen fruit in the freezer at all times for smoothies. I try to catch the summer “steals” on seasonal fruit to have them in colder months. Some of the best additions I have tried are Kale, Silk Tofu, Spinach, Flax Meal, Roasted Beets, Wheat germ, Oatmeal and Pumpkin. When using stronger vegetables such as Beets, Bananas and Blueberries are incredible for masking the intense flavor. Greek Yogurt and Nut butters as well as Soy, Almond or Coconut Milk are favorites of mine (I usually use vanilla flavored). This may sound like okay sure lady but I can attest to my babies both crying for seconds on smoothies.
5. Hummus is a tasty and wonderful food to get your little ones hooked on early. Babies love “dip” and it can also make a great sandwich spread as well.
6. I always try not to pass on my own food hang ups on down to my babies. For example I always hated Cottage cheese and still do, except in pancakes, yes it makes it a delicious and edible offering! I made mine with Cottage Cheese with peaches and added blueberries and it was really amazing how good it was.
So there you have it. I hope these ideas are helpful in getting your little lovies to enjoy getting the nutrition they need and hopefully making it fun for them and less stressful for you. It may also take a lot of tries to get them to go for a new flavor, be patient and persistent.