Healthy Starts: Making Your Own Baby and Toddler Food
Photo by Lottie Hedley
By introducing your child to a nourishing, whole-food diet at a very young age, you can teach them to prefer the taste of real foods over processed ones. Our littlest little bird, Pepper, loves snacking on sauerkraut and avocado, creating new vegetable and fruit juice combinations with Megan each morning, and considers our bright yellow turmeric milk a delicious treat! Starting young lays the foundation for healthy eating habits later in life, and may just mean you’ll have less protests from stubborn toddlers when it comes to eating their vegetables... Here are some tips for introducing your child to a wholefoods diet, and getting them to not only eat, but love their fruit and veges too!
Developing eating habits and food preferences is a learned process – just like starting to walk or potty training. In order to instill healthy eating habits in children, it is essential to expose infants older than six months to the taste and texture of a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Studies show that when introduced to these foods early, children are more likely to adopt and practice healthy eating habits in adulthood.
First bites are a big milestone in a baby’s life. The World Health Organisation and the National Health and Medical Research Council recommend starting to incrementally include solid foods around six months. No need to rush, your baby will let you know when they are ready! There digestive system is still so new so keep it simple and don’t overdo it.
When you start to incorporate solid foods it is important to offer a few iron-rich foods such as well cooked & pureed beans, lentils and chickpeas (sprouting them first will also help make them easier to digest).
You can also begin experimenting with different vegetable and fruit purees. To make your own purees, invest in a quality high-performance blender such as a Vitamix, as it easily and quickly blends whole food ingredients to a silky smooth texture, offering a convenient and tasty way to create nutritious meals.
Fruits or Vegetables?
When it comes to deciding between introducing a fruit or vegetable first, there are no hard and fast rules, and it makes no difference to your baby in terms of ease of digestion.
Some choose to introduce fruits first due to the sweet taste that mirrors breast milk, while others like to start with vegetables, so the child will be more likely to accept the taste.
Whichever you choose, it is important to remember to only introduce one new food every three to four days, as this will help you determine whether your child has a reaction to a certain food.
Fun with Fruits and Veggies
As your little one grows, continuing good eating habits can be tricky. The toddler years are a time of transition and independence, when they learn to eat table food and experiment with a variety of tastes and textures. Kids are also notoriously fussy during this time and may reject some of the most nutritious foods.
Serving your children homemade fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies is one of the simplest and most delicious ways to fit several servings of healthy produce into their diet.
Children experience rapid growth and development during their first few years, and so it is essential that they be fed a healthy and nutritious diet in order to maximise growth and development. Also, when it comes to eating, be sure to lead by example – no child is going to eat their greens if you don’t!
Keep it Organic (when possible)
Using organic produce will help keep your baby’s fragile system relatively free of harmful chemicals and pesticides. Pound for pound, a baby consumes more pesticides due to their small body size. In addition to this, studies have now shown that organic foods have higher nutritional levels than conventionally grown foods.
Making your own baby and toddler food is incredibly easy, not to mention a lot more economic and eco-friendly too. It allows you to know exactly what you’re feeding your little ones, while increasing the nutritional value and freshness of the food, and eliminating unnecessary additives and preservatives.
Some of our favourite and incredibly easy recipes to create in our Vitamix are:
Sweet greens – blend 1 banana, 1 leaf kale and a little almond milk until smooth.
Tropical – blend ½ banana, flesh of ½ mango and ¼ of an avocado with a little almond milk until smooth.
Pumpkin, pea & lentil – blend 1 cup steamed pumpkin or sweet potato, ¼ cup peas and ¼ cup sprouted and cooked lentils.