New Study Reveals Kids Aren’t Eating Enough Veggies: How to Open Their Flavor Window!
We all know and hear about what we SHOULD feed our young children, but parents everywhere know the struggle. The true story about what kids are really eating may surprise you. One landmark study soon to be published in the Journal of Nutrition now finds that more than one quarter of toddlers and preschoolers do not eat a single vegetable serving on a given day and of those who do, French fries are the most common. But veggies are so important!
So what’s a parent to do? First of all, don’t give up! Ensuring that young kids get the healthy foods they need is by no means a simple task, but it’s worth it. Pediatrician Ryan Carvalho and Dr. Regan Bailey joined EverydayFamily’s Shiloh Johnson to tell us more about infant and toddler nutrition in this country, and solutions to help your child eat healthy and set the foundation for a healthy future. See the full interview here:
Childhood obesity has tripled over the last 30 years in the US. Carvalho explained that The Feeding Infants and Toddler study is the largest study focused on kids in the US. This study determines how and what children are eating. This is important to know because what you feed your children sets the foundation for their eating habits later in life.
Dr. Bailey told us that key findings of the study show us what children are eating, but more importantly what they are not eating. A big finding is that children in the US are not getting enough veggies. Now, Dr. Bailey agreed that you can always give your child a dietary supplement if recommended by a doctor, however, she said that they always encourage real foods first because that establishes good, healthy dietary patterns for the long run.
Findings from the study include:
- One in five infants’ diets are falling short on iron, which is instrumental for brain development and learning.
- Three out of four toddlers and preschoolers consume too much sodium, putting them at risk for developing high blood pressure and heart disease later in life.
- Fewer than 25% of kids 0 to 48 months old get the recommended amount of vitamin D in their diet, which is needed for bone growth and development.
Carvalho added that the study also showed positive results. Some great news from the study is that more mothers are starting to breastfeed or breastfeed for longer. And preschoolers and toddlers, ages 2-3 years, are consuming a good amount of fruit and whole grains, both great sources of fiber.
Research suggests that how and what you feed a baby beginning from their first bites of solid food will impact their later eating habits and taste preferences. Exposure to a variety of foods and flavors early and often may encourage acceptance of new foods later on.
Now, it may take up to 8-10 tries for a new food to be accepted, so keep offering those veggies! Feed your babies a variety, like pureed or mashed peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, and green beans. For toddlers, try finger foods as snacks to spark some kid-friendly creativity including red/green pepper slices, cooked peas or green beans, cucumber slices, and small, soft-cooked dices of sweet potatoes.
Dr. Bailey reminded us that, “Every adult has a responsibility to improve child nutrition.” She recommends that you make food fun! Have your child draw in hummus with carrots, or put “snow” on broccoli by dipping it in ranch. Keep things fun, don’t be scared to “play” at the table. Carvalho added that you need to promote variety in the veggies you’re feeding your child. Vegetables come in a rainbow of colors. Make sure you get every color in that rainbow for your child and eat them yourself too! Be a role model for this behavior.
For more information, go to Gerber.com to get resources, tips, tricks, and tools to help make a difference in your child’s nutrition. And remember, just keep trying! Tastebuds (and moods!) change, and while your child may not like it once, they might when they try it again!