How much vegetable do infants need? Find out in this week’s “Ask Amanda,” column. Ask Amanda is our weekly virtual Q and A forum brought to you by Feed to Succeed’s expert Northshore dietitian Amanda Gordon.
Q: My 10-month-old likes to eat. We offer him table foods 3-4 times per day, and he still breastfeeds as well. He won’t eat vegetables though. I don’t know if it’s the color, the taste or texture, but he usually refuses. Any ideas?
A: Consider small victories with vegetables as big successes.
I recommend offering vegetables to your 10-month-old son at least 1-2 times per day. Manage your expectations and don’t expect “greatness.” If he eats 2-4 tablespoons (mashed, soft or in bite-size pieces) once or twice a day, consider that a big success!
Early exposure is key. In fact, many pediatricians and dietitians now recommend starting vegetables before fruits as first foods for babies. This is a good approach. However, the evidence is not conclusive that giving vegetables first will necessarily decrease a child’s preference for fruit and sweeter tasting foods. Babies are born with a tendency toward sweeter tasting foods. This is all the more reason that early and frequent exposure to vegetables becomes important.
I recommend that you continue to offer vegetables with 1-2 meals per day, but do not force, coerce or bribe. I am also not a fan of “hiding” vegetables. Toddlers and children are smart! When we hide vegetables that they don’t want to eat in their foods, we run the risk of losing their trust in what we are offering them, and they might start refusing foods they would normally eat.