Our Top 10 Tips to Prevent Picky Eating
Terrified your little one will become a picky eater?
You’re not alone.
We’re here to reassure you that you can raise an adventurous eater by introducing a variety of foods early and often. We’re proud founding members of Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) “Shaping Early Palates” initiative and the “Veggies Early & Often” campaign.
Why is palate development in infancy so important?
Early childhood is a critical period for the development of taste preferences and healthy dietary habits. In fact, research shows that 4-7 months is when babies are most susceptible to liking new flavors and foods. But don’t worry if your LO is past this window – starting now is great!
Research shows that diets rich in fruits and vegetables – especially green leafy veggies – can help prevent chronic disease & obesity later in life.
The problem is that infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in the US don’t eat enough veggies.
Here are the facts:
- Only 10% of our kiddos consume the recommended amounts of veggies per day.
- 30% of toddlers and preschoolers eat LESS THAN 1 serving of veggies per day. And, not surprisingly, white potatoes (french fries, potato chips, puffs, tater tots, etc) were the most commonly consumed “vegetable” among toddlers.
- Unfortunately, our youngest eaters (7-13 months) eat <50% of deep yellow/orange veggies and <11% consumed dark green vegetables. We also know that habits formed early in life – track into childhood.
This is why it’s important to offer a variety of wholesome foods, veggie-forward meals, and adventurous flavors – early and often. This can be stressful and overwhelming.
We hear you. And we’re here for you.
Our Top 10 Tips to Raise an Adventurous Eater:
1. Patience is Key.
It can take 10+ different exposures/feedings for your LO to accept a new vegetable, food, or flavor. This can be frustrating – but know that it’s just part of the process.
2. Try Again (and again!).
Repeated exposure to veggies in a positive environment can encourage them to continue enjoying a variety of foods.
3. Avoid “Masking” Veggies.
We want your babe to learn to LOVE their veggies. To love them, they have to taste them. Many baby foods boast “veggie and fruit” combos, when in fact, it's mostly fruit – often containing more sugar as a bowl of Lucky Charms!
We recommend offering veggie-forward, balanced meals so your baby can truly taste the earthy, bitter, and savory flavors of delicious veggies.
Our Nutrition Promise:
All of our Square Baby meals contain veggies as the primary ingredient with most meals containing 50-100% veggies.
4. Variety is Everything!
Offer the rainbow for optimal nutrition and exposure to various foods and flavors.
5. Show Your Babe the World!
Offer foods, flavors, herbs, and spices from around the world to help your baby learn to love a wide range of cuisines. Dahls, curries, and tropical flavors are just a few ways we’ll have your baby ordering the next family Thai takeout order. ;)
6. Enjoy Family Meals.
Life is busy and we’re on-the-go so often. Try to sit and savor time around the family table at least once a day. Let your baby see, smell, practice feeding, and even play with their food! These rituals can help develop a healthy relationship with food.
7. Practice Over Perfection.
Learning to eat solids and self-feed is a journey. There may be days when more food ends up on the ground or on your face – and that’s ok!
8. Make it Fun!
Keep the mood light – don’t let food become a fight.
9. Mix it Up.
Try offering foods at different temperatures or prepared in different ways – steamed, roasted, pureed, whole, mashed, or even a frozen baby-safe “popsicle”.
10. Give Yourself Grace.
Like every developmental milestone – babies learn at different times. And in different ways. So remove any pressure or expectations. And stick with it! They will learn to be an adventurous eater – and you’ll be so glad you persisted.
Don't hesitate to reach out with any questions - we're happy to help!
~Katie & Kendall, cofounders and chief mamas