KIDS
July 13, 2015

The Veggie Chronicles

What's the best way to get babies to like veggies? You can try being sneaky, or you can try a different way that seems to work.

Vegetables are a sore point with many parents. Getting kids to eat vegetables, much less like them, is an ongoing source of frustration.

The key is to start early, according to a new study. If you want your kids to eat greens willingly, feed them lots of veggies within the first couple of weeks you introduce solid foods. The taste may just grow on them over time.

Babies are often interested in new tastes.

A group of mothers of four- to six-month old babies introduced their infants to five vegetables (one per day) of assorted colors and flavors as first foods. The process was repeated for 15 days. Another group of moms was instructed in the usual introduction of solid foods to their infants, with no special attention given to exposing the babies to vegetables.

One month later the University College London researchers asked the moms to feed their infants artichoke puree, a food rarely eaten by kids. Both moms and researchers rated how well the babies accepted the artichoke puree on a scale of one to nine, one meaning they hated it and nine meaning they loved it. Researchers measured the amount the babies ate as well.

Babies who were fed vegetables intensively ate twice as much of the artichoke puree as those who hadn’t been introduced to as many vegetables. They were also more likely to “like” it. Those babies unfamiliar with veggies “disliked” the artichoke puree.

Babies are often interested in new tastes. Taking the time to introduce babies to a variety of vegetables may help them grow accustomed to and accept vegetables, but it will take more research to see if the effects continue into the toddler years and childhood.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents begin feeding solid foods to infants around the age of six months and cautions it make take a baby 10 to 15 tries before they will accept a food. This study seems to suggest that 15 tries at vegetables in 15 days may improve the chances of acceptance.

Infancy is a very important time for forming future food habits. Introducing a wide variety of foods and textures, as age appropriate, is important for your baby to learn to enjoy healthy foods later in life.

The study is published in the British Journal of Nutrition .
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