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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Veggin' Out with Baby Food

Trying new foods with baby is often fun, sometimes challenging. How do you get the right balance of fruits and vegetables in those early stages of life, when the palate seems to be so downright choosy? A little creativity can often do the trick.

We all know the little trick where you put a bit of the favorite food on the end of the spoon with the disliked item hidden behind it. But you can't dip everything in applesauce. When baby is old enough to try a few items mixed together, you can often cover up the unlikeable by blending in something more palatable.

For instance, my son wasn't too hip on broccoli. I want him to have it in his diet because it's so healthy. A cruciferous vegetable, dark green with calcium, loaded with vitamins. But he wasn't buying it. He does, however, like carrots. A lot. So I tried mixing 1/2 carrots to 1/2 broccoli, steamed and smashed. (He's 8 months old, so a little chunky is good. Younger than that and you need to puree with a little water for the right consistency.) He liked that combination so much that he was flapping his arms between every bite. It was like me with a 5-pound tray of chocolate brownies. Jackpot! Broccoli is now in the diet to stay.

Get creative with your baby's diet. Take a look at the colors of the fruits and vegetables, and make sure you vary them. Orange gives lots of beta carotene, such as yams and carrots. Dark green often means iron and calcium. Whites tend to contain starches, like rice or potatoes.

For a walk on the wild side, try a little tofu. Yes, tofu. It's pretty tasteless on its own, in some people's opinions, but throw in some mashed yams or a little banana, and babies find it rather yummy. The tofu is a wonderful way to add protein and some iron into baby's diet, and it's really easy to prepare. You don't even need to cook it. Just cut off a chunk and mash it with a fork until it's the right consistency. Whatever is left of the chunk, put it in a bowl, cover it with water, and put a lid on it. Make sure to change the water every day or two to keep it fresh.

There are lots of ways to shake up your baby's meals and expose him or her to all sorts of tastes and textures. Being creative with your mixes is the best way to ensure your child grows to love a wide variety of foods. Remember, what you teach them about eating now stays with them for the rest of their lives.

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