This post is sponsored by Beech-Nut® Naturals™
I have four kids ages 7 and under. People always ask if I had a set of twins in there. Nope! It's just been a solid seven years of pregnant, nursing, weaning, crawling, toddling rambunctiousness. My kids – all boys – were born back-to-back-to-back-to-back all approximately two years apart. That means that we've been elbows deep in baby food for over six years. I know a LOT about feeding little kids. And I have the magic secret to getting a baby to love vegetables.
With my previous kids, I tried all sorts of meat and grain and veggie concoctions. Homemade, store bought, refrigerated, jarred, I tried it all! There was never a particular brand that any of my kids seemed truly wild about, honestly, until I came upon this little honey-shaped jar with a green lid from Beech-Nut.
It's called the Beech-Nut Naturals line, which is made with 100% natural fruits and vegetables and never anything artificial. The jars give my little one the opportunity to fall in love with each individual flavor as nature intended.
Exactly as the label describes, the jars contain just apple and kale, just carrots, just green beans, just spinach, zucchini and peas – never anything artificial! Beech-Nut is a small company that wanted to make food just the way moms and dads would for their own kids, which means a lot to me as someone who is trying to keep things as as and straightforward as possible with my family.
For me, it was refreshing to get back to a simpler way of feeding. With four kids, my family has had a serious need to take things back to basics and streamline our lives. This option just seemed to make sense for us – especially when I fed some to my youngest dude and he gobbled it up! When it came time for him to start eating big boy food with the rest of his brothers, it was WAY easier to transition him away from baby food to the “real thing,” since we were feeding him the real thing from the start. He adores corn, because it's a familiar flavor that hasn't been masked for him.
Pears, kale, blueberries, peas, prunes, snap peas and green beans are all pretty much the same story. Just about any solid fruit or vegetable we hand to him has an initial phase of contemplation and investigation, followed by a nibble and then a look of total recognition when he realizes he's already totally familiar with this flavor!
Nate has been home a lot more with baby number four, and he was a big influence in how we fed this dude. I'm a fun mom most of the time, but there's something about dad's vibe that takes things to a whole new level. He infuses this excitement and YOLO attitude into food that takes things from, “Let's try some pumpkin!” to “HECK YES, WE'RE EATING JACK-O-LANTERN FOR DINNER!!!”
I also found that it's best to follow baby's cues as far as eating and timelines. There have been phases when he wanted to use the spoon by himself, a lot sooner than he was developmentally able to. We rolled with it, stuck a smock on him, and gave him the freedom to explore food on his own terms. We wanted food to be associated with positive, joyful feelings as opposed to fights and tantrums.
Even as a toddler who is now capable of eating chopped fruits and vegetables without assistance, there are days when our littlest guy grabs a jar of baby food off the counter and asks for, “Spoon, mama, spoon.” He enjoys the extra attention and snuggles involved in being fed, and I totally get it. If I could get away with it, I would've had people spoon-feed me well into my thirties! I figure we'll knock this off before he heads to preschool, when his love of real food in all its various shapes and forms is as well-established as possible.
When I'm cooking meals, I also give him the option of seeing the ingredients and choosing to munch on some raw, washed fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to food, following your baby's lead is the most natural thing to do. Turns out, it's also the most successful way to get babies to love vegetables. Who knew?
Do you have a baby who loves vegetables? Got any other tips to share for helping kids fall in love with real food?