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My High Hopes to Raise a Picky Eater

Picky Eater Havah and friend

Do you really want a picky eater? That might depend on your definition. This is an article written by Danielle Henry, when her daughter Havah was just a few months old. Havah is now 7, and the oldest of a set of 3 “littles” who have all grown up following many of the simple concepts in this short excerpt.

A few times a week I will talk with other moms about nutrition for the family. Up until the past year I’ve really only be responsible for feeding myself. Our two older daughters are old enough to go to the kitchen and feed themselves. Sean and I encourage them to make good choices, but they are at a place where they will choose what they do and don’t eat when they are at school or at a friend’s house.

When our youngest daughter started to seem interested in food I realized that I had some big decisions to make. When is the right time to introduce solid food? What is the right first food? I looked all over the internet, I went to the bookstore and to the library in search of answers.

I found a lot of helpful information. I also found a lot of useless information!

Common Answers, no Real Help

The most common answer that I found was something like this, “Around 4-6 months of age your baby will need something in addition to breast milk. This is great time to introduce rice cereal. If you feed your baby rice cereal before putting him to bed, you can expect that he will begin to sleep through the night.”

This was helpful, but not exactly what I was looking for. The information that I really wanted was something like, “Here are the nutritional needs of your baby and why. Here are good foods that meet those needs.” I did find a few sites and books that provided that type of information.

Great Resources to make a Picky Eater

The best source I found was a book by Mary-Ann Shearer called Healthy Kids the Natural Way. I had read a few of Mary-Ann’s books before, but didn’t realize that she had a book about children’s health until my friend Merrily Bright turned me onto it. Mary-Ann discusses nutrition from pre-pregnancy all the way to adolescence. The chapters on when to introduce solid food and what to give my baby were great! She goes on to break down several fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds – providing the vitamin and mineral content of each. It was great information. It really helped me to understand that these foods have everything that the body needs for optimum health. Unfortunately, if you look for this book on the web you will have trouble finding it. If are interested in getting a copy email me.

Another good resource is Many of the articles are very practical. Besides having a super fun raw food family, they discuss great tips on providing proper nutrition to your children and practical advice on how to survive travel, school lunches etc. while keeping health in mind.

Recently, my friend Paul Nison (raw food author, chef and educator) has been posting information on nutrition for babies and children as he and his wonderful wife Andrea just had a baby girl. Andrea wrote a great post about her plans for their daughter’s diet in the coming years. You can check out some posts she did on a blog at Guaranteed good info and great videos.

So here’s what happened with Havah: At around seven months old I gave her a taste of ripe banana mixed with breast milk. Over the next several months I introduced several other raw fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of her favorites are mangos, blended apples and pears, avocados, carrot juice, bananas (when she wants something to eat she asks for a nana), nectarines, papaya, young coconut meat, some of our raw shakes of course BarleyLife. A few times a week we give her food that is lightly steamed like yellow squash, peas and green beans.  Basically, she loves any food we give her!

I found some interesting info the on rice cereal suggestion. It turns out that babies don’t produce ptyalin, the enzyme that is produced in the mouth to help convert starches into sugars. Babies don’t produce this enzyme until they have a mouth full of teeth and are good at chewing. This usually happens around 18 – 24 months. Introduction of complex starches (rice cereal, potatoes, bread etc.) can sometimes result in constipation, mucus production and food intolerances.

My hope for Havah and all of our children is to raise picky eaters! I hope that if she grows up being stuffed with wonderful foods that help her body thrive that she will prefer them all of her life. I hope that our children will try anything, but have a preference for raw, fresh, ripe fruits and vegetables.

Danielle Henry