Most babies love rice cereal right away because it has a very mild taste that is similar to formula and breast milk. When you are ready to move to pureed fruits and vegetables, anticipate that your baby will need some time to get used to the tastes. Try feeding him each fruit or vegetable at least three or four times before assuming that he doesn’t like it.
Toddlers are notoriously picky. If your toddler turns down a new food, it might be because it is too mature for her taste or simply because she is in the mood to say no. When it is time to introduce a new food to your toddler, give her choices to promote her independence. Offer a choice of carrot sticks or peppers, vegetable soup or applesauce, chicken or fish. Toddlers also love to feel grown up by imitating the adults or older siblings in their lives, so eating something healthy yourself is a wonderful way to get her to eat healthy.
Young children tend to eat only when they are hungry. Don’t be worried if your child eats an adult-sized meal one night and barely touches his plate the next. Look at his nutrition over the week as a whole rather than each day. Young children might also be picky if they are not used to certain foods since they thrive on the familiar. Package new foods in appealing ways, such as putting chicken on kebob skewers, wrapping vegetables in a large lettuce leaf or blending fruits into a milkshake.
Older children are more aware of social pressure than young children and might choose to eat or not eat certain foods based on what their friends are doing. At this stage, her sense of taste is also more developed and it will be harder to introduce a food that she has never eaten before. Sneak vegetables into your menu by adding sweet potatoes to a blended soup, mushrooms to a lasagne or serving meatballs over spaghetti squash instead of regular spaghetti. Ask your child to plan the menu with you: the sense of pride she feels for the meals will give her added incentive to eat what you serve.