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Repetition, variety and perseverance: keys for your baby to smile while trying new food

gisèle gual — mar 19, 2019

At about 5 months old, your baby is finally ready to start the great food adventure! This step is crucial because, even if he already had a sneak peek of different tastes in his mother’s womb, and then with breast milk (if he was breastfed), your baby will have to deal with more powerful flavours and completely unknown textures! Without mentioning the different temperatures of meals: lukewarm milk, fresh fruits purée, warm veggies purée… It can be confusing.

No wonder that, contrary to the idyllic image his parents have while cooking his first meal with love, they will be well disappointed to see that their baby is pouting when he’s about to get his first spoon of purée. Or even that he rejects it completely, spitting and screaming!

Eating needs to be learned…

Just like a kid doesn’t learn to walk in one day, he needs time (and patience from his mum & dad) to learn how to eat!

One of the reasons why we advise to give only one type of food at once during diversification is to test his tolerance (possible allergic reactions for example). Another reason is that we want to give this new little eater the chance to differentiate the different tastes and textures of food he will discover for the first time. But, once the tolerance for one food or another is confirmed, there is no need to limit choices! Being “cautious” applies only for the very first weeks of solid food!

If your child seems to really dislike a certain food, be persistent:

a child needs 15 attempts in average to get used to it and to finally like or love it!

And don't forget, each kid is unique; some will devour their plate in a blink of an eye and others will need much more convincing.

The key for success lies in the determination of the parents who will not give up but will find some tricks to get what they want: offer the food regularly, cook it in different ways (more or less spicy, with herbs…), or serve it with another food that your child really likes.

Then, when the child grows up, you can cook with him so he can touch, smell, handle and get to know the foods, herbs and spices which are part of his meals. So, he can get used to them and will even want to experiment further!

The example set at the table by the parents and the child’s entourage is also crucial because if a child sees other people eating something, he will tend to want to try it too. Also, if he receives the “same thing” every single day, chances are he will refuse any new food afterwards (at about 18 months, when the age of food neophobia starts). Preparing your child's meal is therefore a good opportunity to try out new recipes… for the whole family!

Article by Gisèle Gual, pediatric dietitian.