Parents corner

Go back
Tips & Tricks

Baby and food: the calm before the storm

aurélie d'hulst — avr 19, 2019

Feeding a child is a great adventure! First, he will eat a bit of everything before going most probably through a phase of food neophobia. No need to worry: these are two very natural steps of his development.

Gourmet golden age and social indifference

From 4 to 6 months, a baby is experiencing a gourmet golden age phase. It is a moment when he is more incline to try new foods. This phase — which usually stops at the age of 12 months — is the one when human beings are the most receptive to new savours. During this half-year, your little one will familiarise himself faster with different types of food and will enjoy their taste more easily. Enjoy it, it is the best time to broaden his culinary horizon: prepare him healthy food complemented with spices and fresh herbs and take away everything that is too fat, too salty and too sweet. Some healthy food habits he will keep for the rest of his life! During this period of time, show some inventiveness and vary the ingredients as much as possible. But do it wisely: first, we avoid the sweet vegetables — such as carrots — which might make the acceptance of other bitter vegetables more complicated later on.

You should know that, until he reaches the age of 27 months, your toddler will eat whatever you want. This time window gives you a lot of freedom: it’s up to you to offer him a wide range of good products before he starts to make his own choices! Things are getting harder afterwards...

Bypass food neophobia

Food neophobia is a feeling of fear towards new foods. It affects 75 % of children between 2 and 10 (with a peak between 2 and 6), explains Gabrielle Caron, nutritionist, to the Québec daily newspaper Le Soleil. It is the time when you might see your little one wincing when he sees cod in his spoon, closing his mouth tightly, even spitting out his mouthful of broccoli in his plate… But if you took advantage of the gourmet golden age to make him try a lot of different foods, he will be more incline to overcome this rejection phase.

He says no, what do I do?

Did you miss it out? There are ways to face this rejection of new foods (without having to tie your kid to his chair, thankfully!).

  • The more familiar the food, the less suspicious it is. Do not hesitate to cook the same food several times. As Bee Wilson, a British culinary journalist, explains it in her book First Bite, we consider that, during the food neophobia phase, up to 15 exposures to an ingredient are needed before accepting it. So be patient!

  • Use the principle of the “flavour bridges”, by associating a new food to a food your kid already knows: if your child loves curry sauce, prepare him peppers with this sauce, it will help him in getting familiar with a new vegetable. Something good to know: Our veggie sauces, spreads AND spicemixtures are all excellent “flavour bridges” and can help you pass this food challange. Ketchup is probably the most wellknown flavourbridge, although most of the time it is not a good option (too much sugar, too much salt). Try our no nasty ketchup. 

  • Avoid big changes and always present food in the same shape. So that your kid can have benchmarks. If you are cooking sweet potato as a purée, keep on with it, because if he discovers this tuber in another shape, he will see it as a new product. Ofcourse this only counts if your kid is a real picky eater!

  • This whole process must be conducted in a friendly setting. By having a caring attitude and a bit of resolution, it will be easier to encourage your kid to taste new dishes. Acknowledge his efforts and encourage his motivation, but never force him: he will then be more enthusiastic about the idea of doing it again.

  • Don’t throw away the food he doesn’t want to eat: leave it there, in front of him… He will then be able to change his mind if he wants to. This happens quite often;-) especially when nobody looks...

  • If your little one sees you eating new foods, it will ease his neophobia and reassure him. Mummy & daddy are always the best examples. So, toughen up and eat (yes, you too!) your Brussels sprouts.  No pouting…