BLOG: Introducing vegetables continued...

Pureed vegetables for baby
My daughter Eavan pulls some cute faces. She now smiles widely at carrots – it's great to see. However, sometimes the smile was not so wide. There were a few funny faces when I introduced her to some new foods, however I just kept introducing them. It’s the  perfect time to grow their love for vegetables and introduce them to as many new ones as possible. There are some great seasonal vegetables available now which make wonderful first foods; kumara, pumpkin and carrots go great together, or try them on their own.
Despite having introduced solids twice before (and in quick succession, sons aged 4 and  2 1/2) I still found myself staring at my third baby in bewilderment with the faces she would pull when I started to feed her solids.
Anyone watching would immediately think she was positively hating whatever it was I was in the process of feeding her. Sometimes the food would go in, other times it would be rejected, so I never knew if I could take her expressions as an actual reflection of what she thought of the food.

I investigated and came across some interesting research on parentingscience.com (Forestell and Mennella 2007).

Researchers gave babies who were beginning the transition from rice cereal to other baby foods some puréed green beans for the first time.
-95% of babies squinted
-82% wiggled their eye brows
-76% raised their upper lips
-42% wrinkled their noses

Reading this, I was pleased to see I wasn't alone, but I was even more pleased to learn that this behaviour was more about food acceptance than rejection. The more babies squinted, the slower they ate.

The researchers continued giving the babies the beans for 8 days. Each baby was offered it until it was either rejected 3 times or they finished it. By the end of the 8 days the babies were eating 3 times more than they were in the first session.

Interestingly the mums of the babies were asked to rate how much they thought their babies liked the beans - both before and after the 8 days, and their assessments didn't change.

Based on that, I now know that regardless of expression, if given the same food numerous times over a couple of weeks, Eavan's acceptance and enjoyment of foods will grow too.

Don't be put off if your baby pulls faces when you first introduce her/him to new foods, especially when feeding them fresh vegetables.

Puréed pumpkin, kumara, potato, spinach, and parsnip are great on their own or mixed together in a variety of combinations. I have found cauliflower makes an exceptional purée – serve it plain for baby or for the bigger members of the family, saute a crushed garlic clove and diced shallot in a teaspoon of vegetable oil, add half a cauliflower,cut into florets and a cup of milk. Season to taste, cover and simmer until cauliflower is soft. It was a favourite of mine when I was working as a chef.  A teaspoon of curry powder is another nice addition.