Kids that eat a varied diet from the beginning will be much less likely to form picky eating habits down the road. By starting children off with a healthy, varied diet from the first baby food can, children will be more inclined to try new things and appreciate a variety of flavors. Children are naturally attracted to sweeter flavors, but catering to this automatic preference can be a mistake that will limit options later on.
Beginning with Vegetables and Fruits
As soon as children are able to eat solid foods, parents will benefit from introducing fruits and vegetables. Very sweet fruits such as grapes and pears can be mixed with less sweet fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries to keep children from only eating very sweet things. Fresh vegetables like carrots and celery should be served plain at first to see if children will like them, then dips and toppings can be added for flavor if desired. Vegetables should be served at every meal so that children get used to the tastes and have the opportunity to find new likes. Chances are good that children will not always eat their vegetables, but making veggies a regular part of the meal and leading by example by always eating the vegetables will help to set expectations and instill healthy habits.
When meal planning, children are more receptive if they feel like they played a part in the decision making. Parents can help to focus this by offering 2-3 choices, such as “broccoli, green beans, or spinach with dinner?” and “cinnamon apples or grapes and blueberries for a snack?” By asking these questions and staying consistent with only offering healthy options, children will get used to this sort of structure. It is much easier to start out this way from the earliest years than to try to revise children’s eating habits when they are older.