Want to know what you’ll find in First Bites? Here’s the Table of Contents and Introduction:
SECTION 1: Newborns
SECTION 2: Infants
SECTION 3: Toddlers
Afterword: Sweating the small – and big – stuff
About the author
Before my husband and I became parents of Big Brother and Little Sister, I read about how a chef fed his own toddlers. Not sparing them from any kind of food, he cooked normal, adult-friendly meals, his children happily ate what was on their plates, and they were far from picky eaters.
I knew that if and when I became a mother, I needed to follow the same example.
When I was pregnant with Big Brother, I learned how babies develop a taste for what their mothers eat by tasting the flavors through the amniotic fluid, and later through breast milk. (Yes, moms – what you eat does make a difference.1) Because I wanted my children to become healthy eaters, I tried to eat a lot of vegetables and a variety of foods during both pregnancies to expose my children to as many different flavors as possible.
I continued to eat a lot of vegetables while breastfeeding (out of trial and error, I had to limit broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage for a while since they gave both of my children terrible gas pains). Once Big Brother and Little Sister were old enough to try solids, we started them on rice cereal, then oatmeal … and then vegetables. Any vegetable I could cook and puree, they tried.
And do you know what? Today they love vegetables. It doesn’t matter what’s on his plate, Big Brother will choose to scarf down broccoli or green beans first, then ask for seconds, thirds, and fourths. Once he spies a tray of fresh vegetables, he happily eats helping after helping of pepper slices, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and snap peas. The boy loves his veggies. Little Sister has a much bigger sweet tooth and prefers fruit, but she definitely doesn’t complain about vegetables.
Many parents and grandparents we know have been very surprised by watching my children eat because they clearly prefer vegetables and rarely make a fuss about what’s on their plate. They just eat what’s in front of them. Of course, they’re not always great eaters; we’ve dealt with our share of food battles.
I know not all children are willing to eat what’s on their plates, though. Some run from the sight of healthy food. But giving your child an early, healthy start is a lot easier than you probably think. Remember – it starts before your child is even born.
The focus of First Bites
Setting all picky eating issues aside, there are so many significant – and preventable – dangers that come from not choosing healthy foods. And the dangers start from birth.
During my first pregnancy, I didn’t know the health advantages or disadvantages of breast milk, formula, or baby food. I only knew I wanted the cheapest option that was fairly simple. Once I started using my journalistic experience and researched the choices, I discovered obvious health benefits found in certain foods that are given to children in the first year of life.
If you’re like me and never contemplated the nutritional and health aspects of a baby’s food, you’ll be surprised by a lot of the information in this book. First Bites is the book I wished I had when I became a new parent. (In my first year of motherhood, I would’ve loved to access the research and simple solutions all in one place.) It’s divided into three sections: for parents of newborns, infants, and toddlers. Read what stage applies to your family. Of course, the earlier the healthy start the better, but it’s never too late to make a difference.
Parents, give yourselves grace. You won’t feed your child the best food all the time. However, don’t give yourselves too much freedom to feed your child the equivalent of garbage. Remember that God has entrusted you with your little person. Fill your babe with plenty of nourishing foods. In our house, we call it “growing food” because the healthy choices really do help our children thrive. (Big Brother and Little Sister love this, because they long to be a big boy and a big girl.)
I truly believe any child can be raised to become a healthy eater. Start early, make consistent, nutritious choices, and you, too, can help nourish your baby while helping to instill healthy eating habits.