Parents (English)

Fruit and Vegetables: make your children like them

   3 good reasons to like fruit and vegetables:

They add colour, texture and varied flavours to meals.
They are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
They may protect against cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

 “Fruit and vegetables are essential for child's health and growth”

When your baby is sitting up properly and ready to taste new foods, vegetables are an excellent first food

What happens when babies first experience a new taste?

Probably, you will see some odd facial expressions when your baby first tries a new taste. This doesn’t necessarily mean he or she doesn’t like it. Sometimes, this reaction happens simply because they are surprised by an unfamiliar taste. Babies are born with a liking for sweet tastes and need to learn to like sour or bitter ones.

“Facial expressions of dislike probably mean that infant is discovering a new taste”

5 Tips for success with vegetables

     Be persistent
If your baby doesn’t seem to like a vegetable the first time you offer it, try again very soon. After trying the vegetable several times, he or she will most likely be eating it with pleasure. Try up 8-10 times over several weeks to be sure.
Offer vegetables one at a time, so that your baby can get used to individual tastes.

“Persistence is what will make your baby love fruit and vegetables”

      Offer a wide variety of fruit and vegetables
It’s really important that your baby is given different tastes to try because this leads to greater acceptance of new and different foods immediately and in later years. Try giving something different most days but don’t forget to repeat foods that have been refused.

“The weaning period is a 'window of opportunity' when an infant is open to accept a variety of foods with different tastes, textures and flavours”

      Be a Role Model
As parents you act as a food provider but you can also influence your children’s eating behavior by setting a good example by eating the food yourself. If a vegetable is unfamiliar to you, try it regularly yourself and you’ll grow to like it too. Try also to eat with them as often as you can and tell them how much you like eating vegetables. Don’t forget that actions speak louder than words and your children are watching you!

“Be a good example! You are your child's first and most important role model”

    Try to relax
You are responsible for the foods you offer to your children and acting as a role model is the best way to encourage acceptance of vegetables. It is better not to use pressure or bribery to try to make your child eat. Keep offering a wide variety of foods, and most likelly he’ll eat a wider variety. Children’s appetite can vary from day to day so be responsive to your child’s signs of hunger and fullness. Give your child some say in how much food to eat. This will help him develop a healthy relationship with food.

“Being too strict can have negative consequences on children’s eating behavior”

  Get them involved
As children grow up around 2-3 years old, they may refuse and become picky about certain foods. As soon as possible, try to involve them in preparing meals and you will see that they’ll be more interested in eating what they've created. Test the following ideas to get them involved:
- Cut fruit and vegetables into funny shapes.
- Dress up meals with faces and shapes made from fruit and vegetables.
- When shopping, let them choose a new fruit or vegetable to try.
- Let them tear leafy vegetables for salads and sandwiches.
- Help them plant a vegetable and make them responsible for it. Almost anything you can grow in a vegetable garden can be grown in a pot.

“Activities that encourage contact with foods may lead to a better acceptance”

The HabEat project aims to understand how food habits are formed and changed in infants and young children. Further information about the results of the HabEat project will be available by December 2013.
Read more about the project: HabEat Newsletters