Today I sat with my 4 year old son who was playing architect. He was building a truly enormous skyscraper out of all sorts of bricks and when I asked him how it had he built it so tall and strong his response was that "it has good, solid foundations". Just like his tower, you can compare a child’s body to a building under construction. A lot of different materials are needed to build it, maintain it and when needed repair it, but when you get down to it a little human being is also needs great fuel which is the foundation to their own little structures.
One of the most important fuels that we can provide our children is a wide variety of vegetables and fruits.
Here's a few little tips to help you with your rapidly growing little ones with their veggies.
1. Stress Less
Try not to get fixated on calories, vitamins, minerals. Our bodies are finely tuned machines that are designed to eat whole foods that nature provided, but there are many books out there that scare parents into thinking that feeding children a balanced diet is the most difficult thing in the world. Vitamins and minerals don't work in isolation of one another, so eating a wide selection of fruits and vegetables will contain the vitamins/ minerals/ protein/ fibre/ carbohydrate that their little bodies need.
2. Soups & Stews
During your baby’s first year, you will want to provide your child with most of the following cooked vegetables: spinach, peas, onions, carrots, asparagus, chard, squash, tomatoes, beets, celery, sweet potatoes and potatoes. These can be combined in soups and stews. If you are buying tinned soups keep an eye out for the low sodium varieties.
3. Green Parents
As soon as our son was 'into food' he ate pretty much every meal my husband and I ate, but initially it was pureed. Remember children will copy what they see, so if they see you eating your greens they will see it's something normal to do to.
4. Finger Foods
It's always great to let your children play with their food. It's not just the taste but also the feel and the look that appeal. When venturing on to finger food I recommend steaming vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and green beans, not only does it retain the nutrients but also the flavour.
From the age of one year old raw vegetables and raw vegetable juices that can be more easily digested, by a child with a good digestion, can be added. These include peeled tomatoes, lettuce, sliced string beans, shredded carrots, and chopped celery. Even if your foods are organic they still should be well washed. Go slowly at first and see how they are digested. You can make a simple dressing from freshly squeezed orange juice or sweetened lemon juice.
Foods with natural sweetness are corn, carrots, fruits, sweet potato and squashes. Again these can be pureed or stewed on their own or in combination.
7. Kids on Strike
Sometimes your little one can totally go off his food or a type of food for a few weeks at a time. If you have tried everything you can to get vegetables into their diet - different tastes, textures, types, raw, cooked and your child still refuses, fear not. Although vegetables are particularly valuable for various minerals and vitamins and great for roughage, for a short time you can always fall back on a variety of fruits will supply many of the minerals and vitamins, and the same amount of fibre. Chances are if you don't make an issue of the lack of veggies then your child will be back devouring their greens again in no time at all.