Introducing solid foods: a key moment for vegetables
When children reach age 6 months, their diets shift from nursing only to gradual introduction of solid foods. At that age, children usually welcome the introduction of new foods; indeed, it has been shown that the more children taste different foods during this period of life, the more they will like new foods later! Food repetition and variety play an essential role from the very beginning of this stage in the development of taste, helping promote new foods, including vegetables. Until around 18 months, children are willing to eat nearly all foods offered to them. Between ages 2 and 3, they become more selective and “picky”, and by age 4, they become neophobic. In other words, the ability to enjoy eating a variety of vegetables is partially acquired by age 3. As for the number of repetitions, children between ages 2 and 3 need to be exposed to a food eight to ten times to be willing to eat it. This number is confirmed among younger children.
What vegetables should I give them, and in what form?
When your child turns 6 months, you can have them taste a wide variety of vegetables, including small pieces of cauliflower, green beans, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and carrots, and even eggplant, celery, fennel, and artichokes.
A few examples:
- To help children wait until mealtime, have them try a green bean, peas, or a cooked carrot coin, for a snack healthier than a cookie!
- Add chopped green beans to their soup or a few broccoli florets to their pasta.
- Discovering varied colors will encourage them to try the vegetables.
- Carrots are naturally mild and delicately sweet; children love them in all their forms. You can use carrots to help children learn to like other vegetables by mixing them with peas or pureeing them with potatoes.