It’s a scenario most parents are familiar with. You’ve slaved over a hot stove for hours to serve up a nutritional meal, only to have your children turn around and demand chicken nuggets or a plate of purple foods.
Jessica Beaton, accredited practising dietitian and co-founder of One Handed Cooks, says there is a way to make even the fussiest eaters scoff down their veggies.
LISTEN: Jessica joined the Year One podcast to discuss what should be on the menu for your new baby.
Beaton says the key to winning over your fussy eaters is keeping meal times relaxed and enjoyable and taking the pressure off the situation. She also says you have to start early, getting them used to non-allergenic foods before moving on to more complex flavours.
“Their gut is still maturing,” she explains. “So starting with the really non-allergenic foods means they’re unlikely to cause any reactions, and then you can slowly introduce other foods.”
Beaton says fussy eaters are rarely the result of something parents have done wrong though, it’s simply that trying new foods can be a confronting experience for kids.
“Eating is one of the most difficult sensory tasks our children do,” she explains. “And they take two to three years to actually learn how to eat and chew food.”
“When we eat food we have to take in the colour, the smell, the texture when it hits our mouth, the flavour, and sometimes even the noise it makes in the mouth can be off putting.”
Beaton says from around six months you should start to introduce textures into your baby’s diet, so they get used to processing lumps and bumps. Beaton also suggests introducing finger foods at this age like steamed veggies and lamb cutlets.
“Serving them up some steamed veggies besides the purees will allow them to get used to some of the different textures – they’ll start to understand the look and feel and smell of real broccoli,” she said.
“Lamb cutlets are so tender and kids really love holding onto the bone,” she explained. “And whether they suck or chew, it does wonders for their jaw strength.”
Beaton says parents should avoid feeding their kids sugar, honey, salt, and processed and packaged foods, as much as they possibly can.
“Salt we should keep out of their diets for as long as possible. Their kidneys are still developing and they can’t process salt as well as we can,” she says.
Listen to the full episode of Year One here:
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