I have 4 pretty non picky eaters and thought I'd share what we do without sounding too preachy. If I sound too preachy just ignore me. I'm kind of a know it all. ;)
When I started Sam on baby food almost 5 years ago, I of course immediately went for Gerber Baby food. Yes, I thought it was disgusting but it was just SO much easier than making stuff myself. Plus I was 19 and a full time college student. But I had come up with a few ideas before starting him on foods that made sense to me. A lot of people, including my pediatrician advised me to give him bananas. Apparently I was supposed to start him on foods with no color, well that didn't make sense to me. If I gave him fruit first he would want sweet food all the time. Instead I started him on squash, sweet potatoes and carrots. I used rice flakes instead of oatmeal or the "mixed" cereal and I didn't give him fruit for some time. Now, his favorite food is sugar snap peas, carrots and broccoli. He LOVES vegetables. So do all the kids. Joe and Molly are salad fanatics, they are always so excited to see salad on the table.
When I started Lucy on solids I knew we would be using premade foods much more often than I'd make from home. My mom made some lovely jars of apple sauce puree for her but of course I am not ready to give her fruit. I decided this year to try to buy only organic or locally grown foods. That includes the baby. When she uses formula, it's the "Earth's Best" and the premade baby food I found (and holy smokes - LOVE) is called "Sprout Organic baby food" by Tyler Florence. So far we have tried baked sweet potato, roasted butternut squash and sweet peas. This month we're moving her to the second stage foods, we currently have Sweet Baby carrots, Sweet Peas and Garden beans, baked sweet potato and white beans and summer squash, yukon Gold potatoes and Parmesan stocked in our cupboards. I truly feel like I'm giving my baby the best, their food is delicious! It's like real food in a pouch. I encourage you to taste your babies food.
Something else I do is buy organic broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas and cauliflower cut them up and mix them into a vegetable medley and keep them in our fridge. Whenever the kids want a snack I can pull out the whole container and put it on the table with a few dishes of dip. I mostly use organic ranch dressing or Creamy Italian dressing. I'm not saying they're never had processed fruit snacks or anything, they have and they love them. Sometimes I buy them for them - especially during the winter when veggies and fruit are so expensive. But I really prefer they eat veggies. It's so good for them in more than just the healthy area. It actually helps them be less picky about other foods that aren't vegetables. My kids love soup! They love stir fry and they love asian food - including sushi! Eating vegetables has taught them that most foods that are made with their favorite vegetables taste delicious and they're open to tasting new things.
Of course they aren't completely non picky. They're actually pretty funny about what they eat. Joe will not eat cheese. No mater what. melted, sliced, string... no way he's eating any of it. He completely dislikes lasagna and even his pizza he picks off the cheese.
Molly wont eat cheese either and isn't a fan of carrots, cookes or raw. Sam doesn't like meat much and isn't a big fan of salad. We try to impliment a "no thank you bite" of course, I don't call it that but that's what it is. They HAVE to try everything and they know that hey, maybe they'll find something they love. All that to say, it's not like my kids are perfect, it's something we work on all the time.
When Sam began drinking from sippy cups I read up on them and found that dentists highly discourage drinking juice from a sippy cup because parents tend to let their kids walk around with sippies. This started my hard fast rule of NO juice in sippy cups and NO juice anywhere besides the table. We have juice during breakfast and lunch and milk for dinner. Other than that they are more than welcome to help themselves to their sippy cups in the fridge which have fresh cold water in them. And you know what? It's never an argument and my children have no cavities. Maybe that's because of their genes, I'll never know.
I know this is a little preachy but it really really really is tried and true that your children will be less picky and more socially rounded when you eat together at the table. They watch you using your manners and you can encourage them to use their table manners and it really works out all around. Plus you'll get to listen to their funny conversations :)
So anyway I just felt compelled to blog on this subject when I was unpacking our groceries. Let this be a reminder and an encouragement to ME to keep the kids healthy and not introduce them to foods you don't want them to have.