(BPT) – Want to give your family a jump-start on good nutrition? By introducing your children to a nourishing, whole-food diet at a very young age, you can teach them to prefer the taste of real foods over more processed ones. This lays the foundation for healthy eating habits later in life.
Help your little ones crawl into a wholesome lifestyle by making your own baby and toddler food. Here are some tips to follow to introduce a meal plan that ensures your child consumes high-quality, healthful ingredients.
Developing eating habits and food preferences is a learned process – just like starting to walk or potty train. In order to instill healthy eating habits in children, it is essential to expose infants older than 6 months to the taste and texture of a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. When introduced to these foods early, children are more likely to adopt and practice beneficial eating habits in adulthood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
First bites are a big milestone in a baby’s life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solid foods around 6 months of age. After introducing your child to single-grain, iron-fortified cereal, you can experiment with different vegetable and fruit purees and tailor each meal specifically to your child’s preference and needs. To make your own purees, invest in a quality blender such as the Vitamix 5200, that easily blends whole food ingredients to a silky smooth texture, offering a convenient and tasty way to create hearty and nutritious meals.
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 ingredient.
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 diets.
Children experience rapid growth and development during the first few years. It is essential that they be fed a healthy and nutritious diet in order to maximize this time. Also, when it comes to eating, be sure to lead by example and also consume some of the same ingredients.
Making your own baby and toddler food allows you to know exactly what you’re feeding your little ones. It increases the nutritional value and freshness of foods and eliminates additives with a lower overall cost. Create a versatile and simple meal plan for your child with the ingredients below as well as a tasty smoothie recipe.
Baby Food Puree
Bananas, peeled; peaches, peeled; avocado meat; papaya, peeled and seeded; mango; apples, seeded; pears, seeded; sweet potatoes, peeled; squash, peeled and seeded; carrots; green beans; spinach; corn.
Choose one or more items from the list of sample ingredients and prepare accordingly. Place into the Vitamix 5200 container along with 1/4 cup water, formula or breast milk and secure lid.
Select Variable 1.
Turn machine on and slowly increase to Variable 4. Increase speed as needed, depending on ingredients used, to achieve the desired consistency. If necessary, use the tamper to press any ingredients into the blade while processing.
Blend for 20-30 seconds. If mixture is too thick, remove the lid plug and add additional water, formula or breast milk, 1/4 cup at a time through the lid plug opening. Continue blending to achieve desired consistency.
Serve immediately or freeze excess baby food in ice cube trays.
Banana Blueberry Orange Smoothie
3/4 cup water
1 medium orange, peeled, halved
1 small banana, peeled, frozen
1/2 cup frozen unsweetened blueberries
Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
Select Variable 1.
Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
Blend for 1 minute or until desired consistency is reached.