Lesson in Persistence: Teaching Baby to Eat Her Veggies

When it came to learning how to eat veggies, my first child was the model kid.  She was so easy.  I followed the recommendations from the experts and introduced veggies first before bringing out the bananas and apples.  That kid ate anything I put in front of her.  She was eating strained spinach by 5 months and that was just the beginning.  Now at 6 years old, she will eat a salad for lunch or salmon with green beans for dinner.  My proudest moment was when she was served a traditional Afghani meal by some friends of ours.  My daughter, 4 years old at the time, tried everything, and gobbled up half of her adult size plate.

And then came my youngest daughter.  She is 11 months old and it has been a struggle to get this child to eat.  You wouldn't think it since my little chunky monkey has consistently been above 95th percentile in weight!  Yet, other than mommy's milk, for the first 8 months, I couldn't get her to want much of anything else.  Well, of course, if I gave her a smashed bananana she would eat that all day.

I started her out on solids just like I did her big sister by introducing vegetables first.  We started at 5 months, but she was not interested.  We tried again at 6 months and she took a little bit, but only a miniscule amount.  She seemed to be okay with the carrots and peas for awhile.  And then I introduced the fruits and forget it, she wouldn't touch anything else.  Here, I am, the professed health nut, and my kid does not want to eat anything other than the sweet stuff!!

But, I am persistent (or maybe it is just a matter of pride).  This kid was going to eat vegetables one way or another!!  I just kept repeating to myself, "If Japanese kids can learn to eat natto (fermented beans), my kid can learn to eat vegetables."  What did I do? I stopped giving her the bananas and apples, and tried again only offering vegetables.  She stopped eating.  Since, Lia is breastfed and since she certainly was not losing weight, I didn't worry about it.  Every day I would offer her something, and everyday it was wasted food down the drain.  I would put the spoon to her mouth and she would just turn her head and keep her mouth closed.  I made my own baby food. I tried giving her Earth's Best Organic.  Nothing.  I tried different flavors and combinations. Nothing.

I changed my strategy.  She seemed to like the little pieces of Ezekiel Bread (sprouted grain bread) that I would give her, so I started just putting smaller versions of our food on her tray and see what she would do with it.  She started eating!!  It turns out that her biggest problem was that she did not want to be fed.  She wanted to feed herself.  And she didn't like smashed up food.  She wanted real food with real texture.  Who knew?

Since I don't really cook with salt or sugar, or anything with preservatives, I pretty much just cut up whatever we are having for dinner into small pieces and let her go to town. Now that she can feed herself, she will allow me to feed her with a spoon--sometimes.  The other day we were having a salad, so I just cut up the tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers in small pieces and she ate all of them without a problem.

It was a very frustrating few months and I was very tempted to just throw in the towel and give her only fruits.  However, I knew it would be easier for me if I fought the fight now, than to try to fight it later on.  With a little bit of persistence, I figured out that it was not that she did not like vegetables, it was that she is Miss Independent.

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