We received a message over the weekend from Kristen in Scotland, UK, who’s becoming a little frustrated with her son’s love of sweet potato – to the exclusion of ALL else.
Michael will only eat sweet potatoes – he closes his mouth and turns his head away from just about everything else. We’ve tried other vegetables and fruits but we’re not getting anywhere. My Health Visitor told me he needs to be eating more than just sweet potatoes – he’s 8 months. But she didn’t tell me how to make him do it! Help!
This isn’t the first time we’ve received a message from a parent in a situation like this. Whilst the favoured food may vary (although it always tend to be sweet – go figure!), the problem is the same.
Baby just want to eat the SAME thing for every meal.
So is it bad for baby to eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Well, if the food is a sweet one, you obviously want to break that addiction to sweeter tastes and foster an appetite for savoury flavours too.
You also want to offer your child a far broader spectrum of nutrients than can be offered by one specific food, however healthy that particular food might be.
Every single fruit, vegetable, type of meat etc offers its own unique benefits to baby, so including as many different nutritious foods in his diet as possible is important.
And if THAT wasn’t reason enough to offer a broad range of foods, there’s also the issue of texture to consider. Whilst you can produce some degree of textural difference with only one type of food (pureed sweet potato, for example, as opposed to roasted cubes), the difference doesn’t compare to the contrast between – say – sweet potato and a piece of meat!
So what can you do if your baby only wants to eat one type of food?
- Ensure that you buy the organic version of that particular food. This is because non-organically produced fruits and vegetables may contain pesticide residues – in some cases, even after washing and peeling (more info about this here). If your baby eats the same non-organic produce on a daily basis, then the constant exposure to the same pesticide residue could be harmful.
- Refuse to wholly give in to your baby’s demands! Of course, you don’t want to feel like you’re starving him – so give him just a little of that ‘favourite food’, alongside something else. Once the favourite food is eaten up, that’s it until the next meal. By the next meal, his appetite may be a little sharper (owing to the fact that the previous meal was rather small!). Start this in the morning and you may see results that evening!
- Speaking of mornings, breakfast times are the BEST times to introduce new flavours. Baby tends to be brighter, cheerier and hungrier than at any other time of the day… and subsequently more likely to try new foods.
- Eat WITH your baby – preferably with him on your lap – and put lots of healthy foods that baby usually refuses on YOUR plate. Eat them with lots of obvious/noisy enthusiasm – but don’t offer any to your baby! If he thinks he’s missing out – and he’s on your lap – he may just help himself from your plate, in order to try for himself this food you’re so excited about! It’s also useful to have his little friends come eat with you one day – when he sees THEM eating other foods, he might be more willing to try them too!
- Mix your baby’s favourite food with foods he doesn’t like. So in Michael’s case, his mummy could serve the sweet potato with a little broccoli puree stirred in. At each meal, however, she could reduce the amount of sweet potato added, until Michael is eating the broccoli puree by itself. Sneaky, but effective!
- Remember that the WAY you cook something affects its flavour. If your baby refuses pureed turnip, for example, then try roasting it instead of steaming it – it tastes completely different. Try getting a little more creative with the foods your baby has already refused.
- Try again with the foods that you think your baby doesn’t like. His taste buds are changing and developing all the time.
- Offer finger foods! We can’t stress this enough! MANY parents have witnessed amazing changes in their babies when they’ve allowed them to feed themselves. Some babies just like to be in control – be proud of your independent little diner!
- Be as patient as you can. Getting cross with your baby creates a vicious circle, where he’ll seem to oppose you even more. Remove foods your baby won’t eat without comment, praise him excessively when he DOES try a new food and accept the fact that there are some foods your baby just won’t like, no matter how creatively you prepare them! Gentle persistence will pay off in the end!
Please do add a comment and share YOUR advice if you’ve ever faced – and overcome – this problem!