One of the main goals of baby-led weaning is for babies to eat what the family eats, with age-appropriate modifications. That said, a question many parents grapple with is if it makes sense to introduce a baby to foods that they as the parent(s) might not like or choose not to eat, thus are foods that might not be in the regular family rotation. It’s clear that introducing a baby to a wide variety of tastes and textures is hugely beneficial in preventing picky eating and raising a flexible, adventurous eater.
As a chef I’ve noticed trends among foods that people don’t like – they’re often foods that in previous generations were rarely thought of as food for babies. Foods like sauerkraut, liver, artichoke, beets and mushrooms. Many of us in the US don’t like these foods precisely because we WEREN’T exposed to them as children, which is a shame since many of them are really nutrient-dense. It’s totally reasonable to hope that our children will be as adventurous, or perhaps more adventurous eaters than we are. I say this as an adult who was a very, very picky eater as a child. So, try to introduce your baby to ALL whole foods, even ones you struggle with yourself.
How to Handle It
A great way to handle this on a practical front is that any meal where your little one is eating the same meal or part of a meal that you are, eat the same foods as them. You’re modeling the family dinner concept, how to eat and setting a great example for your little one. That said? Realistically there are going to be many meals where you aren’t eating with them, or aren’t eating the same thing. Use these meals as an opportunity to introduce foods that might not be your cup of tea. Be totally neutral about these foods and all foods in general – your baby doesn’t need to know your personal preferences OR which foods you might reeeeeeally want them to eat. The Real Food Baby goes into depth on the psychology of eating since our relationship to food starts early.
Everyone has foods they don’t like and this is 100% normal. You can expect that your little one many end up not liking some of the foods you introduce, even if they initially try them as 6, 7, 8 month old babies. By introducing a wide variety of foods, you’re giving your baby the best shot developing a taste for a variety of foods. They may continue to like some foods that you don’t care for, in which case you can serve them in lunchboxes or snacks if they don’t appear in family meals. Or who knows – you might even find some new ways to love them yourself!
If you’re just getting started with solids or are transitioning to finger food, grab a seat at my free Baby-led Weaning 101 Workshop where I go over the most important things to focus on with your starting solids journey!